Battle of the Maroons

Ananda vs Nalanda

Nalanda Past cricketers pay tribute to their coaches

A Galaxy of stars at the SSC

By Varuna Ratnaweera | 08th March 2011

Last Saturday and Sunday ( 5th and 6th March) saw a galaxy of cricketing greats gathering at the SSC, not only those who were on the turf for the 82nd Battle of the Maroons, but those from all walks of life that were there to witness this fascinating cricket fiesta.

And a prelude to this great gathering took place on Wednesday - 2nd March - evening at the SSC pavilion when the Past Cricketers’ Association of Nalanda College (NPCA), felicitated their former coaches and masters in charge who in their prime days had been the mentors behind the great cricketers that Nalanda had produced.

It was a memorable evening especially to those who have been close to the game of cricket, as the NPCA presented attractive mementos to five of their coaches and masters in charge, the Mendis brothers M/s Lionel and Nelson, Mr Cecil Gamage, Mr Trevor Nugegoda and Mr Gemunu Gunewardena while Mr Premasara Epasinghe who was away from the country was felicitated in absentia.

After Upul Gamage, the former Nalanda captain, read out citations on each of them, the five Nalanda masters of yesteryear were gracious to speak out their hearts that brought back many precious memories to those who were fortunate to be present on this occasion.

Talk about discipline, the spirit of the game, honesty , integrity and the moral characters that cricket develops in an individual, the respect you develop for your opponent, the “strategist” that it moulds in you – these were the gentlemen that nurtured all these great qualities in those young cricketers in their prime time at Nalanda.

And those who learned the basics of this noble game from these great gentlemen of yore, the night was one to remember for a long time.

It was a fitting tribute to 6 illustrious personnel who had been the mentors to as many as 16 young lads who later went onto represent Sri Lanka at the highest level in the cricketing arena – probably a record that no other school can boast of.

And what better times to remember and honour them than with a few days to go for the big match with Ananda, which has been an occasion that many past cricketers from Nalanda had used to showcase the multitude of good qualities these masters had instilled in them.

Gracing the occasion was another illustrious personality and a former Vice Captain of the Nalanda Cricket team and now Hon. Member of Parliament - Mr Thilanga Sumathipala.

The event brought back memories of a similar function last year when Mahela Jayawardena the present Sri Lankan Vice Captain was honoured and recognised by the NPCA as one of the top 10 all time great Test Cricket captains of the world – a fact that a lot of us Sri Lankans do not know about. And the sentiments echoed at the SSC on Wednesday evening did not leave any doubt in the minds of those present that Mahela will be a shining star in the world cricket arena way beyond this world cup.

My humble thanks to the team of Nalanda Past Cricket Association led by Asaba Gunasekera and ably supported by Madawa Samarasinghe, Gihan Weerasinghe, Nihal Pathirage, Ananda Silva and Upul Gamage for a memorable evening that gave us the chance to mingle, in one forum, with these “stars” that nurtured “ a galaxy of young stars” during their time.

I am truly revered masters. Thank you NPCA.