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DateLine Sunday, 19 August 2007

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Developing a boy's cricket talent is important - Fairlie Dalpathado

CRICKET: A man who brought fame to his school side in the famous Combined Schools Cricket match way back in 1943, the Singhalese Sports Club in 1944 and went on to play his debut for Ceylon from 1949-5 and simultaneously represented Ceylon in the first Asian Tennis Championship, is veteran sportsman Fairlie George Dalpathado.


Fairlie Dalpathado - a great Josephian cricketer.

Speaking of the game of cricket as played today, Fairlie stressed the fact that cricket was a gentleman's game and it should be played like gentlemen. Today, we seem to have lost that touch. Sledging all the time while playing the game is bad, he said, condemning the act. Selections are also very important. We should have selectors who know the game, who are fair minded and select the best team possible and look after the outstanding people like Muralitharan.

Today there are too many coaches in schools in my opinion. Going by the book and infusing style is useless but developing a boys talent is compulsory. No one plays a 'late cut' today, not a single Sri Lankan cricketer he explained in a rather disappointed tone.

The game is quite different from the cricket played in the days of old where the game was played in absolute silence with an occasional appeal rather softly. Fairlie Dalpathado, in his tenor has done his best and now it is time to sit back and take a closer look at the rest.

Now 82, it was a pleasure to talk to Fairlie Dalpathado, a name that brought fame when for the first time in the annals of Ceylon Schools Cricket, a Combined Schools team led by Vernon Prins of S. Thomas' which included eight captains and nine centurions was set to play a school side where Farlie led the unbeaten Josephian side.

The historic encounter was the last of its kind where the veteran not only contributed 59 runs but also bundled out Combined Schools for 35 and bagged six wickets for 17 runs, compelling the organizers to refuse to permit the Josephians to enforce a follow on as The Governor of Ceylon at the time, Sir Jeffery Layton was the chief guest and they feared that the match would be over before he arrived.

Lifting high the Josephian morale, Farlie moved on to play for Singhalese Sports Club (SSC) and played his debut for Ceylon in 1949 under Derrick de Saram against the West Indians led by John Goddard. His next appearance was apparently in 1950 under Malcolm Spittle against England led by Freddie Brown and he toured Pakistan with the Ceylon team under Sargo Jayawickrema he recalled.

Dalpathado played as a pace bowler adding to the many feats of sportsmanship as a Ceylon cricketer cum Ceylon tennis player; an unprecedented combination of immense talent and stature of yet another like C. I. Gunasekara, two exceptional geriatrics who live to tell their success stories on the field in their heydays.

Having been able to speak to Dalpathado I was thrilled. Thrilled to be able to write about a veteran cricketer hailing from my school cricketing favourites, St. Joseph's College.

A diehard fan of St Joseph's, I was elated to interview this ex-Josephian cricketing hero who not only played the game but also coached his school team to produce four champion sides and five best captains, Rohan Weerakkody, Ashley de Silva, Nirmalal Perera, Jeevaka Candappa and Jonathan Alles during his tenor of twenty years, from way back in 1949 for a year till the school recruited a coach and thereafter from 1965-73 for eight years and once again from 1975-88.

Five best captains

Highlighting the facts with pride, Farlie refreshed my mind too of the good old days and the five best captains St Joseph's had produced, Rohan Weerakkody, I recalled my school days and the Big match fever of the Battle of the Saints which was a much awaited encounter for us Familians throughout our heydays.

No sooner Fairlie Dalpathado began citing the names of the five renowned Josephian captains of that era I was in the know of all five as I had never missed a single 'Big Match' since the age of twelve and still continue to go for it. This surprised Dalpathado, as we continued trailing his great feats.

Encouraged by his father who coached him in cricket and tennis, Farlie traced his beginnings when he secured employment at the Tea Control Department and retired at Tea Small Holdings as Assistant Manager, Married to an Indian lady, Therese Abraham whom he had met while on his tennis tourneys to India, Farlie Dalpathado has one son and two daughters and none of them have apparently taken to any sport, he says.

 

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