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Sunday, 8 February 2009

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Wicketkeepers are not born, but one must make oneself a `keeper' - H.I.K.

Cricket: Brigadier Dr. H.I.K. (Herbert) Fernando, former Sri Lanka, St. Peter's College University of Colombo, NCC and Sri Lanka Army cricketer who turned 76 years on January 4, was undoubtedly was one of the best wicketkeepers that Sri Lanka produced. He was of exceptional quality.


Dr. H.I.K. Fernando - a wicket keeper of exceptional quality.

`H.I.K.' was a leading figure on the Sri Lanka cricket scene from 1952 to 1971. He had the proud distinction of being one of the best wicket keepers, not only in Sri Lanka but in the international circuit during his era. His bubbling enthusiasm was an inspiration to the rest of the team and did much to keep his teammates going.

Born on 4th January, 1933, `HIK' joined St. Peter's College and from junior days he has been a wicketkeeper because he had the liking to that aspect of the game. It was the famous SSC off-spinner George Perera who advised `HIK' to stick to wicket-keeping after the `Big Match' against St. Joseph's College in 1950. `HIK' played for St. Peter's from 1949 and captained the team in 1950 and 1951. Herbert Fernando believes that wicketkeepers are not born, but one must make oneself a wicketkeeper.

After leaving College, he started playing for NCC. He was about 19 years old. He fared prominently in club cricket matches as wicketkeeper batsman.

`HIK's first international match was against Lindsay Hessett's Australian team in 1953. Col. F. C. de Saram captained the Ceylon side. HIK's greatest moment was when he stumped his rival `keeper' Don Tallon and did not concede a single bye. In this `whistle stop' one-dayer, Keith Miller barged into `HIK' to avoid a run-out.

`HIK' captained the Sri Lanka Board President's XI against Joe Lister's International XI. The match was played at the Colombo Oval (Saravanamuttu Stadium). `HIK' led a star-studded side, to name some of the players Michael Tissera, Stanley Jayasinghe, Anuruddha Polonowita, T. B. Kehelgamuwa, Abu Fuard. It was interesting to note that most of the senior players agreed to play under H.I.K. Fernando.

Joe Lister's XI asked to bat first, were dismissed for 164 runs with Abu Fuard capturing six wickets for 54. Joe Lister's side was led by M. Stewart father of Alec Stewart who also led England. Further they had stars like Mike Denness and Derek Underwood. Board President XI won the game with Michael Tissera, Stanley Jayasinghe scoring two good half centuries. It was a big honour for `HIK' to lead the President's XI.

Herbert Fernando was brilliant behind the wickets and captained St. Peter's Combined Services, Army, NCC, University of Ceylon and also led representative teams for Gopalan Trophy matches and also for matches against Joe Lister's International Eleven.

The outstanding sportsman Herbert Fernando, entered the Medical Faculty in 1956 and graduated with MBBS (Ceylon) in 1961.

He had the chance of playing along with six school cricket captains in the University cricket team - Dr. Ranjit de Silva, Dr. Brendon Gooneratne, Dr. Milinda Amarasinghe, Dr. Carlyle Perera, Mahinda Silva, Ranjit Dorenagama. Under his captaincy, University of Colombo became Sara Trophy Champions. Infect, he also led NCC side to win the Sara Trophy.

He also enjoyed his career in the Sri Lanka Army. He was commissioned in the regular Army as Captain in 1963, held rank of Brigadier in 1983 as Director of Army Medical Services, Director of Welfare and Rehabilitation, established Ranaviru Sevana Centre at Ragama. He obtained Diploma in Anaesthetics of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons in the United Kingdom.

When he captained the Army cricket team, they beat every club side at that time. It was very good experience for `HIK' and the star-studded side N. Ganegoda. H. D. Fernando, T. D. Rajapakse, E. H. Samaratunga, K. M. S. Perera, Nalin Angammana, J. B. Francis, M. D. Fernando, Patrick Fernando were some of the stars. He retired from service in 1955.

Dr. H.I.K. Fernando who played in all unofficial Tests and representative matches from 1952 to 1971 as wicket-keeper-batsman, coached his old school St. Peter's College for number of years. He has produced several Sri Lanka cricketers namely, Tony Opatha, David Heyn, Rumesh Ratnayake, Amal Silva and Vinodhan John.

As a sports administrator, he served as a Test selector. He was also a good cricket commentator.

His advice to young cricketers is that a `keeper' should have keen eye sight, good foot-work and enough of energy.

It is his duty to take catches all round the batsman, effect stumpings, gather every ball cleanly effect the `run-outs'.

 

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