Royal People

A dedication to those wonderful people who served Royal Primary School & Royal College, in Sri Lanka, since 1835, and, who will be remembered for their committment, sincerety and unselfishness.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Mr Dunstan Taylor

Kusum, Hapu, Mazher Fazleali, & Graham, have reported a Mr Dunstan Taylor who spent a short time at College teaching latin to the Fourth Formers. he is supposed to have been a fellow of the school by the beach in outer Colombo, in his days as a student.

I dont have any recollections of him at all. It is possible he may have spent time at Royal during the second half of 1963 when I was hospitalized for six months after suffering an eye accident at College and suffering a Retinal Detachment.

Any further info on Mr Taylor will be useful for the blog

Fazli Sameer
April 29 2006

An extract from my autobiography, "The way we were..." related to ROYAL is given below, having relevance to the story above.


Moving to College in 1959 was a tremendous change for everyone. Some of the Burgher boys were in the process of migrating to Australia with the Sinhala only policy coming into place.

Some didn’t make it having failed the entrance test. New guys joined us from various other schools. We had a batch of over 200 in the first year at Royal College in 1959 spread out into seven classes classified as Form 1A to Form 1F.

I was in 1E and my class teacher was Mr Justin de Silva, affectionately known as “Abraham Lincoln” for his tremendous love and respect for the former American President whom he used as a role model in every possible way. He even sported a beard and tried to look like old Abe in the best of his own inimitable style.

1A was taken by that wonderfully dynamic teacher Capt. MKJ Cantlay renowned for his activities and contributions with the Scout Troop and the Cadet Corps. I also remember Mr MM Alavi taking one of the classes in Form 1.

My Form 2 class master was Mr Sivalingam, Mr JH de Saram taking Form 3, Ms Samarasekera taking form 4 and then Mr Canegaratne also taking Form 4 as I had to spend another year in the same form in 1963 on account of an eye injury I suffered while playing “Elle” or Rounders (the local version of baseball) and had to spend six difficult months warded at the Colombo Eye Hospital from June to December 1963. The one whose bat hit me on the face was KC Fernando (Dr in OZ now), and it was the last “pitch”of the day before the bell rang to end the lunch interval. I was rushed to the Accident Service in an unconscious state after having been taken to the hostel for immediate attention to the cut above my left eye that subsequently had to have three stitches implanted to close the gaping wound.

Mail received from Palitha Manchanayake in OZ on May 8 2006


I remember Mr. Taylor very well even though he has not taught me. He was there around our 4th Form or so.

A few years back I had a visitor from Sri Lanka and his wife was a former English Teacher in Sri Lanka who was attached to the Ministry of Higher Education. While they were at my place, she said that they have a family to visit in Sydney. When I asked for the address, she said that it is in Carlingford which is the same suburb that I live in. So I took them to that particular address and when we entered the house, I realized that it was that of Mr. Taylor's.

Apparently, Mrs. Taylor was also an English Teacher in Sri Lanka who has worked with this lady. Then we started a chat, and got to know that Mr. Taylor happens to be our Mr. EFC Pereira's nephew.


EMail received from Eardley Lievers on May 11 2006

Just a bit of information. Dunstan Taylor died last year (2005) in Canberra of cancer (oesophagus). Some of you may not know it. Apparently he suffered a lot and towards the end lost his power of speech. His life was a sad one, losing his son and only child in a car accident in the sixties.

I was just browsing through the BLOG and came across a reference to him. Incidentally, the BLOG is very good.

Eardley L

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Kota Silva & the Latin Class

The Great Mung Escape in 1960

From Reza Ashroff (Bawa) - 56 Group now in LA, USA

Reading about the Latin experiences, "non solum sed etiam" not only did i get “kaneyed” but also sacked from the Latin Class. (1960)

Lower V LATIN EXAM, Kota Silva was the master, i sat next to Mung Ataya, now in Paris, and copied word for word from his answer sheet. Mung then realised that 3 rows of yakos were copying what he wrote, as i passed my sheet onto the next guy and so it went down the line.

There was the Rumanian Ambassador's son Rukavina , and also another Ambassador's son, Hans Kinch, in the last row also copying fervently.

Half way through, Mung hit his hand on his forehead, cursing that he had missed out a word and immediately the 3 rows from me downwards were now waiting for him to do the correction and send it across for duplication.

The guy wrote in large letters, CLITORIA, and since this sounded very much like a latin word, all of us included it. Before handing over the answer sheets Mung scratched off the word Clitoria from his paper, without any of us noticing it.

The next day the 3 rows were lined up by Kota Silva, (including Rukavina & Hans Kinch), and thrashed for writing filth. I was chased out of the class for good, for originating the filth and the rest for copying it.

Mung escaped.

Reza Ashroff (aka BAWA), LA, USA Ex College Cop and Hockey Captain RC ’56 Group

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Red, Blue & Green Latin!

From Hapu: Apr 25, 2006

Dear Fellows,

Can you remember the Latin books? Blue,Red and Green! It was a habit to borrow these books from senior students without buying them (to save money of course???).

My brother borrowed the three books from SD Athukorale (Eminent VD Doctor) for me. All three books had this little verse written on the inside cover.


Mr. Lennie de Silva saw this and was laughing his guts out.
More later,


Comments from a good old Thomian, Nazeer Rasheed (in New York), husband of Pauline Ratnayake, Ghandi's (Mr Ratnayake) daughter, on the above:

Apr 25 2006, New York, USA

I had the verse written in all 3 books as well. One day Warden De Saram did not bring his books and asked to borrow mine.

He flipped thru all 3 and all he said was "Nazeer, Bring the Cane" and he wopped me 6 Cuts.

This was in the Upper Fourth (2nd Form).

My arse still hurts at the thought.

Incidently "Phan" Dias was senior to me and i got to know him after I left College and got involved in the Tea Trade. He, among others who were Planters at that time were wonderful guys and great hosts when the occasion arose.



Comment: The Phan Dias comment from Nazeer, above, is in response to the following mail that was sent out to several grand old boys from the fifties/sixties as follows:-

Apr 24 2006

From: David Colin-Thomed

I recently spent a fascinating day with Phan & Cynthia Dias at their home in Kotmale (must be tough waking up to a view with no concrete walls) and I have reproduced below a poem that Phan recited in relation to the planting crew at Houpe Estate in the early 60s, which I think many will find interesting and amusing!

Many thanks to Ian Gardner, one of the crew at the time, for helping me to fine tune its accuracy!

The Houpe Poem
This is our thottam in the sun,
Houpe by name is a famous one,
Houpe boys are really class,
In work and play they are hard to surpass,
Our PD Gamini Salgado,
Is better known as Gal Sadho,
He's ready to help in every way,
And his wife Irene too

Our senior SD, B.I.G.
Is always looking for a D.I.G,
He has just returned from leave,
Something always up his sleeve,
Our second lieutenant Manilal,
Like Daha, he hails from Galle,
He's ever ready to think,
There's nothing in the world like a drink,
Our third lieutenant Balthazar,
Is better known as Vul Satha,
He is always in a whirl,
When he sees something like a girl,
Our junior SD PHAN Dias,
Is better known as Darned Pious,
He is ever ready to flirt,
Even with a lamp post in a skirt,

Note: B.I.G. - Ian Gardner (then Gunewardene)
Manilal – Abeywardene Balthazaar - Wilhelm

David Colin-Thome
Editor, History of Ceylon Tea website


Monday, April 24, 2006

Ven Kahaduwe Chandajothi

A wonderful human being

From Hapu & Fazli

The first Buddhist monk who taught at Royal was the Ven Kahaduwe Chandajothi. He taught Sinhalese Language, Literature, Sanskrit, Pali, and Buddhism and was a very kind and amiable person.

He passed away sometime in the late sixties. His body was brought to the College hall prior to the cremation. Many old boys paid their last respects there.

He was a committed teacher, scholar in Pail, Sanskrit and Buddhist civilization. Most of all he was a very kind and compassionate person.

Once, the assassinated Judge SJW Ambepitiya, asked whether it was a sin to keep two women in one house as wives. "Podi Hamuduruwo" as we called him said, "Oya Lamaya Karala Ballanna, puluwanda kiyala", and, with that he left the class.

Later we mentioned this to VP Bogoda Premaratna who called the whole class to his office and warned all of us severely for asking questions out of the subject.

When he taught us literature from the Ummagga Jathaka many were the boys who asked him so many embarrassing questions related to the “Maapata Angilla” episode of Mahoshada Pandithuma in the text. He took it in great stride and laughed with us and enjoyed the joke too without getting red in the face. I remember him saying "Oya lamayinta meka hara vena deyak hithanna baa, neda?"

