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T. Kandaswamy Nalanda's greatest MIC - POG

[Sporting Legends]

Who is a Teacher?
Where ignorance is the Darkness,
Teacher is the light,
Where journey is through,
Teacher is the guide,
Where the vision is hazy,
Teacher is the sight

The success of school sports will always centres round in any school, with a disciplined, committed sports master, or Prefect of Games. They exemplary teachers are role models. Any champion athlete, learns his first lesson in sports under a sports teacher in school. He can always make it or break it, an individual coming under his purview.

Today, I dedicate this article to a Great Teacher, who moulded many cricketing personalities at Nalanda Vidyalaya, Colombo Sri Lanka, once a leading cricket playing school, who produced many Sri Lanka cricketers such as Sri Lanka's and Leicestershire Professional reputed Stanley Jayasinghe, first Test Cricket captain of Sri Lanka Bandula Warnapura, and two more Sri Lanka captains Roshan Mahanama and Marvellous Mahela Jayawardena. Further, Nalanda produced many classy cricketers.

Ushered the Golden Era of Cricket

This particular teacher, late T Kandaswamy was the mentor, philosopher and guide for many Nalandians for nearly four decades from 1930s to 1960s. He ushered the Golden Age of Nalanda Cricket with coach Gerry Gooneratne during the period 1940 to 1960.

Kandaswamy, reputed teacher. He was a great scholar, Mathematician, English, Latin and Civics teacher, Prefect of Games, Master-in-Charge of Cricket. He shone like an evening star. He was a kind-hearted lovable teacher, a strict disciplinarian. He not only taught us cricket, even in the playing field, he taught us English literature and explained to us the "Noble Philosophy" or "Spirit of Cricket", sometimes, quoting poems Sir Henry Newbolt's Vital Lampade - There is a Breathless hush in the close to Night ... Play up play up play the game and at times he quotes - "Remember cricket is not merely hitting the ball with a bat. Build your character. Live a righteous life. Be a productive Sri Lankan. Love Sri Lanka. Remember this poem.

"When the great scorer comes;
To write against your name,
He writes not that you won or lost
But, how you played the game."

"Children be men of honesty and integrity.

My close association with T Kandaswamy began in 1956. I have never played Junior Cricket at Nalanda. This particular year 1956, during the Third Term, I played in a House Match and fared well as an opening batsman and wicket keeper. He has been watching me from the balcony.

Following day, when our Sinhala Teacher late Ridgeway Tillekeratne (who later was the secretary of the Ministry of State and Chairman of SLBC) was taking Vannupatha Jataka from our HSC and University Entrance class, a boy entered our class, with a small note. RT read the note.

"Epasinghe, after this period, go and meet Mr Kandaswamy".
I met him.
He took my ear turned it, round.
I was wondering what was happening.
Kandaswamy opened his mouth.
"You dirty swine.
Boy do you know that you're hiding your precious wealth under a bush.
I saw your excellent innings.
You have a big future in cricket.
Playing against six or seven first xi players.
You taught them a good lesson - How to concentrate and bat and building an innings.
Turn up for First xi practices tomorrow.

"Sir, I don't have a pair of cricket boots, I used Tennis shoes" I told him to avoid going for practices."

"That's not my problem.

You can do three things - Beg - Borrow or Steal."

This great teacher, my mentor Mr T Kandaswamy stated.

"Epasinghe, out of the three things I mentioned, never ever steal. What is your shoes size.

(Apparently I did not know) Measure it and give it to me. I will buy you a pair of shoes from my money. Tomorrow you will get it. First xi practice tomorrow at 2.30 pm.

Jayawickrema Perera - Fine left arm pacie

I was a new fresher. For my luck there was another tall, lanky boy, junior to me. He spoke to me. I asked his name. He said Jayawickrema Perera (Former Minister of Irrigation and Water Management, the present Chairman of the United National Party - UNP and a Member of Parliament NWP) Then there was a short and chubby boy - Daya Illukumbura. They spoke to me and instantly we became friends.

I wore a new pair of cricket boots. I was thrilled. I thanked Mr Kandaswamy. My beloved teacher. There were three seniors. I knew only Stanley Jayasinghe and Kandaswamy. Later I knew the other gentleman was cricket coach Gerry Gooneratne. "Epasinghe, pads. The commanding voice was from Mr Kandaswamy's.

I batted. The new ball was given to Jayawickrema Perera. He was a fine left arm fast bowler. I negotiated him well. Then I faced off-spinners Mahawatta Premaratne and Mahinda Atulatmduali, bowled at me.

To cut a long story short - I was selected as wicket keeper, opening batsman after passing the "test."

I related this story to show, today how dedicated the old teachers were. For them, teaching was not a job - social work. Even today, I always invoke my meritorins Blessings to this great teacher who was responsible to mould me into where I am.

Mrs Kandaswamy - Mother to all of us

Mr and Mrs Kandaswamy did not have children. For this couple, all Nalanda cricketers were their own children. Mrs Kandaswamy, always feed us with bread, butter, cheese, toast and marmite. "Puthalata Mama Kema Genawa". What a great mother Mrs Kandaswamy was. We were dead scared of Kandaswamy. Heart of hearts, we loved him. If we play a "rash shot", he takes up this at Team Meetings. He makes severe comments.

Transfer of training in real life

As cricketers, we leant many from this great teacher Kandaswamy. The lessons we learned in the cricket field became a Transfer of Training in our real life. I doubt whether, the present day teachers are bold enough to take decisions like this nature.

Stanley Jayasinghe's comment

"I will never forget what the greatest cricketer produced by Nalanda - Stanley Jayasinghe expressed about his beloved Guru T Kandaswamy.

"Kandaswamy was mainly instrumental in converting my Nalanda team 1950-1951 into a disciplined side. There were many "Yakkhas" in that side. But they became law abiding citizens. We thank Kandaswamy Sir, for all what he did to us. He was a Marvellous Gentleman. We owe a great debt to this fine human being.

Kandaswamy was a Man of Impeccable Integrity and Honesty. He always stood for Fair-play and Justice. His contribution has been outstanding. It will be remembered for all times. Sometimes, it may be matched may be some day, but I am positive that it cannot be surpassed.

Name Nalanda Pavillion as T Kandaswamy

There are two great personalities who were instrumental in building the sports facilities infrastructures at Nalanda. The brilliant Oxford scholar, Old Thomian, M F De S Jayaratne, Principal of Nalanda and T Kandaswamy were the brains behind to put up the Nalanda pavillion. I appal to Nalanda Authorities and Old Boys, well, wishers to name the Nalanda pavillion as M F De S Jayaratne pavillion or T Kandaswamy pavilion.

Noble Principles of the Greatest Nalandian - President Mahinda Rajapaksa

As Nalanda's Greatest old boy President Mahinda Rajapaksa united Sri Lanka after thirty years, and as he believes in the "Philosophy of one Sri Lanka" it will be more appropriate to name the Nalanda Pavillion T Kandaswamy pavillion, and show the world, that Nalandians never care for caste, race, creed or religion and always believe their all races in Sri Lanka should live together like brothers and sisters.


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