[Life and times in sport]
All cricket rolled into one - Nisal Senaratne
I still remember very well, the Prince of Wales-Nalanda inter-school
cricket match played at Nalanda Ground in 1950. I was a tiny tot in
Grade Four at Nalanda. We were all their to cheer Stanley Jayasinghe and
his band of cricketers - Ashley de Silva, Carl Obeysekera, Valentine
Obeysekera, Sarath Hewagama, A. Dharmadasa (wicket-keeper), W.H.S.
Samarasekera, W.J. Jayasuriya, Walter Amarasinghe, Donald Perera, W.W.
Silva, Ananda de Zoysa and W. Chandrapala.
I was one among thousands who witnessed the match.
Going down the memory lane I vividly remember the swashbuckling
power-packed innings of Stanley Jayasinghe hammering the day lights out
of the Cambrian attack, those mighty sixers, he towered over the Nalanda
In the midst of all these fireworks, I was really impressed by the
Prince of Wales wicket-keeper. He was very smart agile, and gave lot of
life to his side.
For a moment, I was resolved within myself, one day, I will keep
wickets for Nalanda, inspired by this brilliant power wicket-keeper. The
stumper in reference is none other than NISAL SENARATNE.
Any way, I achieved my ambition after seven years and in 1957, I kept
wickets and opened batting for the unbeaten Nalanda First XI. Later, I
kept wicket for the university and in the club cricket too.
Another schoolboy wicket-keeper whom I admired at that time was our
own A. Dharmadasa, stumper of the 1950 Nalanda team.
Nisal Senaratne was born on February 7, 1932 in Moratuwa into a
cricketing family. His father Hubert and his brothers George (Rev. G.A.F.)
Oscar (O.T.f.) and Owen (Dr. O.L.F) were outstanding cricketers in the
1910s, and they had the proud distinction of captaining the Prince of
Wales College, Moratuwa.
Dr. O.L.F. Senaratne represented Ceylon against New Zealand and later
was a selector of the Board of Control for Cricket. Young Nisal was an
outstanding schoolboy wicket-keeper, batsman. He followed the footsteps
of his illustrious father and uncle and captained the Prince of Wales
College in 1950/1951.
He had the honour of representing the Combined Schools XI in 1949
against the star-studded West Indies team which included the super stars
- Jeft Stollmeyer, Alan Rae, Gerry Gomez and George Headly - popular
known as the "Black Bradman". Then, he was only 17 years old. A rare
Nisal showed great promise as a schoolboy cricketer. In the year
1949, he was invited to lead the Combined Colleges XI against the
Formidable Club Champions - SSC, led by F.C. De Saram.
After leaving school, he joined the SSC and represented the club in
the Sara Trophy Tournament with distinction. In 1951, Nisal was selected
to play against the MCC led by Nigel Howard. Donald Carr who later
became the Secretary of the T.C.C.B. too played for the MCC.
Represented Sri Lanka
The big break for Nisal was downed in the year 1952, when he
represented Ceylon against the Commonwealth Team captained by Jack
"I still remember that master batsman Frank Worrell scoring a
glorious double century against us at the Colombo Oval. It was
undoubtedly an epic innings," stated Nisal.
He was selected to tour twice with State Services Teams under the
captaincy of late B.R. Heyn and Vernon Prins. He actively pushed his
skills at a fine when representative games were very scare. Cricket was
Senaratne loved Moratuwa, the coastal town in the South situated less
than 20 kilometres from Colombo. When Moratuwa Sports Club was promoted
to the 'A' Division, he seized the opportunity to play for his home town
club until his retirement in 1965, after 17 years of club cricket.
Disciplined Senaratne - Man of honesty integrity
Senaratne was an unassuming humane being who maintained a very high
degree of honesty and integrity. He was a strick disciplinarian too. He
worked his Alma-Mater for nearly 12 years, produced many outstanding
Fine cricket administrator
As the Honorary Secretary of the Moratuwa Sports Club, Nisal steered
the club during difficult times, resulting in its recognition as a
leading contender in club cricket.
Nisal interest in the administration of the game dates back to the
late 1950s, when he actively participated in the Captain of the
Tournaments. In 1962, he was elected as the Assistant Secretary of the
Board of Control. He managed the Ceylon team led by C.I. Gunasekera that
won the Gopalan Trophy encounter at Chennai (Madras).
Secretary of BCCSL
Nisal was elected Secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in
Sri Lanka, in 1964 and 1965. He was elected Secretary in 1977/1978 and
1980/1981, the transitional period of Sri Lanka cricket.
Due to the inability of T.B. Werapitiya to leave the country to
attend the ICC conference in 1980, Nisal was assigned to represent Sri
Lanka at the International Cricket Conference, when the formal
application for full membership was discussed.
A comprehensive report and a Brochure was presented to the conference
and spite of his valiant efforts, it was rejected by the ICC.
However, it was a pleasant coincidence for him to have met Alan Rae,
Jeft Stolmeyer and Donald Carr, with whom he had cricketing contracts in
the field earlier. In this meeting the ICC accepted. Sri Lanka's plea
that England and Australia should take a positive stand at the next
Gamini Dissanayake "Yugapurusha" of Sri Lanka Cricket
After a successful Aussie visit to Sri Lanka in April 1981, in
response to the promise made by the Australian Cricket Board at the
conference, Sri Lanka embarked on the historic tour of England managed
by Nisal and captained by Bandula Warnapura.
When this tour was in progress, the International Cricket Conference
was held. The President of the BCCSL Gamini Dissanayake - "Yugapurusha",
Man of the Era, of Sri Lanka cricket, with his brilliant presentation
won the day, when, Sri Lanka's application for full membership was
successfully steered through. Nisal was also in attendance on this
To Nisal, fell the honour of organising so successfully the first
official Test and that with England, an unforgettable event and historic
as well, in view of the celebration of 100 years of cricket for between
England and Sri Lanka.
"It was a great pleasure to work with a great president like Gamini
Dissanayake. We had a fine set of administrators and cricket was in
their heart, body and soul. We never worked for any financial gains. We
all worked as a team.
Our "Team Spirit" was very high. We were dedicated and committed to
achieve one thing - to improve the standard of cricket locally and
internationally. That was the main reason why we were elected by the
clubs democratically" stated Nisal.
Member of MCC
Nisal is a member of the Maryleborne Cricket Club. His election as a
member of MCC is an indication of the respect and recognition he has
earned in the International Cricket Arena.
Nisal Senaratne, was an Civil Engineer attached to the Highways -
Public Works Department. His three brothers Hemal, Jathu, Rasin and
sister's name is Jayothi.
Nisal exchanged rings with Hyacinth in the year 1965. They have a son
Nalaka and daughter Surangi.