His wonderful smile, that always shone about his face, his yellow robes that swished in and out of class, his valiant character that we all respected so very much in the midst of our own youth, perali-ness, and frivolity, is something, that, I am sure, we will always remember, honor and respect?

May he be Blessed and attain Nirvana!

Comments from Prasanna Mendis in Melbourne: Apr 24 2006

Brings back - digs up from the mists of time - mem's of the good monk KC.

I also did Ummagga J... possibly under Mr Munasinghe. [Others had Mr Dissanayake, VW owner; Mr Jinadasa of bush-shirt fame; Mr KC Fernando of oil-cake fame !; ] but cannot recall the yoni tale. Foreplay education at age 14 !

The thing that caused our class much amusement was Kevattaya getting a varchas pida from a bird - crow or selalihini I know not. May well be that our teacher glossed over the yoni bit !

"Pituva harawanna.." etc, who knows?


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Pix from days gone by

RC Cops 1936 (Eddie Gray is seated on the right of the Principal, Mr Sampson who is seated in the center. Vernon Abeysekera is seated next to Eddie)

Mr W T Canegaratnam & the College Debating Team 1968

RH Perera, VIJI, MR Moosa (1962 Group)

Mr Sivalingam (SIVA), third from left

Mr Alles (RITA) in 2000

College life in the Seventies

Mr EC Gunasekera (Kataya) & his wife, Therese

Darrel Lieversz

Nigel de Kretser & Jeremy Perera (left) and Prasanna Mendis (extreme Right)


1969 Team

Reflecting on the last win in the two day game

In 1969 the last win in the two-day Royal-Thomian took place. Hopefully, readers of this article will be able to draw some comparisons with the six games that have ended in a result in the 25 years since the game was lengthened to three days in 1979.

The extra day may not make it any easier to achieve a result, but does nullify the advantages of batting first. Batting first and posting a big total no longer insulates a side from defeat, as Royal found out in 1999. However, a side that dominates the game can expect to win without cutting corners. For instance, because of the extra time to dismiss a side twice, declaring by tea on the first day is no longer an imperative. On the contrary, risk taking too early in the piece can throw the game open without reciprocal returns. A team may declare before the close on the first day only to see its opponents bat all of the second day and build a handy lead. Lacking any chance of winning, it may lack the psychological strength needed to play out time in its second innings and subsequently come under pressure. Caution is therefore understandable, particularly considering that the Royal-Thomian is the first game for the season played over three days and therefore containing many unknowns.

Fifteen Agonising Minutes

At approximately 5.30 p.m. on 8th March 1969 the Thomian no. 11 arrived at the crease. As the last Thomian pair hung on grimly and played down ball after ball, spectators were surprised at the captain’s calm. The fact is that by the law of averages the last pair was unlikely to last half an hour, providing the bowling changes continued to be rung.

Confident that the game was in the bag the captain enjoyed being on the cusp of a historic triumph, which was better than the triumph, itself. It would have been an anti-climax, after striving throughout the game, to capture the last three wickets in quick succession. Royal would have been less deserving of victory if she hadn’t had to work on the last pair.

As it turned out both camps were on the edge of their seats for 15 long minutes. Victory was sweeter for having been delayed until the juncture at which St. Thomas’ had begun to sense a faint glimmer of hope of saving the game.

Not only had the game been a foregone stalemate one hour into the second day, only half an hour earlier at final drinks taken at 5.00 p.m. the game appeared to be heading right down to the wire. At 5.28 p.m. when Paul replaced Yapa at the scoreboard end, a tense finish still seemed likely. None of Royal’s cricketers expected to be left 30 minutes to capture the last wicket. Coming to terms with this unprecedented stroke of fortune left little time for anxiety when the last Thomian pair put up stiff resistance.

The Advantages Of Batting First

Royal were fated to dominate the game because the Thomian captain Kariyawasam had intended sending Royal in, if he won the toss, as he did the following year. In the article titled “Why the toss was more important than the lime” which appeared in the Floreat (Volume 5, No.2, Summer 1998) I elaborated on the advantages of batting first, and will only summarise my arguments here. In the late fifties and sixties not only did the side batting first inevitably have the better of the game, the weaker side could narrow the gap between itself and its opponent by batting first. This is what happened in the 1962 game which Royal were favoured to win because of her formidable pace attack. St. Thomas’ recovered from 86 for 6 wickets to make 197 and have Royal on the boil.

The side that batted first had two sessions in which to bat without the pressure of a declaration. Moreover, the bowling and fielding tended to fall away in the last hour before tea on the first day. Whatever, the state of play at lunch on the first day, providing the batting side survived the first hour after resumption with wickets intact, a competitive first innings total was virtually guaranteed. By contrast, the side having second use of the wicket was always under pressure whatever total they chased. The innings had to be built from scratch the next morning against a fresh attack. Ultimately, the side batting first called the shots by making the final declaration that determined the fate of the game.

Royal’s first innings target of 219 in 1969 had very few fours in it; its momentum based mainly on well-run singles and a late flurry by Yapa (42 n.o.). We would have been hard put to make that score batting second after a tiring stint in the field.

A pre-determined batting outcome

Royal were fated to bat first whichever way the coin turned. Unaware that the Thomian captain was planning to send Royal in, the Royal captain on winning the toss was anxious that his counterpart would deliberately misinterpret the result of the toss and order his openers to don pads. However his reading of the Thomian-Peterite game which preceded the Royal-Thomian was different to that of his Thomian counterpart.

The Thomian bowling, although failing to make an impact for most of the season, appeared to have finally developed good economy and penetration. St. Peter’s batted first and totalled 75 and 150, with only time standing between STC and the 57 runs required for victory. By contrast, St. Peters totalled 256 and 155 - 4 against Royal who narrowly averted the follow on. To the Royal captain this only underlined the need to bat first. In addition to the historical record of better outcomes from batting first and the need to bowl to Jayasekera with runs on the board, it seemed that the STC attack had bite and therefore a deadly proportion when confronted after a stint in the field. To the STC captain however, his team’s showing against St. Peter’s created a precedent to be followed in next game.

However, just as much as losing the toss did not inevitably lead to defeat, batting first did not necessarily guarantee a win, without a willingness to take risks. Derrick de Saram set about instilling this attitude in Royal’s cricketers when he took over as coach in 1967-8. Many hold that Royal’s march to victory in the big match commenced with her magnanimous defeat at the hands of Wesley. No one celebrated the outcome of this game more than Colonel de Saram who believed that a courageous defeat was the moral equivalent of a win.

A Stalemate Averted

Although Royal were never in danger of defeat in 1969, the prospect of dismissing St. Thomas’ twice appeared very remote at the end of the first day. After losing their third wicket for 47 St. Thomas’ recovered thanks to a classy 33 by Kariyawasam who made a mockery of Royal’s aggressive field settings. The success of crowding batsmen hinged on the latter perceiving a crisis and responding to it by either excessive caution or reckless aggression, both of which played into the hands of the fielding side. However, Kariyawasam played a controlled and masterly innings and called Royal’s bluff. After retrieving one of Kariyawasam’s many outfield probes the Royal captain despaired at Royal’s failure to consolidate her batting efforts and the early inroads made into the Thomian batting. He couldn’t but help remember that at the same time the previous year Royal held the whip hand in a game which ended in a draw. What were Royal’s chances of beating their opponents if she couldn’t dismiss Kariyawasam once leave alone twice?

Although, we were lucky to dismiss Kariyawasam before close, the manner of his batting, the apparent lack of penetration in Royal’s bowling, and the mere 33 runs that stood between St. Thomas’ and following on, made a draw the most likely outcome. This view was reinforced an hour into the second day when the score stood at about 130 for 5 wickets. The Thomian batsmen at the crease weren’t in any difficulty and at this stage Royal had captured only two wickets in the last two hours of the Thomian innings, which now seemed set to extend beyond lunch and end in a declaration.

Quite suddenly and unexpectedly, the Thomian innings folded 32 minutes before lunch giving Royal a lead of 72 runs. This surprising turn of events owed as much as to a sense of complacency that overcame the Thomian camp, which resulted in two run outs, as to the long Thomian tail. At the close of the first day’s play in 1968, the Thomians were staring down the barrel of a follow on. Consequently, they defended doggedly the next morning and lost a single wicket in averting the follow on. In 1969, having averted the follow on for the loss of 5 wickets they never envisaged the scenario that was to unfold. If they had, they would surely have strived to extend their innings to lunch and limit Royal’s options. By virtue of declaring, at whatever score, St. Thomas’ would have denied Royal the confidence boosting achievement of dismissing her.

Cricket At It’s Finest

Royal now had to score runs fast and not lose many wickets. St. Thomas’ had to contain Royal by capturing wickets and attempt to delay Royal’s inevitable declaration. Royal’s quality batting line up was up against an economical Thomian attack, which made for the finest 90 minutes of the match.

