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[Life and times in sport]

Internationally reputed cricketer



 Stanley Jayasinghe

MORE than five and half decades ago, this great cricketer was responsible in inserting Ceylon, in the cricketing map of the world. He was undoubtedly the greatest gentlemanly cricketer produced by Nalanda College, Colombo, and one of the best exponents of the game produced by Sri Lanka.

He was a Missionary who took the Sri Lanka's Cricket message to the International world in the 1950s.

I presume, there is a big difference between Good Players and Great Players. He belongs to the latter category. He improvised his shot selections. For him, it was a born talent.

Stanley Jayasinghe was a brilliant allround cricketer who played for Ceylon, and Leicestershire as an outstanding and illustrious professional. He represented Leicestershire for more than a decade with distinction. He did the double (1000 runs and 100 wickets) many times.

In 1950, Jayasinghe, while a schoolboy at Nalanda Vidyalaya, had the proud distinction of representing Ceylon against a commonwealth XI. Then, in 1953, he played against the England Team led by Sir Len Hulton.

Where is this brilliant, outstanding cricketer Stanley Jayasinghe, now?

Believe it or not, he is a farmer at the wilds of Tanamalwila.

Jayasinghe is a man of principles. He is a disciplinarian. He is a man of honesty and integrity. He is a great sportsman who calls spade a spade.

Unassuming, pleasant, charming cricketing personality: Jayasinghe, never sold his soul to rupees and cents, sterling pounds or South African Rands.

Further, he never went behind seeking positions in cricket administration. Unfortunately these qualifications and principles are disqualifications in our motherland today.

In the early 1980s, when Sir Lanka gained Test status, the greatest President of the Board of Control for cricket in Sri Lanka, charming, charismatic Gamini Dissanayake, invited Sir Garfield Sobers, to coach the Sri Lanka National Cricket Team. Great Sobers, asked a very tricky question from the cricket chief GD.

"Sir, why do you need my services, in Sri Lanka, when you have an Internationally reputed renowned complete cricketer, coach, motivater, disciplinarian and a fine gentleman like Stanley Jayasinghe, the former Leicestershire Professional in the country.

He is an authority in preparing wickets too. I have played against him. He is simply brilliant. I am sure, he will do a better job than me. He possesses all ingredients to make your team world beaten in few years," stated sir Garfield Sobers.

Well, there is a saying, prophets are not honoured in their own land.

Today, he away from cricket, and its administration. He never liked "Cricket Politics". He lives a very peaceful, happy and a servene life most of the time in his farm at Tanamalwila, away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

He owns a 16 acre land in Tanamalwila. Stanley, like farming and he is a lover of nature. He was born on 19th January 1931 at Badulla.

Going down the memory lane, my mind goes back to 1957, when I played for Nalanda First XI as a wicket-keeper opening batsmen. I still echo the "Putt, Putt" sound that comes from the Kittyakara Mawatha.

Stanley rides his motor-cycle along the path, adjoining Taxila Building, parks the bike, alights, and walks majestically swiftly to take our practices.

"Chadrasiri, did Sarath, Shirley, Daya Illukkumbura and Epasinghe bat" - "Except Epasinghe, other three had a batting turn", Chandrasiri replies.

"Mitra, you keep wickets when Epasinghe bat. Jayawickreme, Weerasinghe, take the new ball. Stanley was a dedicated, excellent coach. I am really indebted to him and my beloved coach Gerry Gooneratne.

In my stint as an opening bat-wicket keeper, I played for University, Saracens, Bloomfield, Department of Education (Govt Service), Bank of Ceylon (Nationalised Services) from 1958-1986.

T. Kandaswamy - Gerry Gooneratne

The dawn of the golden era of Nalanda cricket began with Stanley Jayasinghe. If you consider Nalanda as "Taxila in Cricket" in Sri Lanka, 'there were two Disapamok Accharyas" - Gurus - T. Kandaswamy - Master-in-Charge and prefect of games, Gerry Gooneratne our beloved coach. They guided Stanley to greater heights.

Jayasinghe, played for Nalanda from 1948-1951 and captaincy in 1951. As a schoolboy, he represented Ceylon in 1950 and he missed the opportunity of leading Nalanda in 1950. It was A. W. Dharmadasa, wicket keeper who captained and won the Big Match this year.

Jayasinghe champion out fit were the official school cricket champions in 1950. The team consisted of Ashley De Silva, Carl and Valentine Obeysekera Twins, Sarath Hewagama, Walter Amarasinghe, W. H. S. Samarasekera, W. J. Jayasuriya, W. Chandrapala, Terrence Rodrigo, W. Abeysinghe.

From 1951, he played for SSC, NCC and Nomads in Sri Lanka and some of his contemporaries were M. Sathasivam, Col. F. C. De Saram, C. I. Gunasekera, Vernon Prins, Bertie Wijesinha, Dr. H. I. K. Fernando, Abu Fuard, Lucean De Soysa, Ben Navaratne, Malcolm Spittle, Malcolm Franke etc.

In the world circuit he played against Sobers, Walcott, Weeks, Worrel, Hutton, Miller, Laker, Trueman, Statham, Lock, Wesley Hall, etc.

Jayasinghe's has a fine track record as one of the best all-rounders in the club circuit in Sri Lanka.

In the 1949/50, first class matches, he scored six centuries and held 109 catches. Further in the bowling department, he captured 34 wickets for 1197 runs.

In the first un-official Test match played in India, Sri Lanka beat India, in 1964. Jayasinghe, was the Architect of this Grand Victory, recorded for the first time and that also in a foreign soil.

After playing professional cricket in England, he returned to the island and started a private coaching clinic for few years.

On invitation, he took up to cricket administration and served as a very successful cricket manager.

For many years, he insisted and advised the cricket authorities that they should prepare fast wickets with grass, so that our cricketers will used to face real fast bowling.

But the so called cricketing Pandits never listened to his advice. The recent Sri Lanka "A" Team disaster is one good example. He was a fine sports writer and journalist and a columnist, who wrote his ideas and views as features in a leading English Newspaper. He wrote fearlessly.

It is rather unfortunate that a cricket Maestro, an Internationally recognised cricketer of Jayasinghe's calibre, is sidelined today. It is a big loss for Sri Lanka cricket.

Jayasinghe is a fine human being and a gentleman of the highest calibre. Jayasinghe likes the eco-friendly environment. He is a man who moved with kings as well as humble villagers.

The people at Tanamalwila love him. He helps the poor villagers in big way and is a social service worker, sans publicity, he helps the border villagers.

He is a good Samaritan. Happily married to Erica, that sweet charming epitome of womanhood, they are blessed with a daughter named Yvonne.

In concluding these few lines, I suggest, propose and appeal, to the dynamic young principal Hemantha Prematilake and the old boys, both seniors and Juniors to name Nalanda Pavilion, in the name of Jayasinghe the greatest cricketer ever produced by Nalanda.

Remember, he is the man who ushered the Golden Era of Cricket - Nalanda, and he is first Nalandian to inscribe the name of Nalanda, in the History of World Cricket Internationally.

He paved way to all other Nalandians, to represent in the Test arena later.

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