Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)

A schoolboy who made the grade and played for the national team


Stanley Jayasinghe, born 1931, was a household name in cricket in the 1950’s. Educated at Nalanda College Colombo, and captained his school in 1951, he was an outstandin­g right-hand batsman and a part- time off- spinner as well. He had the distinctio­n of playing for Ceylon whilst in school. Two of his team-mates, opening batsmen Carl Obeyeseker­a and Ashley de Silva were also national players, the latter being a 12th man.

What an honour for the school. Just imagine having three schoolboys who were simultaneo­usly national players. This indicates the standard of school cricket in that era. No wonder there were spectators galore including many a schoolboy who used to ‘cut’ school to watch their heroes in action.

Jayasinghe continued his career in England – in the early 1960s - by first playing in the leagues and was soon ab s o r b e d by Leicesters­hire county. Indeed Jayasinghe was soon joined by outstandin­g Peterite left-hander Clive Inman, who had the distinctio­n earlier of scoring a double century in their big match against St. Joseph’s. It is no secret that Inman was probably recommende­d by Jayasinghe to play for the county.

There is an unusual record attributed to Inman, who smashed a half-century in county cricket in seven minutes. However that was soon removed from first- class records since the opposition was giving easy runs away in order to obtain an early declaratio­n. Still one has to hit the ball to get runs – no easy task to obtain 50+ runs.

Jayasinghe went on to play domestic cricket for the Nondescrip­ts (NCC) with great distinctio­n and was also respected for his knowledge on pitches. In fact Jayasinghe was consulted in the preparatio­n of the pitch at Khettarama. Jayasinghe was also a member of the National Selection Committee and did not brook any nonsense from any quarter.

In 1965 he publicly refused to play against the white-only South Africans, who were touring England, after his own experience­s of racism playing against the South Africans in 1960. He retired in 1968/ 69 and became a highly respected coach thereafter and was appointed Manager of the national team that toured New Zealand.

Whilst p l ay i n g a P. Saravanamu­ttu Trophy match against Nondescrip­ts at their home grounds, Jayasinghe played a scorching cover drive off our Bloomfield left- arm bowler Dr. J. G. C. Peiris. The ball was soon hurtling to the boundary to my left. However, being a left-hander, I stopped the ball and returned it to our wicket-keeper.

Whilst changing for the next over, Jayasinghe casually mentioned: “Mahinda, I forgot you were a left-hander.”

The very next over he sent a cover drive to my right that hit the boundary before I could move. That is how the likes of Jayasinghe knew the game. In September 2018, he was one of 49 former Sri Lankan cricketers felicitate­d by Sri Lanka Cricket, to honour them for their services before Sri Lanka became a Full Member of the Internatio­nal Cricket Council.

Indeed when Ceylon beat India (not in a Test match of course) at Ahmadabad in the mid- 1960 Stanley played a lead role though not as a batsman.

He was also appointed a Manager of the national team that toured New Zealand. A very unusual incident happened during this tour. Due to an injury (a fracture to the finger) to a senior member of the side, who happened to be a close relative of the captain, manager Jayasinghe wanted to send him back home and get a replacemen­t player. A big hue and cry ensued and the players wanted to still keep the injured player with the team.

However Jayasinghe insisted in sending him back home and get a replacemen­t. Finally a replacemen­t player was obtained and he arrived. Now the new player was at the nets but he was not being given a batting turn. Finally Jayasinghe asked the skipper to give the new arrival a batting turn in the nets. Glad to say – although he had missed the first ‘Test’ he came up trumps in the next encounters with handsome innings.

So there were wheels within wheels in cricket administra­tion from that time. Not that any of it has eased up now.

 ??  ?? Stanley Jayasinghe (5th from right) at a felicitati­on ceremony
Stanley Jayasinghe (5th from right) at a felicitati­on ceremony

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