Situations such as this highlight one of the major differences between the two and three day game. When the game is played over three days, the dominant side is rarely impelled to accelerate the momentum of the game in order to improve its chances of winning. However in 1969, the pressure was on Royal to make a game of it. The tension was palpable as Royal sought to put pressure on her opponents without losing the initiative. Cheeky singles and stout defence were matched by quick bowling changes, and tight and desperate fielding. The heightened alertness on the part of batsmen, fielders and bowlers, and the precise mathematical projections being made by Royal’s captain and coach - reflected the urgency and sense of purpose that attended the efforts of both teams. The crowd, which had come alive at the possibility of an eventful afternoon, was caught up by the unfolding drama as much as the players. Deathly silence rapidly alternated with roars of enthusiastic approval, unlike the more dispersed crowd reaction, which accompanies a game in either gestation or in a stalemate.

Royal set St. Thomas’ 188 runs to achieve in 161 minutes, which some felt was generous and fraught with risk. However, Royal’s intention was to give herself sufficient time to bowl her opponents out and I’m certain that this knowledge worked on the Thomian psyche. The Thomians would have much preferred a more difficult target that would have allowed them to play out time if the situation deteriorated.

There were other factors that worked in Royal’s favour. The target set was more than what St. Thomas’ had made in her first innings. And Royal enjoyed the psychological advantage of making a declaration from a position of strength after losing only four wickets and scoring at over a run per minute. Most importantly, if St. Thomas’ went for the target and lost wickets, it would have been difficult for her to play out of time. A team’s chances of losing a game increases in proportion to the time it is given to make the runs. Unlike a token declaration in which a team is given less than a session to bat and therefore only it has a chance of winning, a competitive declaration favours equally the side setting the target as much as the side chasing the target. P.N.W. Gunasekera, who led St. Thomas’ to victory in 1964, read the flow of the game astutely and tempered the Thomian skipper’s premature optimism with the words “Be careful, you could lose this one” (as revealed by the Thomian skipper in a 1993 article).

Royal In The Box Seat

In the second Thomian innings Royal’s captain had a dream run with many of his moves turning to gold. Unknown to all, Jayasekera, the man most feared by Royal, was burdened by the realisation that his team’s hopes of winning or saving the game rested on his shoulders. Hence, the last thing he wanted was for short extra cover to be brought up to a silly mid-off, soon after he almost played on. After his sensational departure in the first over, and the shock waves that it generated, it was a question of putting pressure on the Thomian batting without worrying about the number of runs conceded. (The only reason St. Thomas’ reached 100 was because we had the field up and we did little to plug boundary hits.) From then onwards everything flowed our way as if all of the bad luck enjoyed by Royal in previous Royal-Thomians was being compensated for in one fell swoop.

The psychological underpinnings of a game of cricket are often not immediately evident to players, let alone the spectators. About 12 years following the game, Jayasekera inquired how his discomfort with being crowded came to be known? The Royal captain confessed that his boldness was intended to control his own nervousness and that the silly mid-off would have been removed at the slightest hint of aggression. He expected little from the move except to instil a sense of purpose in his players and send a message to the Thomians that Royal meant business. J. Thalayasingam later confided that he was so scared of the prospect of being belted around that he decided to forgo the customary warm up deliveries and get Jayasekera before Jayasekera got him. Jayasekera also revealed that just before he walked out to bat his master-in-charge desperately and tearfully pleaded with stay until tea at all costs, which did precious little for his morale. Clearly, St. Thomas’ needed Jayasekera to preserve his wicket, not only to enhance her chances of winning, but to also insure her against defeat.

What a difference ten minutes makes in games such as this. If Royal had declared at 2.59 p.m. rather than at 2.49 p.m., St. Thomas’ would have been set around 200 in 150 minutes. The message we would have conveyed was one of excessive caution based on apprehension. Consequently, St. Thomas’ would not have felt the same pressure going into bat. What we did say to them was along the lines of – “Our generosity is indicative of the control we have over the game and our psychological domination over you”. Many things, including bringing extra cover up in the first over, and the self-doubt that affected Jayasekera, flowed over from the timing of the declaration and the attitude embodied in it.

Playing As A Team

Observers remarked that Royal’s win owed much to teamwork. However, teamwork is easier to achieve on the field than when batting. Royal’s team spirit was forged in its struggle to make runs in the first innings. Although we had a strong batting line up, none of our leading batsman could consolidate good starts, and we had to rely on the individual contributions of every batsman. They also had had to develop an understanding around which quick singles, which kept the total ticking, could be generated. Because nothing came easy from the start, we were forced to maximise our opportunities and lean on each other.

Hence, no batsman scored over 50. Neither did any bowler take over 3 wickets in an innings. Here again, in order to apply maximum pressure on the Thomian batting, it was necessary to rotate the bowling rapidly. If any bowler took four or more wickets in an innings, through lengthy spells, it would have been to Royal’s detriment.

Teamwork was expressed not in contributions measured quantitatively, but in the timing of each contribution, however modest on paper. Jagath Fernando is a case in point. Although he went on to make a scintillating century in the 1971 Royal Thomian, the 18 and 12 he made in the match were more telling contributions. In the first innings, his second wicket partnership of 30 with Jayaweera following the loss of the first wicket for one run, blunted the Thomian attack at crucial moments. The purposeful 12 that he made before lunch on the second day established the tempo required to make quick runs. Likewise, Jayaweera’s modest contributions of 28 and 25 at first drop, took the score to 69 and 71 in the first and second innings respectively, staving off a possible collapse in one innings and establishing the foundations for a competitive declaration in the second. (Jayaweera scored a sparkling forty-nine in his debut Royal-Thomian, and played many a grand innings in three more Royal-Thomians, but none as vital as his two twenties in 1969.)

S. Thalayasingam dismissed for nought by Wijeratne in the first innings, mastered his nemesis by top scoring in Royal’s second innings, denying St. Thomas’ the breakthrough they were desperate for, and although not renown for his running between the wickets, maintaining the pressure on the Thomians with well-judged singles. Thanks mainly to him and sterling hands from five other batsmen, Royal could declare from a position of strength, and her captain enjoyed the luxury of perfecting his calculations from the pavilion, and having wide latitude in the options available to him.

There were other instances of players who came up with contributions appropriate to the situation. Samarasekera’s combative 40 under pressure, Caldera’s brisk 21 in Royal’s second innings that ended in a selfless run out, J. Thalayasingam’s immaculate delivery in only the third ball of the Thomian second innings, Paul’s leg-spinners that twice broke the back of the Thomian bottom order, Jayaweera’s effective use of the loose delivery at crucial moments, Yapa’s timely effort that pushed the total past the 200 mark, and the captain’s determined 49, come to mind. The self-effacing manner in which each Royalist made a difference by rising above himself, found perfect embodiment in Hettiaratchy who inconspicuously equalled a match record by not conceding a bye in the match.

Although not obvious to many, the best example of Royal’s team spirit occurred mid way in the pre-lunch session on the second day. Royal’s captain had run out of ideas and in desperation had introduced a non-regular bowler into the attack. Aggressive field settings had given way to a policy of containment. The game was turned around by spirited wicket keeping which included a run out from a wild throw, and the ability of each player to dig deep at a time when minds tend to wander. The team held, not due to guidance from the top, but through each individual thinking collectively.

It is hard to determine a turning point in the game because of the collective effort. Each performance was intertwined with those that preceded and followed it, with the minor heroics paving the way for the achievements that brought the crowd to its feet. However, the crucial partnership was not the 46 runs between Lieversz and Yapa in the first innings, which took the score to 200, and virtually insured Royal from defeat. These runs were scored against a tired fielding side. However, the 53 run second wicket partnership between Thalayasingam and Jayaweera in Royal’s second innings, was made against a fresh bowling attack, which threw everything into in the fray in the knowledge that the perilous position St. Thomas’ was in could only be retrieved by the quick capture of wickets. Their discipline and skill sealed the fate of the Thomians who were unable to stem the flow of runs. As a result, the game slipped inexorably away from St. Thomas’ while the only danger Royal faced was that of unnecessarily prolonging her innings.

The Supremely Magical Moment

If a Royal hero had to picked, my vote goes to Samarage, who scored 1 run and took 2 wickets in the match, but took one of the great catches which no one present will ever forget. Heading towards the 5 p.m. drink break, the fifth wicket pair of de Saram and Wijesooriya were defending doggedly and had steadied the ship somewhat. But thanks to Samarage, St. Thomas’ had lost five wickets when the break was taken, we had regained the initiative, our spirits had lifted, and the Thomians had begun to despair as their best efforts came undone.

