Anura Tennekoon - a winner all the way in 1964
Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1964.... Anura Tennekoon - that fine
batsman from S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia who headed the batting
averages in the Schools and led the the Ceylon Schools team to victory
“Test” against the Indian Schools was and for his fine showing selected
the “Ceylon Daily News Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1964 by the
Special Panel of judges nominated by the Cricket Umpires Association of
The panel of umpires comprised M.A. Jayasinghe (Chairman), Clive
Deutrom, H.R. Perera, D.W. Tissaratchi and C.J. Jhon. They were assisted
by the Ceylon Daily News Cricketer writer “Wrong Un”, Bede
Pavimanasinghe - Hony. Secretary of the Ceylon Schools Cricket
Association was also present as an observer.
The title of Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1964 went to
Sumithra Fernando of St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa who had an
extremely successful season with the bat.
Anura Tennekoon - an easy winner
Fame on the cricket field is generally earned the hard way.
Occasionally in other sports a man bursts into the scene like a comet
and equally disappears from sight. Cricket has few such phenomena and
the one who has moved steadily into the hall of came, is one who has
served the game most usefully and such a player was Anura Tennekoon.
Consistency has always been the keynote of his successes. His record
show a long list of high scores, with very few failures. His cricket was
never the acre free type, for he was always determination personified
whether playing a back to the wall, sebate defensive game in the
interest of his team, or in the more usual aggressive style when runs
were quickly needed. However, he always had the concentration, stamina
and temperament for a long innings. His batting was founded on orthodox
lines, extremely correct and seemingly without weakness. He was always a
difficult batsman to dislodge, because he added terrific fighting
qualities and traditional Thomian grit, to those already mentioned.
As a captain he performed his task adequately with no show of
flamboyance. Yet it appeared that cares of captaincy took away much from
his batting. It may not have also hastened his premature retirement from
cricket. Early Test teams could very well have used his services
The pleasant, quite and self-possessed schoolboy conforms to nobody’s
picture of a cricketer. The self-effacing streak in him, has contributed
as much as anything else to his completeness a cricketer, neatness,
coolness and confidence are the symbols of his approach to the game.
There is a fastidious tidiness about it as if he had watched untidy
players with distate, and coldly decided not to have anything to do with
that type of game.
Like all true cricketers he had his first lessons in the under 10
team. With his natural gifts of a quick eye, patience and graceful
stroke play he began to make the grade.
Seeing him in 1962 as a small made 15 year-old play a brief but
mature innings for S. Thomas’ which earned him his colours without
hesitation. Even at the small age Anura Tennekoon showed that he was
capable of big things to come. With experience he developed a variety of
strokes in his repertoire, the favourite of which was his glorious on
drive which he played with so much confidence and certainty.
Tennekoon’s first year in the Thomian first eleven was in 1962. S.
Thomas’ were badly in need of a batsman to foil Darrel Lieveraz, the
royal captain who was a roaring success that year with his in-swing
bowling. Tennekoon was picked from the junior team and did the job
expected of him by getting 28 in his first Royal-Thomian match.
The next year he played in Randolf Morel’s team and made runs. His 87
against Wasely was the best for the season. In 1964 Tennekoon’s 78 in
the Royal-Thomian helped in a way for Premalal Gunansekera to break a
long spell of draws in the series. Together with Sarath Seneviratne,
Tennekoon, played the Royal attack. Prior to the Royal-Thomian he had
notched his first century in School Cricket by getting 127 not out
The victory in the Royal-Thomian cricket encounter in 1964 was
something that Tennekoon and other members of the team will never
forget. For Tennekoon it inspired him more and that year specially he
will never forget as he was picked the “Daily News” Schoolboy Cricketer
of the Year.
During his latter years in school he developed into a capable
left-arm spinner who had the happy knock of getting good wickets at the
right time for his team. Had he not concentrated so much on his batting
ability he could have proved to be a Sri Lankan allrounder of abounding
vitality as he was a slip or gully fieldsmen, who could brought off
spectacular catches. He watched every ball closely and his fleetness of
movement enabled him to be at the right place at the right time thereby
making difficult catches look so simple.
Eye -catching century
In his batting, one particular century he made against Colin
Cowdrey’s English team in 1969 in an ‘Unofficial’ Test and was really
eye-catching. His contemporary team-mate Ranjith Fernando made twin half
centuries. This was against the strongest English attack of John Snow,
David Brown and Derek Underwood, Pat Pocock and Basil D’Oliviera.
Sufficient had been seen of Anura Tennekoon, by then for the ‘Indian
Cricket’ to elect him one of the Five Cricketers of the year. This
honour is all the more creditable as Indian critics are very slow in
their praise of outsiders. If my memory goes right, I believe there are
only three other Sri Lankans who have been thus honoured - Stanley
Jayasinghe, Duleep Mendis and Ravi Ratnayake.
Tennekoon never forgot the advice and guidance given to him by his
two cricket mentors Messrs Lussie Abeywardene and Orville Abeynaike. It
was they who aided him to give vent to his run hungry potential.
In his school career he made almost 2,000 runs with centuries against
Ananda and Wesley. He passed the half century mark against every other
school something he did on 20 other occasions. He was also the mainstay
of the Sinhalese Sports Club batting and an automatic choice for every
Sri Lanka team since he first appeared as a schoolboy against Mike
Smith’s England team in 1965.
If Tennekoon could have contrived to arrange his birthplace to some
other cricket playing country like Australia or England his first class
figures would have reached fantastic proportions. At that time in Sri
Lanka he simply lacked the opportunity for exposure, having had to rest
content with Sara Trophy cricket and the occasional visit of an
international team were kind enough to visit us from time to time.
An appetite for big scores
Tennekoon never courted popularity, and never played to the gallery.
He always remained a conscientious performer with that appetite for big
scores. He is also never known to have thrown his wicket away.
After school cricket then to club cricket. Tennekoon was
contemplating which club he is to join to continue his cricket. Then a
member of the SSC - a real stalwart Bennet Medonza contacted him and the
deal was finalised and Tennekoon started playing for the SSC and at the
senior level there was that ever helpful coach Bertie Wijesingha who
guided him through the initial stages of club cricket and then Tennekoon
got on to the Sri Lanka team.
He represented Sri Lanka for 14 years and five of the years he
captained the team. The captaincy came from one Thomian, Michael Tisera
to another Thomian Anura Tennekoon!
Here’s the selection
Schoolboy Cricket of the Year 1964: Anura Tennekoon (S. Thomas’
Collegem Mount Lavinia).
Runners-up: 2. Ranjith Fernando (St. Benedict’s), 3. Premalal
Goonesekera (S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia), 4. Felix Dias (St.
Benedict’s College), 5. S. Rajaratnam (Royal College), 6. Sumithra
Fernando (St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa).
Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year: Sumithra Fernando (St.
Best Batsman: Anura Tennekoon (S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia).
Best Bowler: Travis Fernando (St. Peter’s College).
Best Allrounder: S. Rajaratnam (Royal College).
Best Fielder: David Heyn (St. Peter’s College).
Best Captain: Sunil Fernando (St. Benedict’s College).
Best Wicket-keeper: Ranjith Fernando (St. Benedict’s College).
Best Team in Western Zone: St. Benedict’s College.
Best Team in Central Zone: Trinity College, Kandy.
Best Team in Southern Zone: St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa.