Donald rendered yeoman service for Air Force Cricket
G A Donald Perera has the distinction of being the "Baby of the
Side", for two successive years for Nalanda Collge, Colombo in 1949 and
1950 Big Matches when he played against their sister school Ananda
As a tiny tot like the other boys he commenced playing cricket with
the Soft Ball and following his fathers footsteps he was selected for
the under fourteen Cricket Team under Amarasiri Gunasena when he was
twelve years and in his second year he was the Vice Captain. His Cricket
Coach was former All Ceylon Cricketer Gerry Gooneratne.
His father Walter Gratien Perera played for St Joseph's College,
Colombo for two successive years and he opened batting. When Donald was
in the Under Sixteen team in 1948 he was selected to play for the first
eleven under Lincoln Perera and batted at number three. In the match
against Dharmarajah College, Kandy he faced the terrific bowling of S P
Sithanayake the fastest bowler in schools during this period. Later
Sithanayake joined the Royal Air Force as a Pilot.
Donald was fourteen years and six months when he played for the 19th
Big Match in 1949 and Nalandians beat Anandians by six wickets and this
young lad scored 37 runs. Ananda batted first and made 200 runs and
Nalanda in reply 208 for 8 declared and in their second essay Ananda
were skittled out for a paltry 66 runs where Nalandians achieved with
ease by losing four wickets.
The Nalanda team comprised Lincoln Perera (Capt), Stanley Jayasinghe
(V Capt), A W Dharmadasa, Carl Obeysekera, Valentine Obeysekera, Donald
Perera, W W Silva, Sarath Hewagama, Clarence Peiris, H A S Bastianz, W J
Jayasuriya, W H S Samarasekera and Ashley Silva.
In his second year still in the under sixteen team he was an
automatic choice for the first eleven in 1950 and at the Big Match in
1950 once again he was the "Baby of the Side" and it could be a record
in Sri Lanka Schools cricket history and the captain was Stanley
Jayasinghe but he could not lead the Big Match as he toured Pakistan
with the Ceylon Team and in his absence A W Dharmadasa captained and
Donald got 43 runs.
In his third year in 1951 he played for the Big Match. If he would
have continued he had another three years in 1952, 1953 and 1954 and
would have led the side. Unfortunately his father died and he was
deprived of playing cricket and his father was the sole bread winner of
the family. In the meantime there was a problem of his eye sight and he
had to undergo treatment for a longer period and to keep the wolf out of
the door he decided to seek employment and easily got enlisted to the
then Royal Ceylon Air Force and sent to Diyatalawa for Combat Training
for six months.
Immediately he was selected for the Diyatalawa Base Cricket team and
his captain was a Englishman B S Bridges. They won the inter club Uva
cricket championship by beating Public Services team where Donald got a
brilliant 137 runs.
Coming down to Colombo after a successful training he was selected to
the Air Force (Then Adastrians) team in division three under Harry
Gunathilleke and his team mates were Walter May, Gerry Weerarathne,
Aubry Ebert, Y M Costa, Lerrick Fernando and Tissa Wijewickrema to name
Prior to the LTTE war organized cricket was played in Trincomalee.
Donald captained the Trinco Air Force Team in the Trinco Inter Club
Cricket Tournament where Air Force emerge victorious by beating the
Public Service Team led by Government Agent Major A R Mackheyzer.
Then he was selected for the Combined Services from 1955 to 1958 led
by B R Heyn and in his last year by Dr H I K Fernando.
When Air Force won the division two they were promoted to the Donovan
Andree Trophy and Donald played a key role as the most senior player and
the Writer too was a member of the winning team. Though Air Force was
promoted to Sara Trophy the tournament came to a halt due to unforeseen
reasons. During this year they participated in the Cecil Horon Trophy
and were runners up to Colts Cricket Club.
For the yeoman services rendered to Air Force Cricket he was made the
captain of the Sara Trophy in 1967, 68 Cricket season and thus he became
the first ever Sara Trophy skipper of the Air Force.
The tournament was played on league basis in two groups with Air
Force SSC, Bloomfield, Moratuwa SC, BRC and Dimbulla. The first Sara
match was played at Rifle Green and Air Force beat Bloomfield on first
innings and in the return game too it was the same result. They beat SSC
at their grounds on first innings on both occasions with Donald scoring
a half century and Hemasiri Hettige notched up the first ever century
for the Air Force.
He played division one upto 1971/72 season and stepped down
representing for 19 long years and his last three years he played for
his Unit until his retirement in 1976.
When contacted by the Writer he said 'the present day cricket at
schools are not friendly it is rivalry and it is because merely
competitions. Referring to Air Force Cricket he says that during the
good old days they played for the love of the game and never expected a
red cent but now it is commercialized and with all the privileges now
they are enjoying none cannot be satisfied with the out come.