Until the dismissal of de Saram, we faced the prospect of having to capture six Thomian wickets in the remaining hour, with the Thomians buoyed by the fact that, following a poor start, they had recovered to lose only 4 wickets in 100 minutes of play. They had only to continue in this vein until about 5.15 p.m. to save the game and notch up a moral victory for their school. Frustration and errors on our part would have paralleled their growing confidence. Time was running out. We either captured a wicket now or possibly enjoyed no more meaningful success. Royal’s captain, in anticipation of a disappointing draw, had begun to fatalistically rationalise the outcome by reasoning to himself that he had done all that was required, and that was satisfaction in itself.

In the previous overs Samarage had fetched deliberate loose balls that had been summarily despatched to the boundary. Nobody would have blamed him if he had chosen this time to save the four rather than make a catch off a half chance by diving forward and wresting the ball literally inches from the ground. However, somewhere in the deepest recesses of his mind he had worked out that the game was slipping away from his team and that this chance had to be grabbed if Royal were to win the game. Royal now sensed that such a miraculous catch couldn’t be associated with a drawn game. The adage “Catches win matches” found perfect expression in Samarage’s inspired effort. (His catch made Royal’s fielding appear better than it actually was - the rest of us held on to what came straight to us.)

It is commonly believed that Colonel de Saram, Royal’s coach, schemed in his son Dijen’s dismissal. If this is so, the captain was none the wiser. In truth, the liberal use of full tosses was an impromptu response to the exigencies of the situation. They were intended to break the batsman’s concentration and make him more susceptible to conventional deliveries. The fact that from 4.55 to 5.14 p.m., when St. Thomas’ was fighting for her dear life and de Saram was back in the pavilion, she still scored at over a run per minute (pushing the total from 56 to 86), is testimony enough to the extent to which feeding the Thomians with loose deliveries (mainly waist high full tosses) was ingrained in our strategy and not directed at a specific batsman. Significantly, in 1968 Dijen de Saram played a major defensive role in enabling St. Thomas’ to avert the follow on without his alleged weakness ever being tested with full tosses.

Unlike the victorious Thomian team of 1964, the Royal team of 1969 hadn’t prepared a dossier on the strengths and weaknesses of its opponents. It was too pre-occupied with getting its act together following an indifferent season. The captain in particular was wrestling with numerous demons. He was struggling to be a player worthy of his place in the side, and a captain worthy of his school and team. Above all, his mind was pre-occupied with surmounting opposition to his plan to take into the Royal-Thomian, a team which he was comfortable with.

The last time the coaches and the captain met to discuss issues was nine days prior to the Royal-Thomian, in a meeting that was dominated by the choice of wicket-keeper. There wasn’t even a pre-big match pep talk, which was indicative of the lack of communication between captain and coaches. Captain, coach and master-in-charge conferred with regard to the final line-up without deliberating on a game plan.

A Battle Of Wits

Although Royal’s bowling wasn’t as tight as that of her opponents, it had greater variety and guile. One example will suffice.

After losing two early wickets in her second innings St. Thomas’ stemmed the slide until tea. Having stabilised his team’s batting, the Thomian captain was poised once again to break up our aggressive field placings. In a couple of overs Kariyawasam would have put the game irrevocably out of our reach and returned the game to a stalemate. Royal plays her last card by bringing extra cover up and inviting Kariyawasam to hit over the top. It was hoped that in attempting to do so he would either be bowled, stumped or get an outside edge. Instead, Jayaweera, sensing the batsman’s intentions, holds the ball back and the batsman pops the ball to close mid-off. Everyone’s disbelief turns to prayer in the knowledge such an injudicious stroke will never be repeated. Samarasekera holds on to the catch and a no ball hasn’t been called. With Kariyawasam went St. Thomas’ last chance of breaking up Royal’s aggressive field settings and reducing the pressure she was under.

Last Rites

St. Thomas’ were 23 for 2 wickets at tea. At this juncture she lacked the psychological prop of an achievable target to chase, and, with eight wickets in hand, lacked the incentive to strategically and purposefully play out time. This soon changed.
In 19 minutes of play after tea St. Thomas’ slumped to 32 for 4 wickets. Another 36 minutes that seemed like eternity went by before Royal enjoyed her next success with the total at 56. By 5.14 p.m. St. Thomas’ were down to her last three wickets with 86 runs on the board.

At about 5.44 p.m. the last ball of Jayaweera’s over was fielded by Yapa who commenced the over that was to end a momentous 15 days for Royal that commenced at Campbell Park, when Wesley made us hunt leather on the first day and place us in danger of following on. The following day we lost in a manner that brought us no discredit for we came from behind to determine the game’s outcome.

Between losing to Wesley and beating Trinity, a controversy raged over the selection of the wicket keeper. However the Principal shook the captain’s hand on the morning of the match and posed the following question, which good humouredly alluded to their differences of exactly a week ago – “Just as much as you fiddled with the selection could you also fiddle with the match and give Royal a win?” No fiddler’s bow could capture the sweetness of the moment that lay three balls ahead.

Royal made the most of her breaks

Given the relative strengths of batting to bowling, the game was destined to be a low scoring one, with the side batting first being in control. However, whether or not the game was stalemated or ended in a tight finish, depended on whether risks were taken and how they were managed. Ultimately, the side desperate to win prevailed over a side which perceived danger too late.

Royal was the stronger team overall with batting down to no. 11. Although Royal’s bowling had more variety, STC had a tighter attack which would have made a difference if STC had batted first. The discrepancy in strength wasn’t reflected in the state of play until the completion of two innings. With a 72 run advantage Royal proceeded to bring their strengths to bear and widen the gap considerably. STC, who until then had kept Royal at bay, began to disintegrate and lose morale.

One feature of the Thomian innings after tea on the second day was the fall of a vital wicket just when it seemed that Royal was about to lose her grip on the game. Kariyawasam, Wijesooriya and de Saram, three batsmen who appeared set for long stays, fell unexpectedly, the first two to shots that were totally out of character. This is indicative of the thin margin between a Royal victory and a draw. It also highlights the degree of subtle pressure exerted by the bowlers in order to force the Thomian batsmen into errors and the alertness of fielders to the possibility of the unexpected.

Royal received most of the breaks and exploited them with ruthlessness and guile, as indicated by the manner in which St. Thomas’ most stubborn batsmen were outwitted. However, in view of the sense of purpose that characterised St. Thomas’ play on the first day, there is little doubt that she would have just have effectively tightened the screws on Royal if given the opportunity.
The game took its inexorable course

Max Ehrmann stated in Desiderata that "For whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should". In cricket, as in life, events take their course not necessarily as one hopes or plans for. Sometimes this happens for the best, in a way never envisaged by either team. St. Thomas’ planned to send us in, dismiss us cheaply, notch up a large total and then rout us a second time. Even if things worked according to plan (and my argument at the start of this article was they wouldn’t have), there may not have been time enough to bat a second time and notch up the runs required to win, as was the case in St. Thomas’ game against St. Peter’s the previous week. Fortunately for the Thomian captain Royal won the toss because he would have been considered to have dug his own grave by sending Royal in for the same result.

After batting first, Royal’s pinned her hopes on enforcing the follow on, although a lead of 100 or more runs would have been insufficient to force an innings win. There would have been too few runs to play with and this would have imposed constraints on tactics such as crowding the Thomian batsmen and teasing them out with loose deliveries, a luxury available to a team with an unassailable lead. Paramount in Royal’s mind would have been the number of runs she may have had to score in her second innings.

Fortunately for Royal, St. Thomas’ averted the follow on but collapsed soon after and handed Royal an useful lead. Hence, Royal’s bowlers rested while her batsmen applied pressure on the Thomians before the latter batted a second time. Most importantly, Royal could afford to be extravagant with her field placings and deliveries in the Thomian second innings because her tactics were not dictated by a need to avoid batting at the end of the Thomian innings or to reduce a possible fourth innings target to a minimum. Further, although not evident at the time, by averting the follow on, St. Thomas’ were lulled into a false sense of security with disastrous consequences. St. Thomas’ also had to wear the shock of confronting danger after feeling secure (by averting the follow on). In retrospect, a lead of 72 and the tactics that it triggered, favoured Royal’s interests more than a lead of 100 or more and the option of enforcing the follow on, would have.

Saluting The Vanquished

It is true to say that history is written by the winners. As a result, the Thomian captain has been unfairly maligned. Statistically, Royal fared better. We won by 86 runs and only lost 12 wickets. Yet, Kariyawasam played the best knock of the game, Wijesooriya’s scores of 38 and 30 for the match were not only elegant and commanding but crafted under pressure, and Wijeratne was potentially the most dangerous bowler in either team. Under slightly different circumstances, their performances could have made a difference. The statistics belie the fact that for seven hours Royal struggled to take the initiative and hold on to it.

