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Antonian Premaratne:

'Daily News' Schoolboy Cricketer in 1956

The Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year competition has had deep roots in the sporting annals of this country and it was our sister paper the 'Daily News' that had somewhat of a 'kick-start' to this competition in the year 1956 when the contest was sponsored by Hemachandra Brothers.

St. Anthony's Katugastota cricketer in 1956, W. Premaratne was the 'Daily News' Schoolboy Cricketer. The format was somewhat different from what it is in the present day and the panel of judges from the Umpires Association comprising Dodwell de Soysa, Harry Jayasundera, Laddie E. Bakelman, Emilion E.V. Elias, R.S. Wickrematilleka and J.M.C. Jayasinghe were the gentlemen who got together and pciked Premaratne for the top most honour.

The umpires who served on the panel have gone to their eternal rest, but they can have the satisfaction that it was a job well done and school cricketers were given all the encouragement to forge ahead and keep Sri Lanka's flag flying high.

While Premaratne took the top honour, in second place was former Thomian cricketer, Dan Piachaud while another allrounder Ken Duckworth of St. Peter's College was third.

That particular year, Premaratne was in good form with the bat, his scores being 76 against St. Peter's, 56 against St. Banedict's, 99 against Dharmaraja, 114 and 19 against Ananda, 4 and 12 against St. Joseph's.

He was one of the best fieldsmen and he led his team admirably. He received the handsome Trophy and replies presented by Messrs. Hemachandra Brothers, the Kollupitiya Jewellers. In addition to the trophies, he received a bat.

All the finalists received bats gifted by the sporting knights - Sir Ernest Fernando and Sir Cyril de Zoysa.

After performing well for St. Anthony's Katugastota, Premaratne turned out for the University of Ceylon during the then premier cricket tournament in Sri Lanka - the Saravanamuttu Trophy Tournament that followed.At the start, there were fifteen finalists voted by 'Daily News' readers. The figures indicate the position in the voting list:

It was a happy W. Premaratne of St. Anthony's College, Katugastota when he received the good news that he was pcked as the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year (1956) at his Katugastota home.

"I am thankful to the Ceylon Daily News for what they had done in the cause of schools cricket and I owe a deep debt of gratitude to my school, to the late John Halangoda, Maurice Perera and to all those who had a hand in helping me along from my junior days," he said.

"Having learnt the fundamentals of the game from the Doyen of cricket coaches in the Central Province - Halangoda, I learnt the gentlemanly characteristics of the game from Maurice Perera, who taught me all the finer points - the will to win, the aggressiveness of approach in the face of Odds and the sporting spirit of the game both on and off the field.

He said that he is indebted to the members of the team, without whose co-operation his leadership would not have paid any dividends.

All sportsmen

Born in Katugastota, Premaratne is one of seven brothers, all of whom were very good scholars and equally good sportsmen. Five of his brothers were cricketers. The eldest - the well-known crown counsellor - L.B.T. Premaratne was a cricket of no mean repute, having played for Ananda as a bowler. His other brother - Colin also played for Ananda and was a ranked table tennis player in Ceylon (as the country was then known). He then passed out and became an Assistant Superintendent of Police.

The three younger brothers were equally devoted to the game. He is a devout Buddhist and his father gave him all the necessary 'push' for his to go places in the game.Though cricket takes top billing, cricket is not the only sport that he fancies. He was an athlete too. He also received his colours in football too and after his school days, he turned out for Phoenix FC in both CFA and Kandy District Football Tournaments. Tennis and Volleyball are the two other games he represented the college.It is not only in sports that Prtemaratne excelled in. He entered the University of Ceylon an Arts undergrad.

 

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