Trevine Rodrigo

Music industry shocked at the sudden passing of Ronnie Leitch – BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE
Ronnie Lietch

Ronnie_Lietch and Trevine Rodrigo

MAROONS NIGHT- 2018 - Organised By Old Anandians association of WA - Photos by Thilak Sen



The tragic passing of iconic Ronnie Leitch the night after he and fellow artiste Mariazelle Goonetilleke had vowed the Old Anandians in Perth has sent ripples through the music industry in Sri Lanka and added to it an outpouring of shock and grief among his countless fellow musicians and adoring fans.

Ronnie Leitch suffered a massive heart attack in the early hours of Sunday morning on October 1, hours after he and Mariazelle had entertained a mammoth crowd in Perth, hosted by the Ananda College Old boys Association. He was 65.

The talented performer left this world on a high and how many other artisteS would love to go, after another thrilling and most entertaining performance much like most of them he delivered for over four decades.

Ronnie Leitch won himself thousands of fans in Sri Lanka and around the globe for his multi-talented ability to sing, act and play the consummate comedian skyrocketing himself from humble beginnings as a young aspiring musician from Dehiwala, to become an icon of the Sri Lankan music industry.

My memories of him are filled with nostalgia particularly as a young lad where he made friends easily because of his open affable nature and his ability to connect with anyone through his sharp wit and the universal language of music. As aspiring young men, (some of us wannabes), we sang at Talent contests in Sri Lanka with such current great names as Geoffrey Fernando, Ben Nathanielsz and several others at the time. But my fondest memory of him was when he used to door knock Desmond Foulstone and I at our home in Quarry Road Dehiwala and invite us to join him and sing at Min Madura, a restaurant at the Dehiwala Zoo. Our fee, free booze and dinner. And oh, were we happy to oblige him.

He attended Arethusa College in Welalawatte but being a boy from Dehiwala, he had friends from all schools mainly St. Mary’s College and those he hung out with at Christ Church in Dehiwala, a place of worship he continued to attend to this day.

He had no limit to his repertoire starting off as a English singer then latching on to Sinhala, Tamil and Hindi music with the ease of a true professional while receiving an early boost from many established legends of today such as Sunil Perera and the Gypsies, Sohan Weerasinghe and the X’Periments, Corrine Almeida, Dalreen Suby, Desmond De Silva, and several other top musicians before finding his own direction and establishing his own image as Thattaya, (Bald man) which made him a household name in Sri Lanka and his ardent followers around the globe.

What made Ronnie a standout from many great performers was his selflessness and empathy for anyone, in fact everyone, judging the many reminisces I was able to gather since his passing. He never spoke about payment for performing said Melantha Perera, formerly of the band Mirage and now music tutor at the Riversheen Music School. If the event was for charity, he would accept a bare minimum or offer his service at no cost. This sentiment was echoed by one of his co-actors on the Sri Lanka TV channel ADA DAVASA who interviewed a visibly shaken Mariazelle Goonetilleke no sooner she returned to Sri Lanka as she tearfully recounted her harrowing ordeal. It was she that found him deceased on the morning of his passing.

Singing soon became only a single medium for him as producers soon discovered his sharp wit and acting skills to be an added attraction to his vocal ability. It started a journey that blossomed into one that will live forever in Sri Lankan folklore as Ronnie Leitch cut a niche for himself in the hearts and minds of people from every walk of life especially during the civil unrest in the country which proved to be a welcome distraction from the fear and trepidation which gripped the nation at the time.

As his popularity grew Ronnie Leitch, a burgher by descent, soon captured almost every music buff, especially those into Sinhala musical comedy, more for his originality and versatility than others who have gained immortality among music lovers in Sri Lanka. He was rubbing shoulders with those before him such as M.S. Fernando, Sunil Perera and the Gypsies and several others who provided hilarious compositions to the lighter side of Sinhala music.