During Royal’s first innings Kariyawasam handled his bowling and set his fields in exemplary fashion and as a result, runs were very hard to come by. However, from the moment Royal went into lunch on the first day with six wickets intact and batting down to number eleven, St. Thomas’ faced an uphill struggle, her position undermined by the number of breaks that went against her, particularly in relation to at least three L.B.W dismissals (two of which involved her batsmen). There is a limit to what any captain can achieve if the circumstances conspire against him.

Unsung Hero

Full credit to the Thomians for fighting all the way in a display of legendary Thomian grit, and forcing us to evoke all our ingenuity and resources. And let us sing the praises of Royal’s captain of the previous year, Ranjith Gunasekera, who reversed the pattern of Thomian domination in the sixties and left us with the blueprint for victory.

Eardley Lieversz

[The above article first appeared in the FLOREAT, Summer 2000/2001, Volume 8, Issue 2, and the Royal College Cricket Souvenir of 2001. The article has since been amended.]

Royal College Cricket XI 1962

Standing, left to right: S. Mendis, V. Gowrishankaran, J.D. Wilson, R.C. D. de Silva, T.R. Jansen, S. Rajaratnam, V.P. Malalasekere and S.D. Jayaratne

Seated, left to right: S.S. Kumar, M. Rodrigo (Coach), D.W.L. Lieversz (Cpt.), D.K.G. de Silva (Principal), S. Thiagarajah (V.Cpt.), E.C. Gunasekera (Master-in-Charge) and P. Withane

Of the persons in the above picture, Darrell Lieversz, Jansen, Wilson, Gowrishankaran and Withane are in Australia. Wilson is a teacher, while Gowrishankaran and Withane are accountants. Jayaratne and Thiagarajah are in America, the former an academic and the latter a doctor. R.C. de Silva is a successful businessmen and entrepreneur, and the current president of the Nondescript Sports Club. His business involvements are more diverse and buoyant than his overarm deliveries ever were.

Malalasekere and Mendis are in Sri Lanka. The former is the director of Ceylon Tobacco’s legal division, while the latter is the Chairman of Hayleys. Rajaratnam recently returned to Sri Lanka after working overseas as an engineer.

Mahes Rodrigo celebrated his 70th birthday in 1998 and these days plays with a very straight bat after surviving a close appeal. S.S. Kumar was not so fortune, being shot dead by a gunman in 1998 whilst playing golf. Dudley de Silva passed away in the seventies while E.C. Gunasekera succumbed to cancer on 10 June 1994.

Darrell Lieversz turns out for his old school in the annual Royal-Thomian match played at Melbourne. These days he is better known for his paintings than his late in-swingers. He mows the lawn, washes three cars, rides go-carts, watches his grandson grow, dabbles in genealogical software and fields frequent questions from the writer, in his spare time.

Darrell frequently ponders what might have been if E.C. Gunasekera hadn’t changed the batting order in Royal’s second innings, without him knowing, which saw Jansen go ahead of Rajaratnam, thereby insuring Royal against loss but depriving her of any chance of victory. E.C. Gunasekera (EC) resigned as master-in-charge mid-way through the 1967 season.

In the mid-sixties, R.N. Mudalige, under XVI captain of 1962, out of contention after crashing the GCE ‘O’ level barrier, held forth at the entrance to Royal College that led pass the cycle sheds, expounding his theory that Royal would never win the “big match” as long as EC was in charge. This was as much an attempt to find a scapegoat for Royal’s lack of success, as much a reflection of the mixed feelings school going Royalists had for him. However, although the writer most certainly would not have obtained cricket colours if EC hadn’t abdicated, like every other old boy, on leaving school he came to admire, and identify with, the very characteristics of EC that he once despised. Even those old boys who were at the receiving end of his martinetism felt a deep sense of personal loss at his passing.

A Childhood Romance

Reflections on Royal Cricket and the Royal/Thomian
by Eardley Lieversz
2 Jordon Close, Mt. Colah, NSW 2079, Australia, e-mail:

This article is inspired by the article by my former captain Ranjith Gunasekera titled “Demi-Gods and Little Boys”, that appeared in the 1995 Royal souvenir, and Sarath Samarasinghe’s 1998 article. Ranjith hit the nail on the head by remarking that the quasi-mystical status of the Royal-Thomian had dissipated by the time of our own playing days. Sarath was obviously one of those demi-Gods and his description of his contemporaries brought back poignant memories and triggered a bout of nostalgia.

Rampant Heroes & Alter Egos

The Royal-Thomians of 1955 and 1956 are a blur, and all I recall are the outlines of batsmen, distinguished only by their caps, returning to the pavilion at the Oval tennis court end. The names Jothilingam, Nirmalingam and Perimpanayagam were imprinted in my mind by my father, and I saw them as the equivalent of the three Ws of the West Indies, gallantly taking the fight to the enemy. Later I discovered that Jothilingam scored a century in the 1956 big-match while Perimpanayagam scored three consecutive centuries in the same season.

The first innings I remember was Michael Wille’s 121 in 1957, which I observed from under the sight screen at the tennis court end, keeping company with a Thomian friend who, lacking a ticket, had to be sneaked in by my father. I distinctly remember Wille’s habit of strolling to leg between deliveries, not unlike Ted Dexter. Although I was never able to establish the truth of it, I am still moved by my father’s remark that, before scoring his century, Wille slept on his late father’s bed.

However, for the most part, only the names and their glorious associations matter. Sarath Samarasinghe seemed to play forever, and after a while, his whimsical persona, reflected in his crouched stance, and the cartoonist’s caricature of his cheeky guardianship of the space behind the stumps, came to embody the quintessential characteristics of my Royal heroes – chirpy, humorous, competitive, courageous and affable.

Lorenz Pereira was another player I came to identify with, thanks to the media (souvenirs) which portrayed him as larger than life. I admired him from the dead horizontal tree trunk that used to lie at the entrance to Royal primary, as he walked past after practice with a Gun & Moore bat in his hand. This was about the closest I came to my idols.

I always made excuses for Royal, as I later did for Australia. If my heroes didn’t come up to scratch it was always because of poor luck, not because St. Thomas’ (or England) played better. After all, Royal’s cricketers had far more exotic names, the hallmark of champs. We outgunned St. Thomas’ in multi-syllabic surnames. More importantly, they came in pairs, namely, Samarasinghe and Senanayake. And no name had the etymological intrigue of Kodituwakku. Perairawar held fascination on account of its exotic aura and the difficulties in pronunciation, while N.J.S. de Mel lingered because it seemed so stately and dignified in comparison.

From 1958 to 1960, the composition of the team hardly changed and, in addition to the names mentioned above, the names Sahabandu, Samerajeewa and Vidanage conjured up images of spells weaved from the mists of Aryan antiquity. That one of them had the very English personal name of Dooland, only added to the intrigue. And the name “Minah” Wijesinghe had acquired near mythical status after his four wickets in 4 balls at Campbell Place, the only event I vividly recall apart from Wille’s century.

With few notable exceptions, the names had more relevance than faces. For instance, whenever I impersonated Royal cricketers in softball games or while throwing the ball against a wall, I did not have a visual template to guide me. I had a better idea of what test cricketers looked like (thanks to the Times of Ceylon sports pages) and played like (thanks to the plethora of literature, match descriptions and coaching manuals). ). However, this only served to enhance the mystique of Royal cricketers, the mere mention of whose names conjured up rich images untarnished by any empirical yardstick.

The Royal-Thomian of the fifties was quite predictable. St. Thomas’ would bat first, post a large score and Royal would spend a good part of the second day averting the follow on, which she inevitably did. Although one didn’t fear a Royal loss, losing the toss was frustrating because it meant that victory was out of the question. (My peers and I feared the Thomians less than older Royal students who were constantly on the prowl for opportunities to “flick” rosettes, flags, rattles and other spoils from unsuspecting juniors.) However, despite my anxieties and disappointments, no festival in the world could compete with the sensuousness of the Royal-Thomian, as exemplified by the sparkling caps our heroes wore, their exotic names, the flags we waved, the pulsating Portuguese derived rhythms we pranced to, and my Aunt Tim’s corned beef sandwiches. A victory for Royal would have been a bonus.

Truly, the lead up to the Royal-Thomian was at times more interesting than the game itself. The endless speculation as to who would fill the last spot, the cycle parades, the crawl to Wanathamulla, the awesome sight of figures scaling the radio towers (a feat performed by me in 1970) and the gradual emergence of the players from the shadow of the pavilion to have a hit, created a wonderful ambience. It was all part of the riveting ritual and rich pageant.

