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Old 06-03-16, 02:51 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default All-Island inter-school cricket champions 1976 (winners of the Lifebuoy Shield

Forty Years of Reminiscing
MAR
05
2016

All-Island inter-school cricket champions 1976 (winners of the Lifebuoy Shield) and a dedication to the men behind the scene 1975-1977
The Thomian team of 1976 led by right-handed opening bat and third year coloursman Sasi Ganeshan was unique in the sense that it consisted of six left-hand batsmen, four left-arm bowlers and four right-arm bowlers. The bowling armoury included a left-arm pacie Ishak Sahabdeen (later represented Sri Lanka at cricket and hockey) and a right- arm pacie Saliya Ahangama (who went onto represent Sri Lanka at cricket), two left arm leggies (Ajit Ganeshan and Lalith Ratnayake, a right-arm offie (Dayal de Silva), a right arm leggie (Suraj Dandeniya), right-arm medium pacer (Dayalan Subramaniam) and a left-arm dual purpose bowler Michael Jayasekera (who later represented Sri Lanka at rugby).
To add to it all the wicket-keeper of the side (the late Guy de Alwis) also went onto represent the Sri Lanka cricket team. Four members of a schools cricket team going on to represent the National side in three different disciplines of sport must surely be a record! The strength of the side was such that the selectors had no alternative but to leave out a coloursman from the previous year in naming the final X1. The side consisted of Sasi Ganeshan (Sas), Ajit Ganeshan (Aji), Lalith Ratnayake (Raty), Dayal de Silva (Daiya), Dayalan Supramaniam (Supps), Saliya Ahangama (Sali), Lakmaal de Zoysa (Laki), Michael Jayasekera (Miky), Ishak Sahabdeen (Ishy), Guy de Alwis and Suraj Dandeniya (Dan) with Pelham Jurianz, Arittha Wikramanayake, Githanjal Rajapakse and Ajith Amarasekera being the reserves. Its forty years this year since that bunch of cricketers performed their mighty deeds on the cricketing stage that belonged to Sri Lanka schools.
The team had somewhat of an inauspicious start to the season, with the skipper not being able to lead the team, due to a decision taken by the Warden. The unity that prevailed in the team and what was in store during the rest of the season was well reflected when the entire team walked into the Warden’s office with a plea to change his decision. However the Warden stood firm, and Sasi’s brother who was the vice captain led the team to trounce St. Sebastian’s at Mount in the opener. The next game against Prince of Wales (POW) was washed off and having missed out on a certain win against Mahinda at Galle due to poor umpiring, the third term ended with another outright win against Zahira.
The first term commenced with an easy outright win against Thurstan followed by convincing wins against Nalanda, St. Sylvester’s and Wesley. Unlike in the present era where over 20 matches are played during a season, only 14 matches were played in 1976 and the champion side won 6 of them outright and drew the rest, winning all matches on first innings other than against Ananda where the first innings deficit was a mere 6 runs that too as a result of a sporty declaration. This was in spite of having to take on the might of Trinity and St. Joseph’s with a depleted team in the absence of Ishy, Aji and Raty who toured Pakistan with the Sri Lanka schools U19 side for the Ali Bhutto Trophy. In fact the Trinitians were bowled out for just 82 runs in the first innings with two bowlers bagging five wickets a piece for 14 and 10. Incidentally, the following teams were shot out for less than 100 during the season:
St. Sebastians 83, Mahinda 86 (73 for 7 in the second innings), Zahira 26 & 57, Thurstan 57 & 94, Nalanda 81, St. Sylvester’s 45, Wesley 91 and Trinity 82.
Ranjan Madugalle saved the day for Royal after being forced to follow-on. Having to get 130 to avert an innings defeat Royal were struggling at tea on the second day of the two-day encounter with the scoreboard reading 74/6. A rare missed opportunity off Ranjan soon after tea allowed Royal to get off the hook and manage a draw.
The Mustang Trophy limited-over encounter against Royal was won with ease. They were unfortunate to lose to St. Joseph’s by a mere 13 runs in the semi-final of the Exide Trophy limited over tournament that followed. Highlight of this match was the hurricane knock of 87 by Miky, the aforementioned dual purpose bowler, who was also an outstanding left-hand No 4 bat in addition to the skills he displayed on the field of rugby. He was unfortunately run out when in full cry and looking certain to carry the side to victory.
Even though the side produced three national cricketers, the following statistics (just three hundreds and only eight hauls of five wickets or more during the season) go to show that the team did not depend on individual performances but relied on sheer team work for success. Eight players averaged over 20 with the bat (two of them over 30), whilst five bowlers had averages of less than 15 per wicket (two of them less than 10)! But statistics do not always tell the whole story
Hundred or more during the season: Raty (100 n.o vs St. Benedict’s), Laki (100 vs St. Sylvester’s), Sasi (101 vs St. Peter’s)
5 or more wickets per innings: Ishy (7 for 19 vs Wesley & 5 for 7 vs Zahira), Daiya (7 for 39 vs St. Benedicts, 5 for 10 vs Trinity & 5 for 14 vs Mahinda), Sali (6 for 17 vs Zahira & 5 for 14 vs Trinity), Ajit (6 for 35 vs Mahinda)
The other aspect was that the side was led by a very positive captain who wanted to win every game and was willing to take calculated risks to achieve this. The moral and unity of the team was unbelievable and hard work was the key to success. The motto of this superbly knit, fun loving team was “all for one & one for all”. This was the motto of the three musketeers and certainly the deeds of this team will surpass those of the musketeers and the brave D’Artagnan.