A simple conversation with him would unravel the characteristic nature he dispossessed laced with hidden connotations and rib tickling humour which made it hard to walk away from him. His aura was indeed magnetic.

Tributes flowed like a river bursting its banks from around Sri Lanka and the globe because there is almost no one in music who did not know him.

Joey Lewis, now residing in England, paid glowing tributes to his childhood buddy as did Rukshan Perera who composed a song to fit his passing. Other icons such as Annesley Malawana, Chandral Fonseka, Melantha Perera, his co-partner on the Australian tour, Mariazelle Goonetilleke, Desmond De Silva and hundreds of fellow musicians took to social media to voice their shock, sadness and disbelief at his sudden demise especially in the prime of his illustrious career.

My photographer mate from The Sun/Weekend newspapers in Sri Lanka, Thilak Seneviratne, a close friend of Ronnie over many decades and one of the last people to capture his final performance in Perth had this to say:

“My dearest friend Ronnie, I never thought this was going to be the final portrait photograph in your life. You left all of us within a couple of hours after this photo was taken.

We used to meet very often in good old days, either after a musical show or a wedding reception in Sri Lanka. You and I were so pleased that we met again on the 27th of September at “Marrons Night-2018”, that is after 20 years of long time and you decided to celebrate it soon, before you were going on to the stage with Mariazelle.

When I met you yesterday, you were so excited to see your 94 year old aunt who lives in Perth. Your words are still echoing in my ears…” Machang, she is 94 years old, so it is good for me to go and see her before its too late…I might not see her again” …I really thought you were trying to convey a different message to me…because your Aunt has lived a good life…but I now understand that you knew about your secret journey…but still I ask myself, then why you made a promise to carry some of my equipment, when Maria proposed to bring them alone with you’ll when visiting Ozi again in December. I always remember the last drink that we had together to celebrate our friendship, even though we both have given up taking high spirits many moons ago.We love you my dearest friend…God bless your soul and do rest in peace buddy!!

In Melbourne top musicians such as Esric Jackson, Ben Nathanielsz, Ash Jayasinha, Sonali Lindsay, Cherrie Chamari, Shyane Fernando expressed sorrow and grief at his sudden departure from the music world. Some of them had performed with him during his last visit to Australia and spoke of his joviality and lighthearted nature.

Ronnie Leitch was laid to rest in the surroundings he was so familiar with, ‘Galkissa Cemetry’, in Mount Lavinia after a funeral service in the church he always attended, Christ Church Dehiwala. He will undoubtedly be an asset to the heavenly choir that had several recent iconic inclusions.

Ronnie Leach at the “MAROONS NIGHT- 2018” – Organised By: Old Anandians association of WA – Photos by Thilak Sen

 MAROONS NIGHT- 2018 - Organised By Old Anandians association of WA - Photos by Thilak Sen MAROONS NIGHT- 2018 - Organised By Old Anandians association of WA - Photos by Thilak Sen  MAROONS NIGHT- 2018 - Organised By Old Anandians association of WA - Photos by Thilak Sen MAROONS NIGHT- 2018 - Organised By Old Anandians association of WA - Photos by Thilak Sen MAROONS NIGHT- 2018 - Organised By Old Anandians association of WA - Photos by Thilak Sen

MAROONS NIGHT- 2018 - Perth" - Photos by Thilak Sen


Read More →

Debonair Desmond De Silva continues to command the stage in his own inimitable style – BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE
Desmond De Silva

Desmond De Silva

  Desmond De Silva

Desmond De Silva

Desmond De Silva


Desmond De Silva



“Yanna rata wate” is one of Desmond De Silva’s favorite Sinhala hits that has plucked at the heartstrings of his numerous fans and endeared him over the decades, and although the rest of the lyrics has a decidedly different message, this could not be more profound in describing this tireless travelling globe trotter whose performances around the world continues unabated.

 For many years Desmond De Silva has personified an image like no other and the magnetism of his performances has seen him conquer frontiers that many others of his vintage fear to tread. His passion as a singer/ entertainer in this respect finds few parallels in versatility and continuity at a high level as consistently as he does.