During the fifties my fierce loyalty to Royal was sustained by the constant teasing I received from Mahes Rodrigo. Whenever I accompanied my father to the CR&FC clubhouse, Mahes never failed to needle me by making derogatory remarks about Royal. “What man, Royal parippu, no?” was his favourite taunt, to which my inevitable response was one of predictable outrage. I wished Royal could beat St. Thomas’ just to teach him a lesson. I hadn’t the faintest idea at the time that he was a Royal stalwart. (He was to coach Royal in that memorable 1962 season.)

In 1960, my first year in Royal College, we won the toss for the first time in memory and controlled the game thanks to a good double by Lalith Senanayake. This was in stark contrast to our perilous position of 1959, 5 ducks, and a near funeral, if E.L. Pereira hadn’t come to the rescue. Watching Ferdinands bowl to the diminutive Kodituwakku in 1959 made me feel distinctively vulnerable. I asked myself why we got the best Burgher bats, but not the Burgher fast men, who, like Ferdinands, played for St. Thomas’?

In 1961, after a poor start we ended the game with a flourish. By throwing caution to the winds, S.S. Kumar and S.D. Jayaratne effected a profound psychological shift. Although falling short of 64 runs of our target, their whirlwind unbeaten third wicket partnership of 70 runs made us feel that we had resources in reserve that none of us were aware of, and completely erased the ignominy of our first innings total of 67. On the way out, Professor E.O.E. Pereira rued our missed opportunity and speculated on what might have been.

King Cricket

Despite the uneventful nature of the Royal-Thomian, the period 1956-1961 was full of romance and fond childhood memories. Elvis came into my world and I constantly withdrew into an imagined world of American culture. On the cricket field, Richie Benaud’s Australians defeated England by 4-0 nil in 1958-9 and in new recruit O’Neill I had a cricketing idol who increased my emotional involvement with Anglo-Australian cricket. In January 1961, almost the whole school was glued to the radio following the progress of the West Indians in Australia, who had captured our imagination and hearts. Although, I failed to make the Boake House under XIV team, it didn’t matter. Boake won anyway, the West Indians and Australians touched down long enough to saturate my mind with rich and evocative images of cricket’s unique aesthetic, and Benaud’s Australians had a great series highlighted by that amazing win at Manchester, when all seemed lost.

Cricket was truly king at Royal. An indication of the grip the game had on our psyche is that preliminary trials to pick any one of four under XIV teams, attracted well over 100 hopefuls. As for me, it was cricket, lovely cricket. And the 1962 Royal season continued the magic.

Bowling Blitzkrieg

Of all the Royal cricket seasons I have been involved in as a player or spectator, nothing comes close to 1962. For one, my cousin Darrell was captain, which lifted my status amongst my peers. My uncle would convey information to my father who then passed it on to me. I could pretend that I had privy to the captain’s thoughts. Above all, Darrell was in devastating form, and along with his partner, R.C. de Silva, struck fear into all our opponents. How did we feel? Like Germans at the beginning of WWII. How did the Thomians feel? Like England in 1939, alone and expecting a German invasion any moment. Victory in the Royal Thomian was not a forlorn hope; it was a real possibility. We had our best chance in years.

The circle had come round full circle. In three years, we, not St. Thomas’ had the fast bowlers. Darrell was as muscular as Ferdinands was, and far more menacing. We were going to give the Thomians a hiding. The vulnerability I felt in 1959 was behind me.

The lethality of our attack first became evident in the second innings of the Ananda game when our opponents, set a simple target, collapsed in a heap. The following week, St. Benedicts were 6-11 at one stage in their first innings. Yet, we all wondered when the bubble would burst? Surely, this couldn’t last? I personally felt that our good run would come to a crashing halt against St. Peters, particular since their captain had reached triple figures in the preceding week. Royal’s modest first innings total was little cause for optimism. No one, least of all Royal, were ready for the batting holocaust that followed. St. Peters collapsed to be 8-12, a score rare even in junior cricket.

Richard Heyn, the Peterite captain, almost played on before a few balls later his bails took flight not unlike the flutter of doves outside the book depository when Oswald fired three shots at JFK. His dig in the second innings was no less brief and humiliating. St. Peters were routed and an aura of invincibility surrounded the cricket team, which rubbed off on the entire school.

From a personal point of view, Darrell, the good Burgher had prevailed over Richard Heyn, the enemy Burgher. Richard had arrived whistling, supremely confident. He left with his tail between his legs. Imagine my disappointment, when the headlines following the Wesley game, read, “Darrell the hero, and the Darrell who failed”. On the Campbell Park mat, Darrell Maye of Wesley had come good and Royal had met her Stalingrad. My moral order was disturbed. I wanted to believe that good Burghers, like my cousin, had God on their side. I felt much worse when Keith La’Brooy, an enemy Burgher, rather than Darrell, was ascendant in the 1962 Royal-Thomian. (La’Brooy captured 9 wickets to Darrell’s 8 and had Royal in a spin in her first innings.)

Reflected Glory

One had to be a 12 year old attending Royal to understand why I am so elegiac and nostalgic about the 1962 season. Of course, it helped that my cousin was captain and in such deadly form. Just as much as my father took credit for his nephew’s achievements (being constantly corrected by friends on this issue) I too took vicarious credit for the achievements of my namesake. (If Royal had truimphed at the Oval there is no doubt that I would have walked with my head held up high.) I also accompanied Darrell on visits to doctors and cricketing experts. Although he barely tolerated me, I was close to the centre of power and thrived on it. More importantly, Royal have rarely produced such a deadly pace duo working in tandem.
Going into the Royal-Thomian Darrell and RC had taken 56 and 42 wickets respectively. Many of these were bowled
or LBW, which was very exciting to spectators who either exclaimed, bowled or appealed in unison at such events. Wickets fell at such regular intervals that the success rate of the incantation “Come on Darrell or RC, bowl him out!” was very high.

Whereas RC had a classic fast bowler’s action, using a high trajectory to make the ball lift, Darrell made the ball zip off the wicket. Whereas RC was hostile, Darrell was clinically efficient, varnishing the top of the stumps sufficient to send the bails flying. If RC was mortar fire, Darrell was a cruise missile honing on the target with unerring accuracy. There was always an air of anticipation whenever either of them took the ball.

The camaraderie of the team was palpable, although the team consisted of a fascinating bunch of individuals, whose styles contrasted markedly. The diminutive Jayaratne, who excelled in the back foot cover drive and leg-side stumpings off the pacemen, carried on from where S.C. Samarasinghe left off. And who couldn’t help but be intrigued by RC’s elaborate ritual when taking guard and Gowrishankaran’s St. Vitus dance, popping up and down outside the popping crease, as he awaited each delivery?

I was in awe of my heroes, and followed them all over. When the souvenirs came out I cycled to the homes of some (Jayaratne at Campbell Terrace and Thiyagarajah at Horton Place). Although I could have got their autographs through Darrell, I was keen to obtain personal audiences with them, exploiting my relationship to the captain. My romance with Royal cricket had reached its pinnacle. It was a wonderful time to be a cricket lover and a Royalist.

The End of Certainty

From about 1956 to 1962, the Royal-Thomian held its greatest fascination and romance for me. My loss of faith commenced when Royal, despite its awesome bowling firepower, still conceded 197 on the first day of 1962 Royal-Thomian. (I was not alone in entertaining visions of the Thomians collapsing for under 50. Royal’s campaign, that was widely expected to “Dunkirk” the Thomians, had turned into her Khe Sanh.) Clearly, the Thomians were not the pushovers I assumed them to be. (Analysing why a side so certain of victory was held to a draw, the importance of the toss was driven home to me. We had to bat first if we had any hope of winning the two-day game.)

In the months following, amidst post mortems, I was overcome by disillusionment and fatalism. If Royal couldn’t win with Darrell, we would be hard put to do so any other time.

From 1962 onwards, in the wake of a Thomian resurgence, and my entry into teenhood from adolescence, my idols began to lose their shine. 1963 was a watershed for me. I left a government bungalow at C84 Gregory’s Avenue and softball cricket played barefoot on soft sand, and a house with enough garden and wall space in which to play cricket alone, forever. The Beatles dethroned Elvis (my hero since 1956) and I gained my first exposure to the bitterness of defeat when Boake lost her preliminary under XIV house cricket game under my captaincy.

The first XI cricket seasons immediately following 1962 were an anti-climax for me. Never again would Royal go into the Royal-Thomian with the capacity to rout our opponents with time to spare. Never again would the Thomians arrive for the big match intent purely on survival. Alas, Royal cricket seasons would never hold the same magic and grandeur for me. Only two years after we had an attack that gave our opponents sleepless nights, we were mourning a big match defeat at the Royal Fair held at the former racecourse. (The euphoria of the following year was derived not from victory but from narrowly escaping defeat.) In addition, I was too close to the action, under the critical gaze of others, experiencing the ups and downs (mostly downs) associated with striving for representative honours, for Royal cricket to retain its earlier mystique.

