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Old 19-07-09, 04:32 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Great thomian cricketers


We are able now, listening in, to hear instantly on the wings of light the smack of bat on ball thousands of miles away.

One hundred years ago it was with the speed of thought that, while Edward Thring joined his boys at Upping ham School in games frowned upon not long before, his old teacher at Eton, Bishop Chapman, gave S. Thomas' cricket.

That is the conclusion to be drawn from the solitary item in the record:

"The Rules of Cricket" printed in the College Press, 1853.

Occasional memoirs mention bat and ball.

When the Magazine was launched in 1875, nearly foundered during 1876, and was righted by Cyril Jansz and sped safely on a voyage that has prospered up to the present day. There was at first no mention of cricket, until in 1878 Sub-Warden, the Rev. T. F. Faulkner (who also gave us the Magazine, as well as ready puns), fostered team-games, and suddenly there occur in the chronicle reports of successful encounters with other (leading) teams in Colombo (and later Negombo and Kalutara). Other names of cricket coaches might well be honoured here: Meyrick (1878), Stephens (1880), Schneider (1895), Julian Heyzer (1900), A. J. R. Scharenguivel (1902), Leonard Arndt (1914), and B.E. T. Jansz (1921).

To Frank Goonewardene special honour is due not for coaching but for an abiding loyalty which for over 30 years kept alive a personal effective interest in the progress of the yearly teams and in the captain's well-doing.

When the Debating Society celebrated in October 1879 its first anniversary, a speaker toasting the Cricket Club spiritedly protested defeat at cricket. "Cricket at one time seemed to be monopolized by the College alone, but he was obliged with shame to allude to the recent defeat by the Academy-an occurrence altogether unheard of before." And, further, "the Cricket Club is the admiration and envy of other cricket clubs in the island. The Academy is making efforts to deprive us of the reputation the College has hitherto borne for cricket."

Those were early day. Scores were small, an aggregate of a hundred runs was rare. The year 1885 is remarkable not only for Royal's "9 runs" but also for our large total of 170 for 6. The Royalists gave up the game in spite of the umpires. Principal and Warden, and it has been a talking point ever since! Names remembered from this time are: W. B. de Saram, F. V. Foenander, G. de Saram, E. Elapata and E. Gamier.

I pass swiftly to our greatest name: Scharenguivel the Magnificent. Heard Tor the first time in 1894, it has reverberated for half a century, having been heard also in Scotland and Malaya. 'Still going strong, Scharenguivel remains our wonder while with the modest charm of greatness he helps the school at Gurutalawa. Names dwarfed by his scale are: Julian Heyzer, C. Orr, 0. G. d' Alwis, the Edrisinghe brothers, and the Abeykoon brothers.

When Arthur Scharenguivel left, as Cricket Captain, he was the "best all-round player in Ceylon. He had made 77 against the Colts; he had bowled 8 wickets of the Colombo Club for 24 runs and again 7 for 25. In 1897 and 1898 from 18 innings he got a batting average of 52, and in bowling he took 77 wickets with an average of 4. Within a few months of arrival in Scotland he was in the British News.

Just as the habitat of the balls he hit with grace and ease was the 'tops of the trees beyond the verges, so he continued to top the averages (once it was 47) in Aberdeen while he studied medicine. He figured in international games, though not against England by a mischance.

Douglas de Saram stood for election as Captain with Scharenguivel. Rarely is a syzygy of two such brilliant stars seen. Beau Douglas, (as a later generation was bound to have styled him), more sturdily but less generously built, eclipsed his rival in some respects. At any rate he was nearer our time and always in our eye, for he remained in Ceylon. Like Scharenguivel he too was an all-Ceylon's player.' This is what Frank Goonewardene said in 1922: In 1897 at the age of 14 he caught the eye and from then on he was a figure to be reckoned with. At 18 he was Ceylon's best an-rounder, while still a schoolboy. He was a picture at the wickets and when he got going the spectators enjoyed the champagne of cricket. He was unsurpassed in the execution of his off drive. Not Bardsley, not Woolley, not Llewellyn, not Ransford, not Nourse, nor other famous left-handers whom I have watched equaled him in that one stroke which won him a great name in Bombay in 1905. A terrific mid-on drive at Kandy in 1921 hit the summit of Asgiriya hill, and a special landmark commemorates it to this day.

