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Flashback...... :

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 Ceylon.

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 profitably.

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.

First year

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 against Ananda.

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. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa).

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.

 

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