Life and times in sport by Premasara Epasinghe
All-round and outstanding sports personality
He is a multi-faceted sportsman. As a schoolboy, he started with
badminton, then took up to athletics, and cricket and ended his sports
career as National Player, Manager and a coach in squash. A fine sports
administrator, today, he is the newly elected President/Chairman of
Gymkhana Club - Colombo Cricket Club.
He is Atulugamage Shammi Shiraj Silva, popularly known as Shammi
Undoubtedly, Shammi Silva, is a many faceted personality that has
endeared himself to a vast cross-section of sports fans.
He was born on August 7, 1960. His father was Piyadasa Silva and his
beloved mother's name Seelawathie Silva. He entered Nalanda Vidyalaya,
Colombo in 1966. His brother's name is Dilruk Silva.
Established public schools record
"From my childhood, I took a liking to sports, especially athletics.
In 1973, I won the first place in Putt-shot and Discus Throw events in
the Public schools meet held in 1974. Then, in 1975, I won the
Putt-shot, Discuss and Javaline Throw events. In 1976, I won all these
three events in the Public schools meet establishing three new meet
records," stated Silva.
At Nalanda, Cricket was the glamour game. In 1976, Silva tried his
hand at cricket. This rolly-polly smart stocky, athlete, made his mark
as a fine all-rounder. He was a pace bowler and a hand-hitting batsman.
While playing in the junior Under 16 cricket team he got his break to
play in the First XI in 1976, under the captaincy of S. P. Fernando. He
played along with Susantha Karunaratne, Hemantha Devapriya and Aruna
Ranasinghe/Anura Ranasinghe's younger brother.
In 1980, he had the proud distinction of leading the Nalanda First
XI. Sanath Kaluperuma, Keerthi Ranasinghe, late Roshan Gunaratne,
Bandula de Silva and Devaka Mahanama played under him.
Indebted to late Gerry Gooneratne
"As a schoolboy, I played Division One cricket for CCC under Michael
Tissera. It was a great experience. I learned a lot and learned the
finer points of the game. Here I must mention, that it was my beloved
father who guided me and helped me in my sports career. At school, I
learned my basics under that great coach late Gerry Gooneratne. He not
only taught us cricket but moulded our character too. I am really
indebted to him," stated Silva.
Gymkhana Club - CCC
He was very fortunate to be a member of one of the oldest clubs in
Sri Lanka, established in 1863 - Gymkhana Club. Under the Gymkhana club
umbrella there were three clubs - CH&FC (Rugby & Hockey) Colombo Cricket
Club (cricket) Queens Club (Tennis).
For Shammi Silva, Gymkhana Club, Colombo 7 is his second home. Today,
he is the newly elected Chairman of the club. In a phase of two and half
decades he achieved this prestigious position through sheer dedication,
discipline, commitment and hard work. Some day, his name will be written
in Gold for the services he rendered to the uplift of the Gymkhana Club,
specially as the Project Chairman of the Gymkhana Pool Complex. Today,
this prestigious club has a membership of over 1,110 members. About six
or seven decades ago, Colombo Cricket Club was an exclusive club for
Being a member of the Gymkhana Club for past 26 years, he witnessed
many change and improvements to the club. To mention a few achievements
would be the club gaining Test status as a venue in cricket, Floodlit,
Tennis courts, Indoor Cricket Nets and International standard Class Back
Two Squash Courts.
The latest addition being the new building which consists of 25 meter
swimming pool, a learners pool and a kiddies pool.
Shammi's qualities as a captain
The role of leadership is more significant in cricket than in any
sport. The captain must know how to deploy whatever skills his players
have at their disposal.
In short, a captain must get the best out of his team, by helping
them to play together, without suppressing their flair and uniqueness.
It is a requirement of captaincy not to panic in situations. The
great captains, like others who command respect, have some indefinable
quality called Charisma.
Shammi Silva possessed all these qualities when he captained college
He captained the CCC in 1983/1984 with distinction. Roger Wijesooriya,
Grahem Labrooy, Asanga Seneviratne, Sumithra Warnakulasuriya, Ken De
Alwis and Jerome Jayaratne were some of the outstanding players in his
In 1985, he bid farewell to cricket and started his career as a
squash player. Soon, he became the No. 2 squash player to Gihan Fernando
in Sri Lanka and won National Colours. He toured Kuwait and India with
the Sri Lanka Team.
With the formation of the Squash Federation, he became an active
member, a player, manager and coach. He mastered the game so well very
soon, he was appointed as the National Coach for Squash. He became a
fine Squash administrator and was elected as the Manager of the Sri
Lanka National Squash Team at the Commonwealth Games held in Malaysia
and Asian Games held in Bangkok. Sri Lanka's No. 1 Squash player Saman
Tillekeratne was coached by Shammi Silva.
He is happily married to Roberta. They have two daughters - Shashinka
and Shanilka who are studying at St. Bridget's Convent, Colombo 7.
Unassuming, charming, pleasant Shammi Silva, is one of the nicest
sportsmen that I have met. He is a fine human being and a thorough
I congratulate Shammi, the newly elected Chairman of the Gymkhana
Club of Sri Lanka.