In the “Observer” schools all-island awards short listings the Lalith Ratnayake was among the top 10 selected to decide on the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in addition to being selected among the best 3 fielders. Saliya Ahangama and Dayal de Silva were also selected among the best nine bowlers whilst Sasi Ganeshan was one of the best 16 batsmen selected, in recognition of their performances during the season.
Although none from the team won individual awards, being awarded the Lifebuoy Shield as the best ALL ISLAND SCHOOLS CRICKET TEAM, was the richest reward and the pinnacle for the hard work during the season and the unity that prevailed within the team.
None of the above would have been possible if not for the focus and commitment of the Master in Charge Mr. Lassie Abeywardena, who virtually carried out the function of a coach as well. He encouraged every player to play his natural game with bat or ball and did not try to change batting techniques or bowling actions, which they were used to through proper guidance and coaching of coaches at junior levels, in the caliber of late Mr. Orville Abeynaike and the late Mr.George Ponniah. He emphasized the importance of fielding and concentrated in motivating the players to give 100% at all times.
The familiar shout of “hey you monkey” in response to a bad shot, a poor delivery or a fielding lapse, keeps ringing in the ears of players even after 40 years. Greats of yesteryear the late Mr. P.I. Peiris, the late Mr. Neil Chanmugam and Mr. H.S.M Peiris are others the team cannot forget for having spent valuable time in spite of their busy job schedules, to give the required guidance and encouragement.
In fact Lassie, Pipa, Neil and Holman as affectionately known to the team were involved with the Thomian teams from 1975-1977, during which 3 seasons STC had the proud distinction of winning outright against St. Sebastian’s (1976 & 1977), Moratu Vidyalaya (1977), Zahira (1976), Thurstan (1975, 1976 &1977), St. Benedict’s (1977), St. Sylvester’s (1976), Ananda (1975), Nalanda (1976), Wesley (1976 & 1977) and St. Peter’s (1977). What a stunning record! The only teams to escape outright defeats were Prince of Wales (play curtailed due to bad weather in all 3 years), Dharmapala (131 for 8 in their second essay needing 153 to avert an innings defeat in 1975), Trinity (managed a draw in 1976 after being all out for 82 in the 1st innings), St. Joseph’s (very lucky to escape certain defeat in 1975 due to a poor umpiring decision in the final over of the match when 9 wickets down), Royal (the lucky escape in 1976). STC did not lose a single match outright during the said three seasons and led on the first innings in all matches other than a couple.
This achievement is even more impressive given the opposing players during these years, such as Sidath Wettimuny, Thilan Wijesinghe, Piyal Perera (Ananda), the late Wirantha Fernando and Premalal Fernando (POW), Anura Ranasinghe, Yohan Goonasekera, Susantha Karunaratne, Hemantha Devapriya (Nalanda), Trevor Croner, Rohan Wijesinghe, Dushan Soza (St. Joseph’s), Dilrukshan de Alwis, Russel Kern (Wesley), Prasanna Kariyawasam, Ranjan Madugalle, Rohan Jayasekera (Royal), Reynold Anandappa, Angelo Wickramaratne (St. Peter’s), Rohan Perera, Ravi Ratnayeke (Trinity), to name a few.
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Old 06-03-16, 02:51 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Karuna and Karuppiah are also remembered for their dedicated services in the pitch/ground preparations, the support extended to every player and even carrying the common Kit bag with the players from college to the Mount rail station and back when the team was traveling outstation!
It is hoped that the College administration, current coaches and players make note of the following facts evident from the above achievements to produce champion Thomian cricket teams in the future.
The team was ably handled by the skipper Sasi Ganeshan who moulded them together and the ultimate goal of the team was more important than any individual. He was a replica of Mike Brearley of England who has a degree in ‘people’. Managing people is all that is needed. But Sasi’s batting was better than that of Mike Brearley. Even amongst the reserves there was a sense of cordiality and when three cricketers from this team left for Pakistan the replacements were there.
The late Guy de Alwis was an outstanding product who later went on to represent the country and got two half centuries in the 1983 World Cup. Ishak Sahabdeen has represented the country in three sports, namely Cricket, Hockey and Indoor Cricket. Saliya Ahangama came good in the series against India in 1985 and Mohamed Azharuddhin was his ‘bunny’. This team also had a unique feature in that two brothers were captain and vice captain of the team. This set of brothers played for three consecutive years and were captain and vice captain in 1976 and skippered in two consecutive years, namely 1976 and 1977. We hope that time does not erase the memory of this team’s performances.
ESTO PERPETUA!
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