Prince Ranjitsinjie watched him at the abortive Trials for an Indian team to tour England and freely expressed his admiration. His was the most inspiring influence in Ceylon cricket. Supreme as a cricketer, physically well endowed, he possesses the greatest of all gifts, an irresistible bonhomie, which makes him a prince of good fellows besides a prince of sportsmen.

Press estimates of Douglas's time put high among Ceylon players Albert Scharenguivel, Francis Molamure (best fielder), George Arndt (run-getter), Stephen Senanayake, A. C. Amath (stylist) and Eliyatamby; late developers were J. C. 0. Ernst and Ernie Arndt. These were the best times for S.T.C. There followed a famous trio:

Laurence Arndt (first with the new hook-stroke) Clair Speldewinde and A. Sourjah.

Their teamwork with wily bowling, slip-catching and wicket-keeping is unsurpassed. The necessary fourth in reserve testifies, here to seeing, near and large, the epic of the second innings of the winning St. Joseph's College team in 1906. With 127 runs to win, they were hard put to make 11 runs for 6 wickets and with 5 minutes more of play they should have lost. In the same year we beat Royal in a single day, and two brothers divided the spoil in the last innings (8 for 38; and 2 for nought).

A remarkable quartette, all with a forte for a mighty cut-drive, were Sirimane, Edward Goonewardene, Arthur Molamure and (putting him 10 years before his time), Sam Elapata. The Wanduragala's (demons both) and the three Saravanamuttu's cover all that period.

While P. Saravanamuttu is rightly and duly honoured by his country, his youngest brother stole the garish day. He was the first to make 2,000 runs in a school-year, and he ended up at Cambridge with the glory of 132 at Lords against the M.C.C., and just falling short of a Blue, yet he had always the wry reminder of the warning he had had during his early training that a wily bowler could always either force his mighty firm-footed heave into a vertical hit and a catch, or cause the delayed drop of the ball to mock his frustrated stroke. I have told elsewhere the story of his greatest feat, when against a record aggregate score by St. Anthony's and a record of his own by Jack Anderson, he ran up a hundred in less than half-an-hour and appropriated the glory. That was in 1918 in the year before he had approached that deed against Royal, but always his feats irritated by variableness and shadow. Built, as they build men in Jaffna, he was best endowed of all our players, yet he never afforded the satisfied backward look that comes from fulfillment. But this must be said. He was immortalised in Punch's Charivaria! That was when, like another Thomian and the first Ceylonese, Shelton de Saram in 1905, he was played in the Freshmen's Match, and topped the rest in both batting and bowling.

Another galaxy comprising B. E. T. Jansz (first hundred against Royal), Reggie de Saram, F. J. T. Foenander, Alfred Crowther, Ric Jayetileke, Norman Siebel (record 150) spans the years until we come to living players still in actual performance whom it is for a future chronicler to honour.

Suffice it to add this tribute in a letter of Frank Goonewardene's from London to a player who well rounds off this story of men whom we delight to style great exponents of the great game: "The victory against the Australians seems to have been a brilliant affair. - I can find nothing to equal it in our records or any other School's. St. Peter's, Adelaide, has produced 'great international players........... Our fellows deserve very great credit.

Roy Hermon must be an outstanding cricketer. If you compare his record with that of Scharenguivel - Douglas and Sara, you will notice that for consistency he stands ahead of the famous trio."

Again, however, one regrets that Roy Hermon with all his fine personality has fallen away from the game, and the mind still loves to return to the old thrill that responds to the names of Scharenguivel the Magnificent and Beau Douglas!

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