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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 College.

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.


Donald Perera

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 a few.

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.

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