Oldest living Royal captain, Pat McCarthy, no more
The former All Ceylon, NCC and the oldest living Royal College
cricket captain, Pat McCarthy, at 88 slipped through life peacefully to
move over for rest, in that Elysian abode, a preserve for only the
Pat, as he was affectionately spoken of was a Ceylonese by descent
and passed away in Australia, his home by adoption. Time and distance
however, has in no way erased from the minds of many a Royalist,
especially the elderly who recall with fond memories of his
extraordinary brilliance as a cricketer in the mid and late thirties for
Royal under the principalship of L. H. W. Sampson.
The young, born too late to remember him at his peak, but old enough
to learn of his heroic deeds for Royal as a rare sportsman. Pat McCarthy
spent his childhood, formative years and adulthood in Ceylon (as the
country was then known) spanning a period from 1916 to 1948 from whence
he migrated to Australia, at the probable age of 32.
Those were the glorious years of this paradise isle, where every
prospect pleased and, man as well, wasn’t vile. Influenced by the
prevailing healthy environment, he led a life given to sober disciplined
ways, to be unassuming and modest in all his ways. He was a prefect at
Royal and proved to be a meticulous student with a penchant for sports.
C. Ivers Gunesekera, endowed with a fine physique and all round
cricketing ability, a glamorous ideal gift to the game of cricket, was a
classmate of Pat McCarthy, who was his senior, played cricketer for
Ivers speaking of Pat, said that he was a very sociable friendly
person and, that in his long association with Pat until he left for
Australia, he never found him saying anything derogatory of another -
truly the hallmark of an exemplary human being.
He was a versatile sportsman at Royal, where he excelled as an
athlete in events like the pole vault, long jump and sprints. At tennis
he was adjudged the National Juvenile Tennis Champ and was as well a
swimmer of repute. But by far his strength lay in cricket, he was very
inch a cricketer. Evidence of this was seen in his mannerism and
approach, that was suggestive of one oozing with talent for the game.
Pat McCarthy represented Royal College at cricket from 1935 to 1938.
Those were the glamorous years of cricket, where each school had star
studded sides to be very competitive - with a good crop of fair
complexioned cricketers, who with the red cherry (cricket ball) in their
hands against the green sward, made things look ever so colourful to be
picturesque and drew large crowds to witness matches.
Pat was a prodigious right hand bat, was a prolific run getter,
scoring freely against most schools, to become a household name. He
figures in 4 Royal-Thomian cricket encounters, where on his debut in
1935 under A. N. Dharmaratne he made 54. S. Thomas’ captained by Donald
Fairweather won by 153 runs.
In 1936 Royal was led by Ryle de Soysa with S. Thomas’ skippered by
Fairweather, the match was left drawn, with Pat making 98 and Thomian
Norman Siebel establishing a record, scoring an unbeaten 151 - M.
Sivanathan led Royal in 1937 while Willie Jayatilleke captained S.
Pat didn’t do much in both innings and S. Thomas’ won by 3 wickets.
In his final year in 1938 he led Royal with Bertie Wijesinghe captaining
S. Thomas’. Royal did well to make 351 for 7 with pat making a parting
81. S. Thomas’ made 112 and 152 and lost by an innings and 87 runs.
The Royal College cricket team of 1936 under Ryle de Soysa of which
pat was a member, created history when for the first time a school team
left the shores of the country on a tour to Australia.
The most eventful match of the tour was against Melbourne High School
where the Australian cricket captain W. M. (Bill) Woodful was the
headmaster. Woodful was highly impressed with Pat McCarthy’s fielding
and batting and that of Keith Miller of his school, which made him say,
that they were future prospects for their respective countries.
Pat while in school, played against the Aussies for All-Ceylon in
1938. He did so for his club NCC, where he was a star batsman and a
During World War II he enlisted in the Ceylon Garrison Artillery in
1940 and was demobilised in 1946 with the rank of major and thereafter
served as a surveyor for awhile and left for Australia.
Pat played cricket for Western Australia under the captaincy of Ken
Meulman and did well to hold his own against the Aussie cricketing
Pat McCarthy and his contemporaries with their brand of enterprising
cricket here in those earlier years, did much to sustain and foster the
cause of cricket in the island - a very valid contribution indeed.
It could be said of Pat that he belonged to that all too rare, almost
extinct breed called the cultured Ceylonese - on whom Cardinal Newman’s
definition of a gentleman that “he is one who does not inflict pain on
another” is almost tailor-made. How true, only remembered by the things