Lesson from the Royal Thomian: “Nava Gilunath Ban Chune” | Sunday Observer

Lesson from the Royal Thomian: “Nava Gilunath Ban Chune”

It came as a relief that while over 230 people who went into quarantine after attending the big match played between Royal College and S. Thomas’ College earlier in March, no one has thus far shown any symptoms of the coronavirus.

In a statement which was circulated among the Thomians and Royalists, the Old Boys Associations of S. Thomas’ College and Royal College, informed all members that as the 14 day self quarantine period ended, there had thus far been no reports of anyone who had tested positive as a result of having attended the Big Match. All members however were advised to continue heeding the advice and guidance of the health authorities as the nation fought the pandemic.

Medical doctors who are also alumni  of  S. Thomas’ College were issuing medical advice to those under quarantine daily and all had been told to report to medical officers immediately if they developed any symptoms. Turf Club Tent members had also immediately shared the information of all ticket holders with the Health Ministry and Epidemiology Unit soon after the UL officer tested positive, while all ticket holders were warned that if the order from authorities were not followed, they would face criminal action.

The reason why we devote our column to this matter is that what happened brings back to mind the saying “Nava Gilunath Ban Chun”. Meaning that even if the ship sinks, Sri Lankans will continue their penchant to dance, drink and even die.

The  Royal-Thomian Thamasha is a time honored event but, one asks why the organizers were not sensitive enough to call off the event. These schools--especially Royal boast about leadership. Such leaders need to lead by example and they have failed us, while the wisdom of Ananda College, now thankfully has come to our rescue.

We can of course get wise with hindsight. Going forward, this incident sends a message that common sense and care should take priority above the pastime of our communities--especially in the big city.

Apropos my column headlined – The silver lining of Navod - which appeared in the ‘Sunday Observer’ ON LINE edition last week about the great batting deeds by two schoolboys AVISHKA THARINDU who scored a triple century and NAVOD PARANAVITHANA a quadruple century which column also included the amazing effort by LIONEL FERNANDO.

We had many calls expressing delight that  the magic effort by former Benedictine captain FERNANDO was not forgotten.  Fernando took 10 wickets and scored an unbeaten double century against his old school St.Anne’s College, Kurunegala in 1959 exactly 61 years ago. It is opportune to name the players of that Bens squad which was involved in that epoch making match.

Fernando in taking all 10 wickets also performed the hat trick and would have had another hat-trick but the delivery he bowled nicked the wicket and the bail failed to dislodge. How cruel. Had that bail fallen it may have been the first instance where a bowler had two hat-tricks in an innings. But that’s how the game goes.

So here goes that squad– Lionel Fernando (C), Elmo Rodrigopulle (VC), Allan Gunasekera, Sanath Jayawardena, Winston Dissanayake, Leslie Fernando, Cyril Ernest, Ranjit Perumal, Radley Crusz, Michael Joachim, Gordon Dissanayake, Ranjit de Silva, Nihal Fernandopulle and Victor Fernando.

Director Rev. Bro Alban, Coach Bertie Wijesinha, Prefect of Games A Gnanapragasam and Curator Rogus Perera. 

The writer managed to get through to Marina Mendis, daughter of Lionel and the famous Neil Wijeratne and obtain the scoreboard where Lionel took 10 wickets including the hat-trick. The rest of the scores are not visible.

It will be noticed that seven batsmen were out without scoring. Could probably be a record.

A who’s who of that team that made history would make interesting reading. Lionel Fernando (Capt). All rounder – dashing right hand batsman with the off drive being his chief scoring stroke. Bowled two way cutters. Brilliant field in the covers. Was employed at the Municipality, but could not emulate his father who was the Municipal Commissioner of Nuwara Eliya. He played for Ceylon against England and West Indies making a brilliant 64 against Gary Sobers team.

Not to be misunderstood , the story includes your columnist Elmo Rodrigopulle – all rounder – with teasing leg spin/googy bowler, right hand reliable batsman who  took a at trick against St. Peter’s in 1961.

Then there was Allan Gunasekera – Wicket keeper in the mould of Australian Wally Grout – hard hitting right hand opening batsmen with a dashing 100 against Nalanda. Shipping Business.

Sanath Jayewardena – Right hand elegant batsman, wonderful at slip. Worked at Carsons – now sadly bed ridden with a mystery illness.

Winston Dissanayake left hand reliable bat and good close-in fielder. – Owner of a Florist Shop.

Michael Joachim – right arm paceman with a lovely action who bowled two way swing. Top Engineer who was much in demand during President Premadasa’s regime. Was chairman State Engineering Corporation. (deceased).

Cyril Ernest – all rounder – exciting quick scoring right hand opener, brilliant fielder close-in and off spinner in the mould of England’s Jim Laker. Played for Ceylon against Colin Cowdrey’s Englishmen and USA-based leading Cardiologist much in demand in Los Angeles.

And then  Ranjit Perumal – left arm tantalizing leg spinner. Safe fielder and reliable right hand bat. Much sought after Physician.

Radley de Crusz – square armed right arm paceman. Top Excise Inspector.

Ranjit de Silva – Stylish wicket keeper. Fondly called Roy Sweatman the England WK at that time. Attorney at Law (deceased).

Leslie Fernando – stubborn right hand opening batsman. Sports Journalist ‘Daily News’, ‘Sunday Observer’ (deceased).

Gordon Dissanayake – Top notch off spinner. Good outfielder and safe bat (Playground Inspector).

Nihal Fernandopulle - Dangerous leg spin googly bowler (World Bank).

Bernard Victor Fernando- medium pace off cutter. Businessmen.

It must also be mentioned that during the reign of Rev. Bro. Alban Patrick as Director of SBC, who came from St. Anne’s, Kurunegala he recruited top sportsmen and brilliant students from SAC. They were Lionel Fernando, Neville Wickremasinghe, Nihal Amerasinghe, George Jayatilleke, Ernest Amerasinghe and Everad Ratnayake.

It was Bro. Alban who gave to the college the turf wickets and the imposing pavilion which were the best and no other school could boast of. The pavilion was rightly named the Rev. Bro. Alban Patrick pavilion in his memory.

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