Anura Tennekoon - the most prolific scorer in pre-Test era
Former Sri Lanka skipper Anura Tennekoon was full of praise for the
Sunday Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year show which is
eagerly looked forward to by schoolboys and supporters alike.
Anura Tennekoon won the coveted award in 1964 at a time there were no
sponsors for shows. The competition then was conducted by the Ceylon
Daily News and Tennekoon won the award for his fine batting displays and
he was very close to gaining recorgnition in playing for the Sri Lanka
He represented S. Thomas' from 1962 to 1966. While still at school,
Tennekoon was selected to represent Sri Lanka against England under
M.J.K. Smith when the English team was on their way to Australia.
Sri Lanka on that occasion was led by Michael Tissera and the match
took place at the Saravanamuttu Stadium, earlier known as the Colombo
That year - 1964, Tennekoon was picked as the Ceylon Daily News
Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year All-Island while Sumithra Fernando of
St. Sebastian's won the Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year
Anura Tennekoon was easily the most prolific scorer for Sri Lanka in
the pre-Test era. He was able to do that because of his sound technique
and long powers of concentration which enabled him to bat for long
periods and compile a heap of runs for his country. He was the ideal No.
3 batsman for any country to have in a Test side. Unfortunately, for
Tennekoon and Sri Lanka his talents were confined to playing only
unofficial Tests. By the time the country got Test status, Tennekoon had
retired from the game.
The secret of Tennekoon's success as a top-order batsman was his
excellent footwork which enabled him to convert good length balls into
half-volleys or full tosses.
In an early interview, Tennekoon said: "To a great extent the
footwork I was taught made me a successful batsman. What I feel is that
if a batsman has good footwork sometimes one can convert good length
deliveries into half volleys and at the same time if you move back
enough, convert a good ball into a hittable balloon the back foot.
Footwork to me played a major role in my batting", Tennekoon said.
Tennekoon was still a schoolboy when he was picked to represent his
country against Mike Smith's MCC team in the one-day match in 1965. He
batted at number 7 and remained 4 not out.
By the time Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) toured Pakistan in 1966/67
Tennekoon had moved up the batting order to become the permanent number
three for his country, replacing Lasantha Rodrigo in that position.
Tennekoon represented his country for 14 years and was captain for five
of them. The captaincy passed on to him from Michael Tissera when
Tissera was unavailable for the tour to Pakistan in 1974 due to work
The selectors retained Tennekoon as captain although Tissera was
available and he went on to lead the country in the first two cricket
World Cups in England in 1975 and 1979 when Sri Lanka became the first
non-Test playing nation to defeat a full member country India in World
Cup match and they also went on to become ICC Trophy Champions.
Tennekoon said that even in the 1975 World Cup Sri Lanka had a good
game against Australia at the Oval.
Sri Lanka chased 328 runs and got up to about 276 for 4 wickets in 60
overs. Sri Lanka were going well until Sunil Wettimuny and Duleep Mendis
were knocked off by Jeff Thomson. Sri Lanka came close to beat
Australia, but Australia had the capability to restrict Sri Lanka.
Before coming on to club cricket and international cricket, Tennekoon
was a star member of the S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia cricket team
and played for five years, captaining in his final year in 1966.