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