To my mind, 1962 represented Royal’s best chance for a big match victory. In the same year, Colts missed winning the Sara trophy by a mere fraction of a point; coming so close because of Darrell’s bowling genius. It seemed to me that the two Sri Lankan cricket teams I identified with most had allowed once in lifetime opportunities to slip through. Australia was also losing her dominance over England, which she didn’t regain until 1974. Yes, 1962-3 was a watershed in my life as a cricket follower. It was a simple case of innocence lost. The old certainties were fading and my Gods (musical as well as cricketing) were becoming increasingly human.

[Article first appeared in the Royal College Cricket Souvenir of 1999 and subsequently in the Autumn 1999 (vol 6, no. 3) issue of Floreat.]

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Upali Attanayake & Komisama

Received from Hapu on Apr 20 2006

Dear Rosanna & Seal,

I normally go to bed early, and get up early. See all mails. Ha!! What a nice way to start the day. News of all friends, local and foreign. Here is another of Great Guru Upali Attanayaka.

When they were at the Teachers Training College - Maharagama., a Dramsoc was formed to improve the English and Sinhala of the future would be teachers. Mostly English classics of Shakespeare were the popular ones. At one premier, Upali Atte was Brutus, who stabbed Caesar from behind. The time came when Senna stabbed from the front front, with the dagger still intact, Caesar turned to say "Et Tu Brute" (And you too, Brutus) but there was no dagger on Brutus’ hand to complete the stab from the back. The audience realized the miss, catcalls and hooting started as usual, finally the missing dagger had to be thrown across to complete US part. Anyway they were hooted out the stage.

First college bell went. Have to go to Rupatees class.

Received from hapu on April 18 2006
Q Soda, Sela & Nangi
Dear Sela,

What a small world we are in. It looks like old Greenland's days and more importantly, Royal days are coming back. Ha! Ha!! Ha!!!.

The greatest will be the day we meet in Aust. in the near future. That might take about an year, if everything goes well.

We were the luckiest lot of old boys to have a bit of both ends in College. Komisama crowd has dispersed so vividly, it looks difficult to have a 40th anniversary. DSDJ is Prof of Sociology Uni. SL. Walla de Silva lost for the count. Jayamanna the bard is OK. Gompa is in some remote island in the pacific, (Share some stories of Gompa from Prasanna).

We meet often thanks to Kota Livera (Greenland's). Bloody great to have news of you and thelot. Sunil Andradi in PNG. He and some other chaps organized Komisam At Panadura Balika soon after the great victory at School Drama Comp.

We had another small playlet to go with Komisama. There was a scene where four friends having a drink of alcohol. D Gunda, got us real arrack from Panadura tavern at my request. Some arrack spilled on the table while drinking. The sweet smell extended to the further corner of the hall. Later the principal PBV, queried from the organizers, who vehemently denied any involvement in the real stuff. After the playlet, I forgot some lines in the KOMISAMA but managed to box on with a substitute line. DSDJ said no more arrack in any of my plays.

Great Guru Upali Attanayaka was the first to violate that DSDJ condition with the help of a chap called Hapuarachchi.

Bye Machang

Received from Sela Amarasekera on April 18 2006
Dear Hapu

so nice to be taken by surprise to a place of fond memories - yes i do remember the old tamarind tree - the safe haven which gave us protection from more things than the mere midday sun in the unfamiliar place called form 1b RC - and the "GYM" where only the brave would venture to. i've been a pretty bad old royalist - hardly kept in touch with old class mates with Prasanna and Sunil Andradi (another Panadurite) being the exception and occasionally bumping into Bandula Dissanayake - and of course tubby - being part of familly..

That is not to say i have forgotten the rest - i do have fond memories of many - of you in your many incarnations at royal - not least you in the play 'komisama idiriye sakki dunno' - in a classic performance providing evidence via 'nurthiya' dance form - is something i simply can not forget and YK making an entrance pushing a bike is hard to beat for a start up scene.

Have you'll ever though of having a 40th anniversary performance - by the same cast - that would be hilarious. Happy to hear from you.sela - with no more hairs. my home email is

- but best to use the office address

Friday, April 14, 2006


A Grand Old Gram Lady, remembered

by Eardley Lieversz

When we joined College in 1959 there used to be an old Tamil lady, referred to as Achchi, clad in a dark green white sari, seated under the porch of the East Wing Lobby in the junior school, selling gram and other fried titbits that the boys used to enjoy during break times.

She was dark in complexion, rather heavy on the physical side, not very tall, had rings on her nose and ears, and was a very talkative and vibrant person.

Some of the chaps used to steal gram from her when her nose was turned the other way and many are the stories of teachers finding out and reprimanding them for their misdeeds on this poor old lady who was simply making a living by selling her gram.

It is reported that Kadalay of gram fame too was a member of Achchi's family or community and that both lived in the same town and it is possible that Kadalay actually came into Royal through Achchi's contact.

When Kadalay was allowed to sell his gram within the school premises, also in the East Wing lobby area, the two of them used to be seen chatting most times, whiling away their time until the bell for the breaks rang out bringing the customers in.

Many of the boys who joined Royal prior to 1960 must surely remember good ole Achchi and must have many wonderful tales to tell about her.

Achchi passed away in 1960.

After her, it was Kadalay who was the kingpin of the vendors at Royal.

Received from Hapu by email on April 13, 2006
Dear Chaps,

Sinhala New Year holiday period has just started. We are closed till 18th. It's driving me crazy. Children have left the nest. Only the two of us are at home. Could have gone somewhere to spend the holidays, but all those places are filled to capacity. I hate when there are too many. Life has to go on.

Achchi died by 1960/61. First Kadaley was her assistant. But the man soon started on his own. He was always there to help her.

Quarter Soda (QS), used to steal small packets of bola kadalay from her. At the 10.20 interval they both come to the WW lobby to sell. Kadaley sold under the arches while Achchi was seated on the left corner, inside. Kadaley always had an eye on Achchi. I can remember one day as QS closed in on her, Kadaley shouted Kallan! Kallan!! (hora! hora!!). Achchi soon got up with a broken broom stick. QS was hiding behind a pillar shouting, "Achchiee Pochchi", making gyrations at her. Pol Tokka Samararatna, who was waliking to the staff room saw this and took QS by the ear. Just then the bell rang. QS returned to class after a good canning from Cow POX Abeysinghe (Head Master). More when time permits


Saturday, April 08, 2006

Madam: The first lady

Mrs.Samarasekera & Peon Jayasinghe

From Hapu: Apr 4 2006
1962 - 4th Form. English class. Under the Greenwood Tree was being explained to us in detail. Boring as it was, many were nodding. Madam's desk was on a platform. Peon Jayasinghe brings in a 'notice', gives it to Madam for reading.

In the meantime the OLD CAD, holding onto Madam's desk stretches himself to peep through Madam's deep cut neck line.

Sharp old lady she was, glances sideways, stops reading, "Jayasinghe Eliyata Yanna (Go out).

Later Jayasinghe tells us "Hari Aadambara gani ne? (Very proud woman, no

April 4 2006

The Lab Boys

Chemistry, Physics, Botany & Zoo

5 Apr 2006
From Palitha Manchanayake

Dabare was looking after of the Chemistry labs (Ground floor) near theswimming pool. . Danny & Sirisena (Dark guy in National costume) werelooking after the labs on the first floor.

Mr.Thenabandu was the LabAssistant to whom we had to pay, when we happen to break a beaker or afunnel etc.

Incidently, Mr. Arulanandan was in charge of the Chemistry Labs, and he had his small room just next to them near the staircase. We were very scaredwhen we happened to pass that room as he would very often ask us to keepquiet if we talking loudly. Mr. Arul used to drink his tea in a chemistrybeaker which was very funny. But we were scared to laugh, and we pretendedas if we did not notice the beaker.

Deen and Sirisena were the Lab boys of the Senior Physics labs near theWest wing lobby.

Martin was the lab boy of the Botany Lab (Third Floor) andArumugam was the Lab Boy of the Zoology lab (Third Floor). Mr Mennon was theZoo Master who came from Kerala.

Mr.Thillainadarasar (Wesley Hall lookalike) was our Maths Master for A. Levels. He was a character who was muchloved by the students.Just some memories.


