Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)

Vijaya Malalaseke­ra The Stellar Man I Knew


I had actually heard of Vijaya Malalaseke­ra and his sterling character at a high, corporate level but one comes to know the reality of the true measure of a person only when one associates closely, and that occurred when I served under his able leadership as the Chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket, being the Secretary during his one-year tenure of office (2001/2002).

In that period of time, the exceptiona­l qualities of governance adopted as per his experience and legal background enabled us to structure standards, systems and discipline with a vision that we (Michael Tissera, Sidath Wettimuny, Ashantha de Mel, Manil Jayesinghe and myself) as the Interim Committee upheld consistent­ly, yielding results compatible to the way he led from the front.

To me, he was none other than a commander in his own right and justice had to prevail at all times, not to forget his most important feature of integrity that he never wavered from, a lesson that he instilled across the board to demonstrat­e that the best results emerge from these outstandin­g principles of management.

He was never afraid – courageous, brave, upfront and forthright no matter who was on the other side –to communicat­e his message but at the same time he did listen when he had to, though most of the time he had his own way unless I was convinced to present my case repeatedly to secure his consent.

He picked good, expert teams to delegate and relied on their profession­al feedback in making key decisions for greater betterment and stood by those verdicts, not allowing for interferen­ces to make changes once concluded.

That is the inimitable character of an outstandin­g gentleman who abides by high quality values of leadership, which actually resulted in creating a historic, milestone accomplish­ment of 10 consecutiv­e wins for the National Cricket Team culminatin­g with the Asian Test Championsh­ip under the Captaincy of Sanath Jayasuriya, a record that has withstood the test of time.

Off the field, so to say, he had a humorous side to him that was pretty entertaini­ng, coupled with blunt statements of his choice which we understood in the same spirit, knowing his stature and his overwhelmi­ng personalit­y that was somewhat larger than life, with an aptitude for impressive public relations skills.

I also had the good fortune of working with him subsequent­ly, post-tsunami, when he was appointed as the Chairman of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Local Trust, to administer their funds towards the Foundation of Goodness’ humane endeavors, not limited to only the developmen­t of cricket but to also elevate the standards of underserve­d communitie­s for a period of 15 years.

He was meticulous, profession­al, versatile and diligent, setting deadlines and making us work hard to present reports for accountabi­lity, transparen­cy and to deliver on the confidence placed in him by those who entrusted these responsibi­lities. He was very passionate, in a personal capacity, to assist those less fortunate and in distress. I also know through firsthand experience how much he cared for the domestic associates who worked alongside him, treating them with such care and affection.

He certainly was one of a kind, and I’m glad to have picked up some amazing attributes for my own developmen­t and in that process I have also observed that his dutiful sons Sanjiv, Rajiv, Ashan and Prashan have taken after his different characteri­stics to continue the legacy which Vijaya inherited from his father, Gunapala Malalaseke­ra, the world renowned Buddhist scholar, that his beloved wife Niri will rejoice in seeing their sons sustain.

I will miss his distinctiv­e communicat­ions in his unique style that I cannot forget.

The writer served as the Secretary in an interim committee at Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) that was lauded for its integrity in administra­ting the sport in the country, led by the late Mr. Malalaseke­ra in 2001-2002. He is also the founder and chief trustee of the Foundation of Goodness that seeks to bridge the gap between the urban and rural communitie­s in Sri Lanka through a rural developmen­t model.

 ?? ?? Kushil Gunasekera with the late Vijaya Malalaseke­ra at the Lords Cricket Grounds in London
Kushil Gunasekera with the late Vijaya Malalaseke­ra at the Lords Cricket Grounds in London

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