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Mahinda Pethiyagoda - a match referee attached to SLC

CRICKET: Mahinda Pethiyagoda - one of the finest pace bowlers produced by Dharmaraja College, Kandy has been appointed as match referee for division one cricket matches by Sri Lanka Cricket for his performances and dedication to the game of cricket. He is the first old Rajan to be appointed as match referee.

Speaking to the Sunday Observer, Mahinda, said that during his playing days for the school, the facilities for playing cricket were few unlike in recent times. The present-day cricketer gets plenty of opportunities to play the game at the highest level unlike in the past and had some of the cricketers of the past got the same facilities, they would have done wonders.

The present lot of cricketers must make best use of the facilities available to them both here and abroad whenever they get the opportunity and with plenty of sponsorship deals available, cricket will benefit a great deal.

Mahinda Pethiyagoda came to be known as a pace bowler at Dharmaraja College. Before him, there was S. B. Situnayake, Sonny Yatawara, T. B. Kehelgamuwa, S. U. Mendis, Ananda Jayasundera and N. K. B. Angammana.

Mahinda made his mark in the very first year that he played for the school - that's 1971 when he took 60 wickets in inter-school cricket and repeated his performance in 1973. He played for Dharmaraja from 1971 to 1973. His best figures in a match were 12 wickets for 89 runs against Anada in 1971 and a match-bag of 10 wickets for 76 runs against Maliyadeva College, Kurunegala in 1973.

4 for 39 vs Aussie schoolboys

His exploits in cricket was not confined to inter-school matches only. In 1972, he was picked to represent Kandy District Schools against the Australian Schoolboys captained by Graeme Yallop and in that match, Pethiyagoda took 4 for 39 and that included the wicket of Australian Schoolboys skipper Yallop. The Kandy District Schools Team was captained by Jayantha Monnekulame.

In the following year - 1973, Pethiyagoda captained the Central Province Schools Cricket Team against Indian Railways. He also had the privilege of representing Sri Lanka Schools in the same year under Josephine Gary Melder against Tamil Nadu in Colombo.

He also played for the Cricket Board President's XI against the visiting Indian cricket team led by Ajit Wadekar in 1974. The Board President's XI was led by Ranjit Fernando and Pathiyagoda opened bowling with another Rajan T. B. Kehelgamuwa and had the prize 'scalp' of Ajit Wadekar. Since leaving school, he continued his cricket and played division one cricket in 1974 and 1975 under Mahes Gunatilleke and then played for Bloomfield under Bandula Warnapura in 1976. He then went on to captain Kandy Cricket Club in 1984 in the division one cricket tournament. His best bowling figures in division one cricket - 7 for 50 against Sabastianites and 5 for 10 against Police when representing Kandy C.C. In addition to division one cricket, he has also played regularly in Mercantile 'A' division cricket from 1975 onwards.

Pethiyagoda's interest in Cricket grew from around the age of 11 years when in one match against Trinity under 12, he took 6 for 14 and that opened up a new chapter for him in pace bowling.

Cricket was not the only sport that fancied Mahinda. When he was at Dharmaraja College, he was also in the school soccer and rugby football teams from 1971 to 1973.

Leaving school, he joined the Mercantile Sector and was a Junior Executive at Arpico and later became a Manager attached to Ceylon Tobacco Company Limited.

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