Palitha Manchanayake

The Mentors

They took us from Books to Men and taught us how to Play the Game

Principals 1835 – date

Hill Street Academy (Private School Academy) Headmasters
Jan 1835 Rev. J.H.Marsh (Snr) M.A (Edin) - Dec 1835

Colombo Academy - Headmaster incharge
Jan 1836 Rev. J.H.Marsh - Dec 1838
Jan 1839 J Brooke H.Bailey (Actg.) – Jun 1839
Apr 1840 J Brooke H.Bailey (Actg.) – Dec 1841
Jan 1842 J Brooke H.Bailey (Actg.) Rev. A. Kessen – Sep 1842

Colombo Academy - Principals
Jul 1839 Rev. J.F.Haslam B.A (Cantab) Mar 1840
Oct 1842 Rev. Dr.Barcroft Boake B.A (Dublin), T.C.D, D.D (Dublin) - 1859

Colombo Academy & Queens College
1859 Rev. Dr. Barcroft B.A (Dublin), T.C.D, D.D (Dublin) – Sep 1869

Colombo Academy
Oct 1869 Dr. Barcroft Boake B.A (Dublin), T.C.D, D.D(Dublin) – Sep 1870
Feb 1871 George Todd B.A (Oxon) I.S.O – Apr 1878
Dec 1878 J.B.Cull M.A (Oxon) – Jul 1881

Royal College
Aug 1881 J.B.Cull M.A (Oxon) – Jan 1890
Oct 1890 J.H. Marsh (Jnr.) M.A (Edin) – Mar 1892
May 1892 J.H.Harward M.A (Oxon) – Aug 1902
Jan 1903 C.Hartly M.A (Cantab) – Mar 1919
Aug 1920 H.L.Reed M.A (Cantab) – Mar 1932
Mar 1932 L.H.W.Sampson B.A (Oxon) FRGS – Mar 1938
Nov 1939 E.L.Bradby M.A (Oxon) – Dec 1945
Jan 1946 J.C.A.Corea M.A (Lond) Dip. In Ed: (Psychology) (Cantab) - Dec 1953
Apr 1954 D.K.G. de Silva (Lond) Dip in Ed: (Cey) - Oct 1966
Jan 1967 B.G.Premaratne B.A (Lond) M.A (NY Teachers Training College) - Jan 1971
Feb 1971 D.G.Welikala B.Sc (London) - Jan 1972
Feb 1972 D.J.N.Seneviratne M.A (Colombia) B.Sc (Lond) F.G.TRD Cert. (Cey) (History) - Jul 1972
Aug 1972 L.D.H.Peris B.Sc (Lond) Dip in Ed: (Cey) - Dec 1980
Jan 1981 C.T.M.Fernando B.A (Lond) Cert. In Ed: (Cey) Cert. in Ed: Adm. (Edin) - Dec 1980
1986 B. Suriyaarachchi - 1994
1994 S.H.Kumarasinghe - 1997
1997 H L B Gomes – 2003
2003 Upali Gunasekera


Oct 1923 L.H.W. Sampson B.A.( Oxon ) F.R.G.S. - Mar 1932
Mar 1932 H.J. Wijesinghe – Mar 1938
Sep 1943 J.C.A. Corea M.A.( Lond ) – Dec 1945
Jan 1946 M.M. Kulasekaram B.Sc., ( Lond ) – Jun 1954
Jul 1954 C. Samarasinghe B.Sc., ( Lond ) – Dec 1956
Jan 1959 B.G. Premaratne B.A. ( Lond ), M.A. Ed – Sep 1966
1967 S.E. Dias B.Sc., ( Lond ) - 1970
Jan 1971 W. Jinadasa ( Dy ) Dec 1971
Jan 1972 E.C. Gunasekera B.Sc., ( Lond ) 1977
1978 E.C. Gunasekera ( Vice-Principal ) Dec 1984
V. Weerasinghe ( Dy. Middle School )
Miss W. Ekanayake ( Dy. Lower School )
Prasanna Upashantha Muhandiram
Head Masters 1835 - date
Rev. J.H. Marsh (Snr) 1835 - 1838
J. Brooke H. Bailey (acting) 1839 - 1842
Rev. A. Kessen 1842
C P de S Abeysinghe [Lower School]
E C Gunasekera [Upper School]

Teachers at RPS 1953-58

Mr A. F. de Saa Bandaranaike, Head Master (Banda) [deceased]
1C - Mrs E.B. Croning [English Medium]
2C - Ms Dorothy Perera [English Medium]
3C - Ms Dissanayake (Ms Nanayakkara) [English Medium]
4C - Mr V. Pingamage (Pinka) [English Medium]
5C - Mr A.B.C. David (Apple Beetroot Carrot) [English Medium]
6C - Mr J.E. de Silva (Jadi) [English Medium]
Mr H. D. Sugathapala, succeeded AF de Saa Bandaranaike as Head Master in 1958 (Sugar) [Sinhala Medium]
Mr H. P. Jayawardena (Jaya) [Sinala Medium]
Mr M.P. Piyasena (Vathey) [Sinhala Medium]
Ms Nicholas (Knickerless, Music Teacher) [All]

Teachers at RC 1959-66

Mr ABEYSINGHA S. (Cowpox) [deceased]
Mr ALAVI, M.M. [deceased]
Mr ALLES, R.I.T (Rita)
Mr BELLETH, C.E. (Bella) [deceased]
Capt. (later Brevet Lt-Col. & JP) CANTLAY, M.K.J (Canto) [deceased]
Mr de BRUIN, Elmo St. E (deceased)
Mr de SARAM, John Henry
Mr de SILVA, Dudley K.G. (Principal) [deceased]
Mr de Silva, G.W.D. (Kota Silva)
Mr de SILVA, E. Justin D. (Abraham Lincoln) (deceased)
Mr DIAS ABEYGOONEWARDENA (Kos Dias) (deceased)
Mr GUNASEKARA, E.C. (Kataya) (deceased)
Mr MENON (Pope)
Mr PERERA, S.A.A. (Saapey)
Mr PERERA, S.H. (EsEtch)
Mr PREMARATNE, Bogoda (Vakutu)
Mr RAJARATNAM, R. (Conner) [deceased]
Mr RATNAYAKE C.V.A. (Ghandi) [deceased]
Mr RUPASINGHE, R. (Rupperty) [deceased]
Mr SABARATNAM, K. V. (Half Soda)
Mr. SETHUKAVALER (MudGuard) (deceased)
Mr SHARMA, V.K (Am-I-Right-There)
Mr SILVA (Kota Silva)
Mr THAMBAPILLAI (Thamba) (deceased)

Note: All nicknames mentioned (in brackets) and used, during our school era, were never meant to be insulting or derogatory in any way, whatsoever. The affection and fraternity that prevailed between students and staff a Royal, even with the 100 lines and the many cracks on our backsides, is something we will always be fond and proud of for all times

Library Staff
Mr. Tennekoon
Mr. K.K.D.M Wijesundara
Miss. W.R. Perera
Mrs. K.D.S Wijesundarara

Other Support Staff Members & Service Providers RPS & RC 1953-1966

ACHCHI (Gram Lady - vendor outside RPS the gate) deceased
ARUMUGAM (Lab Boy, RC Zology Lab, 3rd Floor)
BELLA (Balloon Man - vendor outside the gate)
DABARE (Lab Boy, RC Chemistry Lab, Ground Floor West Wing)
DANNY (Lab Boy, RC 1st Floor)
DEEN (Lab Boy, RC Sr Physics Lab, West Wing Lobby)
KADALAY (Gram Man - vendor outside RPS the gate) deceased
MARTIN (Lab Boy, RC Botany Lab, 3rd Floor)
NOOR (Groundsman, RC) deceased
Mr SARANAPALA - Tuckshop Owners [deceased]

Mrs SARANAPALA - Tuckshop owners
SIRISENA (Lab Boy, RC Sr Physics Lab, West Wing Lobby)
THENABANDU (Lab Assistant, RC)

Notable Old Boys

Anagarika Dharmapala
Dr CA Hewavitharana
Sir Ponnambalam Arunachalam
Sir Ponnambalam Ramanathan
N.S. Joseph
Dr Colvin R de Silva
Pieter Keuneman
President J.R. Jayawardene
Gnr Kenneth R. Porritt
Prof Osmund Jayaratne
Sir Razik Fareed
President Junius Richard Jayawardena
D W L Lieversz
Vernon Corea
Anil Moonesinghe
Mangala Moonesinghe
Susil Moonesinghe
Neelan Thiruchelvam
Lalith Athulathmudali
Major General B.R. Heyn
Dinesh Gunawardena
Ramlal Goonewardene
Ranil Wickremasinghe
Judge Christopher Gregory Weeramantry
Omar Kamil
Ken Balendra
F C de Saram
Judge Sarath Ambepitiya
Charitha Ratwatte
Lakshman Kiriella