One time cricketer Asoka Jayasena now chief rugby selector | Sunday Observer

One time cricketer Asoka Jayasena now chief rugby selector

10 January, 2021
Asoka Jayasena
Asoka Jayasena

Asoka Jayasena, a former cricketer at Ananda College who traded his bat for a rugby ball has landed the top job of head selector of the Sri Lanka team that he once represented with distinction.

All rugby followers know that Jayasena made a name for himself at Police and later Kandy SC on the rugby field, but many are unaware that the former second rower had his early education at Joseph Vaz College as a resident of Minuwangoda but crossed over to Ananda College to play cricket where he also excelled as an athlete.

He will have four other former illustrious players in Rohan Abeyakoon, Hemantha Yatawara, Kapila Knowlton and Leslie de Silva to support his endeavours.

Jayasena was the first player form Ananda College to wear the Sri Lanka jersey and captained the national team in 2000 to win the Asia Quadrangular Championship with Nimal Lewke as coach.

He represented Police from 1989 to 1996 and in-between in 1990 when Police withdrew from rugby due to the Second Eelam War, Jayasena played for Havelock SC and later turned out for Kandy Sports Club from 1996 to 2004.

Even while at school Jayasena was a crack player feared by rival school teams and played for the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens team in the World School Sevens at Roslyn Park in the United Kingdom.

His team mates were Lasitha Gunaratne, Bindu Dandeniya, Rohan Ranaraja, Sudesh Abeysinghe, Ruwan Ranasinghe, Thakshila Hettiarachchi, Mohamed Intikhab and Hilmy Shaeed coached by Alex Lazarus. Jayasena led the Kandy SC side in 1998 under the coaching of Priyantha Ekanayake as they took the second place in the Sevens, League and Knockouts.

Unassuming by nature and a disciplinarian, Jayasena is also a Level Two qualified International Rugby Board (IRB) coach, referee and citing commissioner.

But Jayasena was compelled to leave the country to take up employment overseas just six months after coaching and on his return helped Kandy SC in its academy.

He could be able to say that stalwarts like Daya Jayasundera, Ibrahim Hamid, Nimal Lewke, Anton Benedict, Ana Saranapala, George Simpkin, Tony Amit and Priyantha Ekanayake played a part in his success.