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Old 29-07-15, 05:32 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Scharenguivel the magnificent


A hundred and more years ago James Arthur Scharenguivel, ILLUSTRIOUS THOMIAN CAPTAIN OF 1898, from the prominent Scharenguivel family of Kalutara, played in and for Scotland soon after he left college. He became the FIRST CEYLONESE to play for a FOREIGN COUNTRY. So little is known about Scharenguivel, so little written about one who must have truly been one of our great cricketers and like so many others, an unsung hero.

How good was James Arthur Scharenguivel? This question can only be answered by looking at the limited writings, of some that saw him play, and others who have written about him at infrequent intervals. I do know that his batting record in Royal – Thomian matches was not significant but he did capture 19 wkts in the three matches he bowled including a match bag of 11 wkts. He was CAPTAIN OF THE FIRST EVER COMBINED COLLEGES XI IN 1898.

The erudite, articulate Leonard Arndt wrote in the 1951 S Thomas’ College Centenary number a most interesting paragraph in a lyrical, colourful article: GREAT THOMIAN CRICKETERS -

“I pass swiftly to our greatest name: Scharenguivel the Magnificent. Heard for 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, O. G. d’Alwis, the Edirisinghe brothers, 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”

The hugely built Scharenguivel the Magnificent and the debonair Beau Douglas – what a duo they must have been as schoolboys annihilating Royal in the only two “Big Matches” they played together. What a tragedy they were not seen playing together in maturity, combining to demolish our Colonial mentors! What a tragedy so few have been made aware of his contribution to our rich cricket history. As F. L. Goonewardena has stated in his memoirs “They were unquestionably the greatest pair ever turned out by a Ceylon School.”

S. P. Foenander, the doyen of our cricket historians, in his classic history – SIXTY YEARS OF CEYLON CRICKET 1863 – 1923 had this to say. ”Dr. J. A. Scharenguivel has claims to rank as one of the six greatest cricketers Ceylon has ever produced. In his school days at S. Thomas’ he enjoyed a remarkable reputation as an all round cricketer, and before he left school he had the honour of playing in representative cricket for the Colts against the Europeans. His achievements with bat and ball at S. Thomas’ were such as to stamp him as an exceptionally gifted cricketer. As a schoolboy he equalled the record for the highest score ever made, up to that time, against the Colts. After leaving school he studied medicine at Aberdeen University and while in Scotland he shone both as a brilliant left hand batsman and a deadly left-hand bowler. He was INVITED BY A. C. MACLAREN TO PLAY FOR LANCASHIRE, and was qualifying for that honour, when he was called away to the Far East by the serious illness of his father. In Singapore he has proved himself one of the greatest all round cricketers that the Straits have ever had.
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