Daya Sahabandu - a priceless asset and a genius in his time from
1960s to 80s.
CRICKET: The captioned superlative is intended and deservedly so.
Daya Sahabandu was a priceless asset and a genius in his time extending
from the 60s to the 80s. In the pelting rain, I sought refuge at Daya
Sahabandu's for a revival of dusty memories. Betwixt claps of thunder
the golden arm trolleyed in his precious scrapbooks, not having lost a
scrap of his boyous zest for the beloved game.
Daya Sahabandu and his legendary skills were born on the 28th of
March 1940 at 26 Charlemont Road, Wellawatte.
Aged about 6 years he honed his legendary skills on his hapless
little neighbours down the lane, the left-armer wheeled away
ceaselessly, from dawn to dusk, till the last weary toddler, turned home
for supper. The effort was not wasted, certainly not on the budding
By the year 1958 the redoubtable Gamini Goonesena has earmarked
Sahabandu's arm for glory, impressed by the youngster. Spinning his
wares for Royal College under the leadership of Michael Wille.
Initially, marking his run for the Sinhalese Sports Club in the
'Daily News' Trophy from 1960 to 1963, a change of clubs in 1964
transformed his cricketing fortunes. At Nomads the crafty skipper D. H.
de Silva, licking his chops, gave Sahabandu a fair crack of the whip,
6,552 overs in fact, over a span of 20 years. Bandu repaid his captain
in full measure, with 1,048 wickets at an average 14.11, plugging one
end with 1,919 maidens.
Armed with the destructive left-arm of Sahabandu and a wicked glint
in his eye D. H. de Silva made a successful assault on Ceylon's plum
title, the Sara Trophy in 1964/65, a proud moment for Bandu.
The Nomads and the Colombo Municipality who so large heartedly gave
refuge to so many hugely talented cricketers bearing less fasionable
names from the less fashionable schools. A big bouquet to the CMC
velatedly though, for lifting that plum in 1965.
Runs and wickets did not pay your bills, certainly not in that era.
The Board of Control paid him a paltry Rs. 200 per International as
smoke money. The ever benevolent Mr. R. Rajamahendran, employing
Sahabandu for well nigh 30 years ensured that our country was not
deprived of a priceless asset.
Sahabandu's fistful of wiles consisted of his stock orthodox left-arm
leg-spin, whilst his armer was a beast of a ball, evilly disguised
amongst his slower deliveries. Purgatory for the batsman would arrive
early in the day, in the event Bandu took the new ball. Loping in from 8
paces he would whip it into the right-hander at a sharp slant and a
steep dip in trajectory, making the best of them look ridiculous.
Pathetically the mountains of accolades at home fetched him only a
handful of International hustings, none of which were squandered by the
* 3 for 54 for Sri Lanka against India at Nagpur in 1975.
* 2 for 90 Ceylon against MCC at Colombo in 1969.
* 2 for 64 and 2 for 52 for Ceylon against Australia at Colombo in
* 1 for 33 and 5 for 86 for Ceylon against MCC at Colombo in 1970.
The heaps of wickets taken in Gopalan Trophy matches and for The
Board President XI against visiting Internationals are not depicted
below as the figures would take much space to catalogue. Batsmen of the
calibre of Graveney, Cowdrey, Lawry, Walters, Huntem Chappell, Gavaskar,
Vishwanath, Edrich, Boycott were among the batsmen he had to contend
with, and that he asserted himself is obvious. Reputed English Test
stars such as Tom Graveney, Brian Close, and Alan Smith heaped accolades
on our erstwhile left-armer. Tom Graveney arguably the best post war
English batsman contended that Daya Sahabandu was the best bowler he had
faced in 20 years of big cricket.
Daya conversely heaped praise on the captaincy of Tissera, the
batting of Tennakoon and the pace of Kehelgamuwa.
A sudden tumble of wickets in the Nomads lower middle order would
bring Bandu, seemingly reluctantly to the crease, equipped with an old
relic of a twine bound bat. He reminded me with immense pride of his
heroic 32 n.o. against the wiles of Bedi, Prasanna and Chandrasekhar in
an unofficial Test against India in 1975.
The chink in his edifice was his ponderous fielding, Specializing at
mid-on Bandu could be delightfully detached and absent minded, no doubt
plotting the demise of the batsman who had swatted a couple of
boundaries past his boot laces at long on.
In a rare flash of deadpan humour the maestro recollected as to how
the peanut vendor, pineapple seller, umpires, scorers, spectators and
the players all travelled to a game in the same bus, public conveyance
being the primary mode of transport available during those austere
Just a couple of players sped past in autos, to be decimated by Bandu
later in the day anyway.
Daya Sahabandu is mercifully in good health, delightfully eccentric,
his lean frame wobbling a bit now has mellowed much and even at 69 years
of age, exemplified the joy and pride of having been part of the great
game. He spends his time amongst his souvenirs and memories lovingly
tended to by his gracious spouse Swarna and son Janaka, a Banker by