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[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.

Nisal Senaratne

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 Pavilion.

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.

Cricketing family

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 achievement indeed.

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 Livingstone.

"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 his life.

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 cricketers.

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 sessions.

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 historic occasion.

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.

Personal life

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.



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