Sri Lanka’s golden oldies regroup after 40 years | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka’s golden oldies regroup after 40 years

Seated from left: Muttiah Devaraj, HSM Peiris, Neil Perera (ex-SLCsecretary), HIK Fernando, Anuruddha Polonnowita, Stanley Jayasinghe, ACM Lafir, TB Kehelgamuwa, Michael Tissera, Mano Ponniah and Daya Sahabandu. Standing from left: Ajith de Silva, Sriyantha Rajapakse, Lalith Kaluperuma, Nihal Kodithuwakku, BWR Thomas, Jayantha Seneviratne, Ranjan Gunatillake, KM Nelson, Ranjith Fernando, Anura Tennakoon, David Heyn, Keerthi Gunaratne, Bandula Warnapura, Brian Obeysekera, Roy Dias and Mahesh Gunatillake
Seated from left: Muttiah Devaraj, HSM Peiris, Neil Perera (ex-SLCsecretary), HIK Fernando, Anuruddha Polonnowita, Stanley Jayasinghe, ACM Lafir, TB Kehelgamuwa, Michael Tissera, Mano Ponniah and Daya Sahabandu. Standing from left: Ajith de Silva, Sriyantha Rajapakse, Lalith Kaluperuma, Nihal Kodithuwakku, BWR Thomas, Jayantha Seneviratne, Ranjan Gunatillake, KM Nelson, Ranjith Fernando, Anura Tennakoon, David Heyn, Keerthi Gunaratne, Bandula Warnapura, Brian Obeysekera, Roy Dias and Mahesh Gunatillake

Former cricketers who paved the way for Sri Lanka’s rise to international recognition and who are now almost a forgotten segment, came together in a rare get-together at the Mercantile Cricket Association (MCA) lounge yesterday.

Some of them had met one another after almost 40 years and all were delighted to collectively come together while bringing back their past days of glory and fellowship.

Among 26 of them were three players of Sri Lanka’s maiden Test team, Bandula Warnapura (captain), Roy Dias and Mahesh Gunatilleke.

What was most striking about the trio and the rest of the former pre-Test players was that none of them became rich because of cricket.

The oldest living cricketer among them was Stanley Jayasinghe who revealed how he came about playing for Sri Lanka in the pre-Test era while having a stint at an English county.

He said that it was nice to see some of the faces after 30 or even 40 years.

He recalled how international cricket first came to Sri Lanka at the Oval (now P Sara Oval) at Wanathamulla in Colombo which was at the time notorious for its slums and gang violence in the vicinity.

The Oval hosted Sri Lanka’s first ever Test match which was against England in early 1982 and not much has changed by way of player and spectator comfort.

Former pre-Test captain Michael Tissera noted that after Sri Lanka won the World Cup in 1996, the game had become different and the country was able to produce players that could beat any side in the world today.

The get-together of the past cricketers was organized by former pre-Test era captain Anura Tennakoon and David Heyn who was well known for his brilliant fielding and a solid middle-order batsman.

Tennakoon recalled that they made many sacrifices for the country unlike today to uplift cricket to its present level.

The Mercantile Cricket Association (MCA) which in the past conducted tournaments that had some of the top Test players in action, came in as sponsor of the event. (TBR)

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