Sargo Jayawickrema - one of the greatest of batsmen of Ceylon
I presume, in cricket, there is a difference between a good player
and a great player. The great players, concentrate and improvise their
shot selection. The good players rely on bad balls. The difference is,
great player, takes good balls and turns them into bad balls. Sometimes,
a great player "pick a peach of a ball" and despatches into the ropes.
The great cricketer has the patience, perseverance, hunger and desire
and a drive to score runs.
Today, I feature a great Sri Lankan cricketer, who was one of the
gratest, a legend, that the present day cricketers and cricketing
fraternity should know. I firmly believe, a nation that forgets history
has no future. In our cricket history the names such as Dr. C.H.
Gunasekera (Sn) Sargo Jayawickrema, M. Sathasivam, F.C. De Saram, C.I.
Gunasekera, Bertie Wijesingha Vernon Prins paceman D.S. Jayasundera,
Sonny Yatawara, wicket keepers Ben Navaratne, Ranjith Fernando, Dr.
H.I.K. Fernando, Spinner Lucien De Zoysa, Daya Sahabandu Abu Fuard, Gery
Gooneratne, Stanley Jayasinghe, Michael Tissera, Anura Thennekoon, etc
who played for Ceylon Sri Lnaka, before 1982, live forever. In fact
these cricketers were the ones that saddled the present day cricketers.
Sagaradattha Sudirikku Jayawickrama, the great Sri Lankan Cricketer
was born on 10th January 1911, as the third son and the 11th in a family
of 12. He was born at Amarasiri Walauwa, Galle. His father worked as an
Interpreter Mudilyar at Galle Courts and when transferred to Kegalle,
little "Sargo" he was popularly known started schooling at Kegalu
convent and later when the family settled in Panadura, little Sargo,
joined Royal College, Colombo 7.
He first played for Royal First XI in 1927 and in the Royal-Thomian,
(48th encounter) Jayawickrema scored 3 and 32 respectively. In 1928, he
scored 2 and 32. He took the wicket of Thomian opener D.W. Gunawardena
caught and bowled for 19. In the second innings captured 5 for 24 which
include a future Prime Minister of Ceylon - Thomian, Dudley Senanayake
clean bowled for 06 runs.
In the jubilee Royal-Thomian (50th encounter) played on 14 and 15th
March 1929, Jayawickrema scored 32, (run out), and in the second innings
collected 17. In bowling, he had a match bag of 2 for 58. In this
Jubilee Match Thomian Dudley Senanayake scored 32 and 14 runs
Playing in the 51 Royal-Thomian, - Royal scored 346 for 8 with D.B.
Gunasekera scoring 148 and R. Jeganathan as a batsman No. 8 scored 92.
Thomians scored 137 and 142. Jayawickrema scored nought (0). His wicket
was captured by Robert (Dudley's brother).
He captained Royal. His team won by an innings and 67 runs. Further,
Jayawickrema had a match bag of 5 for 55 runs. Royal was captained by
S.S. Jayawickrame and Thomians by Robert Senanayake, Dudley's younger
brother, who was later a fine cricket administrator.
After leaving school, Sargo joined Sinhalese Sports Club. He joined
as an officer attached to the Rubber Control Department in 1931. In
1932, he won cricket colours representing Ceylon cricket team and
against India, scored a brilliant 130. Against Bengal Cricket
Association XI, Sargo scored 132. In ceylon club circuit, his highest
score was 238, against Bloomfield.
Un assuming soft spoken, kind-hearted gentleman S.S. Jayawickreama,
played with the best of best cricketers in the 1940s. His close friend
and associate, Col. F.C. De Saram, considered "Sargo" as a Role model'
to all cricketers.
Col. F.C. De Saram, playing for a county in England in 1930s,
thrashed the mighty Australian Test Team to the tune of 148. BBC
interviewed F.C. De Saram, who hailed from an unknown country to
Englishmen and Australian when he scored a brilliant power-packed 148.
In the interview, Col. F.C. De Saram mentioned "In Ceylon, we have
brilliant batting artists. There is a right hand batsman, a complete
cricketer, by the name of Sargo Jeyewickrema. If he played against this
Australian side, they would have learned some finer points in the art of
I am just an ordinary batsman comparing to my club mate Sargo
Jayawickrema. This was the biggest compliment paid for this great
cricketer. I came from no lesser person than Col. F.C. De Saram, another
cricketing genius. Sargo Jayawickrama in his career scored fifty six
(56) centuries. He possessed a charming, majestic personality. In late
1930s, he had the proud distinction of captaining Ceylon.
Sargo Jayawickrama was a fine human being. He used to wear a "Khaki
Thoppiya", which a thin strap while batting. There were no helmets those
My cricket coach at Nalanda, Gerry Gooneratne, a contemporary of
Sargo Jayawickrema, once told me an interesting strory about Sargo. "Epasinghe,
once Sargo was hit by Indian fast bowler Mohammad Nizar, in India in the
first ball he faced. He fell. He got up. He hammered Nizar for a
towering six and four hits to the ropes in turn over. He was one of the
finest and brilliant fearless batsmen that I have seen. To bat with
Sargo was an education," stated Gerry Gooneratne.
This legendary cricketer Sargo Jayawickrema, captained SSC and
Ceylon. He played against MCC, Australia, India and Pakistan.
For the great services he rendered to cricket, Sargo Jayawickrema was
awarded MBE member of the British Empire, a rare honour for a Sri
Lankan. Although, he played against a future Prime Minister, he remained
a simple, unassuming man. He moved with the highest in the land as well
as ordinary people alike. This great gentleman par excellence Sargo
Jayawickema, was a dutiful husband and a loving father. They had two
lovable daughters. Three of his nephews played cricket. He passed away
on 15th February 1953.