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Sunday, 18 March 2012





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Tennekoon - the ‘Daily News’ Schoolboy Cricketer of 1964, showed the way

CRICKET: Competitions like the Sunday Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Show gives great encouragement and motivation for the schoolboy cricketers.

Organising a show of this nature by the Sunday Observer for over three decades is no doubt laudable, said the former Sri Lanka cricket captain Anura Tennekoon.

Anura Tennekoon

Anura Tennekoon, won the coveted award in 1964 in an era where there were no sponsors when it was conducted by the Ceylon Daily News. He received the award by virtue of his exhilarating batting displays during the school cricket season while at S. Thomas’.

In the early years, Tennekoon’s concentration was unerring and his consistency was remarkable. This made him very much closer to national recognition while at school in double quick time.

He represented S. Thomas’ from 1962 to 1966. Tennekoon was selected to represent Sri Lanka in 1965 when the England Team played a match on their way to Australia at the Colombo Oval, under M.J.K. Smith.

Sri Lanka team was captained by Michael Tissera - another Thomian, who played for the country with distinction.

In 1964 when Tennekoon was selected as the winner of the All Island competition, while Sumithra Fernando of St. Sebastian’s won the Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer Award and later took Banking as a career while playing cricket. The competition provides recognition to the cricketers from the outstation schools as well.

Top players like Sanath Jayasuriya, Tharanga Paranavithana and more talented players have emerged from the far away areas and have represented the country at the highest level. In the recent past there have been an abundance of talent from rural areas coming through. This competition will no doubt help these players to find their way in their future endeavours.

Tennekoon took over the captaincy of Ceylon (as we were then known) from Michael Tissera and had the honour of leading Sri Lanka at the inaugural Prudential Cricket World Cup held in England in 1975. In the tournament, Sri Lanka gave a spirited display against Australia while chasing a big victory target in the 60 over competition. He was also the captain in 1979 World Cup also staged in England. Sri Lanka beat India in a preliminary round match captained by Bandula Warnapura as Tennekoon did not play in that match due to injury.

Tennekoon has played many a great inning during his career and has scored centuries against almost all Test playing nations during the pre-test era, but his unbeaten 169, a lone battle which could not prevent the Lankans losing to India in an unofficial Test (In an era where Sri Lanka was pressing hard for full ICC status in 1974), was a classic demonstration of quality batsmanship. The Indian side was led by Ajith Wadekar and had players of the calibre of Sunil Gavaskar, S. Venkatraghavan, Ashok Mankad, Salgonkar, Madan Lal and P. Shivalkar the left arm spinner.

He should consider himself trifle unlucky not to be the first Test captain as he retired prior to Sri Lanka gaining full ICC Test status in 1982.

The mild mannered, pleasant and a gentleman to the most literal sense, Tennekoon’s batting style does not resemble to anyone as he adopts his own inimitable style.


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