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.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Daya Sahabandu

Life & times in Sports

Daya Sahabandu - Sri Lanka's number one left arm leg-spinner- one of the best in Asia

by Premasara Epasinghe

Tom Graveney, super batting star of England played in '79 Test matches, and in 123 innings, collected 4882 runs, with a personal best of 258, and an average of 44.38. In his illustrious career, Graveney scored 11 centuries and 20 half a centuries. He held 80 (eighty) catches, sent 260 deliveries, conceding 167 runs, he has taken 1 for 34.

Daya Sahabandu

This English batsman made a comment on a Sri Lankan left arm bowler and paid a glowing tribute to him. Tom Graveney stated.

"Your left arm bowler Daya Sahabandu, is easily the best I have faced in my 20 years of big cricket. I am positive, he should be able to find a place in any county side in England. No bowler could have bowled so well as he did on that plumb placid wicket", stated England's Tom Graveney, after scoring a century against Sri Lanka in Colombo.

It was undoubtedly, the highest compliment paid to a Sri Lankan bowler, by a world class batsman.

Third Asian, First Sri Lankan to pass 1000 wickets

Daya Sahabandu, became the first Sri Lankan and only the third Asian in cricket's history to surpass the four figure mark (1000) wickets in Sara Trophy Cricket. The other two are India's Bishen Singh Bedi and Pakistan's Intikab Alam.

You must not forget the fact, that both of them played in English county, cricket whereas, tall, lanky, unassuming, soft-spoken, Daya Sahabandu, did not get the opportunity to play county cricket in England.

Turning the score boards Daya Sahabandu's Division one club cricket record is unbelievable and fantastic. In 19 1/2 season, 253 matches he bowled 6,552.1 overs. Out of this, 1919 were maidens. My calculator showed 14,787 runs capturing 1048 wickets - Average 14.11. Brilliant Achievement!

Great Moments

There are two greatest cricketing moments in his life. Number one, was when he was selected to represent Sri Lanka in 1969, against MCC. The second was with grit and determination, he batted as a tail ender for 4 1/2 hours in an unofficial Test against India at Lal Bahadur Stadium Hyderabad in December 1975.

Great Teacher Viji Weerasinghe guided me Born on 28th March 1940, in Colombo, he joined Royal College Primary in 1945 and joined Royal College in 1951. J. C. A. Corea and Dudley De Silva were the principals. His first form teacher at Royal was Viji Weerasinghe.

Fatherly figure Weerasinghe, has guided many Royalists for more than five decades. The name Royal and Viji Weerasinghe, are inseparable. He is a great teacher. "I am indebted to Viji Weerasinghe", stated Daya Sahabandu.

Daya's beloved father S. W. Sahabandu was attached to education office, Western Province as an education officer and his mother Amitha Mendis Gunasekera was a housewife. His elder brother S. S. Sahabandu, is a President's Counsel. He started playing cricket with his elder brother Sasita, who is elder to him by four years. Therefore, he has to bowl at him most of the time. The venue was the background of their house at Charlemont Road, Wellawatta.

Edward was his first cricket coach at R. P. S. Later, he was coached by late B. St. E. De Bruin. He saw Daya Sahabandu's talents and made him a left-arm dual purpose bowler for Royal. He played for Royal for three years - 1958, 1959 and 1960. Daya Sahabandu won the Royal College bowling prize in 1958 and 1959.

After leaving school, he started his professional career as a play-ground Instructor from 1963-1977.

Rajamahendran - a genuine great promoter of cricket

On 1st July 1977, he joined Maharaja Organisation and still he is serving this prestigious company. He is ever grateful to the great promoter of cricket, R. Rajah Mahendran, Chairman Managing Director of Maharaja Organisation for all the assistance and guidance he has given him.

Mr. Mahendran, Very silently helped late Gamini Dissanayake "Yuga Purusha of Sri Lanka" cricket, to achieve Test status to Sri Lanka in England. In 1963, he started his club cricket career and played for Nomads under D. H. De Silva. In 1967, Sri Lanka and Leicestershire Professional Stanley Jayasinghe joined Nomads.

"It was Stanley, who really made me a left arm spinner. In 1969, I played my first unofficial Test against England, captained by Colin Cowdrey. I am grateful to Stanley Jayasinghe and D. H. De Silva for guiding me in my career", said Daya Sahabandu.

Daya Sahabandu was the undisputed king of left-hand spinners in Sri Lanka cricket team from 1969 to 1975.

Who is a left-hand bowler

In two fundamentals, left-hand bowlers differ from right. Their "Natural" swerve is into the right-handed batsman, their "Natural" break is away from him: the former is, on the whole, a handicap, the latter a great asset.

The principles of the Basic Action are Mutatis-Mulandis (Latin with appropriate changes) exactly the same for them as for the right-handers: So is the technique of spin and flight. But, whereas the right-hand bowler will normally bowl over the wicket.

By far the most common, and in cricket history the outstanding, type of left-hand bowler is the orthodox slow bowler who relies on spin and flight. The great advantage of this type of spinner is that he bowls, without a great deal of effort, probably the most difficult ball in cricket - the one that comes in with the arm and then leaves the unfortunate batsman after it has pitched.

Daya's outstanding contemporaries

As outstanding captains he mentioned the names of D. H. De Silva, Dhanasiri Weerasinghe, and Michael Tissera.

He picks T. B. Kehelgamuwa as the best fast bowler. In spin department, it was Ajith De Silva. Of the off-spinners, he says that Abu Fuard as number one. For leg-spin D. S. De Silva and wicket keepers Dr. H. I. K. Fernando, Russel Hamer, Ranjit Fernando and Mahes Gunatileke.

Believe it or not

Although, Daya Sahabandu was a bowler, his most memorable and unforgettable incident came from his bat. Believe it or not." He batted for four and half hours (4 1/2) and made 32 not out at Hydarabad when Sri Lanka played India in 1975.

"In the second innings, Sri Lanka were five wickets down for 195. I had a seventh wicket stand of 75 runs with Tony Opatha (64). I faced the best spinners in the world circuit. Bhagavat Chandrasekhar, Bishen Singh Bedi and Erappali Prasanna, in this match and we defied all of them, stated Daya Sahabandu.

Few Tips for Bowlers

What is the advice that you will give to the up and coming spinners?

Master the stock ball, properly, before variations are attempted. Study the wicket and decide the trajectory of delivery which is going to be your stock ball. This is very vital to become a successful bowler. Do not be afraid to flight the ball. Even if you give 10 or 15 runs, do not get upset. Batsman will make a mistake and you will be the ultimate winner," said Daya Sahabandu.

The flight has to be cultivated by long hours at the nets. It is then, that you will get confidence to flight in matches. Flight is more essential on hard wicket.

He tied the nuptial knot in 1983. His wife's name is Swarna Kulasekera. They have a son - Janaka, who just left Royal after passing the Advance Level Examination. He is now following a course in Information Technology.

Present Day Cricketers are luckier

During our conversation he told me, that they played as amateurs and for the love of the game.

"Today, with so much money at stake, there is a great desire to win. The standard of cricket has improved mainly due to professionalism creeping in. The competition is high. Because of more one day game, fielding standards have improved. Another factor is that the present day cricketers are luckier than us, in that they have more opportunities, more foreign exposure to improve their skills. I am happy that our cricketers are doing well", stated Daya Sahabandu.

Daily News 2004


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