 Possessing a down-to-earth demeanor is one of the weapons he has in his multi-faceted amoury for success. Capturing the audience with his clever choice of music and delivering it to perfection to fit the occasion is the other.

 Just this year he would complete nearly 30 gigs not just in Australia but around the world, shuttling from Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary in Canada to Melbourne, on to London, several cities in USA, Sri Lanka, Sydney, Canberra and on it goes in a program that would give most mere mortals a dizzy head spin.

 What takes his audiences by surprise is the fact that he has been around the traps for a considerable length of time and you would expect that most would have tired of him. Not so in his case because every Desmond De Silva performance is laced with the unknown and an energy that is mind boggling. Such is the versatility and creative genius of this aging icon of Sri Lankan music. His repertoire, which is unlimited, is a case in point as he continually challenges himself to stay abreast with the changing trends in music and appreciates it.

 His uncanny ability to just step in and perform with any band is a characteristic that stumps most, mainly if it is a young band unnerved by the chance to back an icon of his nature. He breaks down barriers by encouraging the new breed using his vast experience to blend in seamlessly.

 From Ballads, to Rock -and- roll he can transcend to Raggae, Mowtown and Country making him one outstanding performer in any category. His prowess in Sri Lanka’s favourite Bailas is legendary and although dropping off the pace in his own new compositions at present, has produced enough culturally meaningful Sinhala hits that has and will live through Sri Lankan culture for many more decades to come.

 Just recently he was in Sri Lanka taking the hill country capital Kandy, by storm in what was described by producer Damayantha Kuruppu as one of the best events he has witnessed in his many years of productions. He had the Kandyans in a frenzy as he reeled out most of his Sinhala hits which has been etched in the minds of many generations.

 Evidence of his impact through Sinhala music could not have been demonstrated better than a recent incident at our residence when a young CCTV installer recognized him and was all agog revealing that he was a big fan who listened to his old hits at home every day. The young man then added to his story by saying that his three-year-old daughter was also a big follower of his hits going on to bring her back and getting her to perform in front of her idol, much to Desmond’s delight.

 Though the years roll on there is no sign of the popular singer’s demand waning and he says that he is blessed by the almighty to have been able to command the stage for as long as he has.

 Already indications are that he has a full calendar for 2019 as his limitless musical journey continues on its merry way.

 A summary of the hectic year was compiled and sent to me on request from wife Phyllis and it gives ample indication of Desmond De Silva’s brilliance as one of Sri Lanka’s best ever singer/entertainers and his continuing demand from adoring fans.

 > Year in Review for Desmond De Silva 2018.
> 12th January – in Vennuppuwe dance singalong for approx 650 pax

> 14th January – Concert at BMICH  to celebrate 100 concert events  produced by Damayantha Kuruppu

> 3rd March – Ananda/Nalanda big match SSC Cricket grounds in Sri Lanka – specially invited to perform at the Ananda College stand – had the crowd especially the younger crowd singing and dancing.

> March – 17th March St Paul’s Millagiriya dinner/dance in Sydney was a great success and tickets were sold out.  It was viewed as the best dance that SPM have ever had and Des was invited to perform for SPM Melbourne & London both engagements he could not accept due to clashes in his diary.
> April – 8th – Sinhala/Tamil New Year celebrations – Open Air Concert in Dandenong, Melbourne.  Amazing attendance and audience participation and appreciation.
> 21st April. – Joy Club inaugural Dance & Singalong at the Dutch Club Sydney.

> 24th April – Dinner Dance in Canberra on the eve of ANZAC Day was also another SOLD OUT event that had the Deputy High Commissioner  for Sri Lanka as Chief Guest.
> 5th May –  St Thomas College dance celebrating 150 years in Toronto Canada.  Tickets were sold out well in advance and the dance exceeded all expectations.  Reviews after the dance declared the entertainment provided by Desmond to be simply the best…..he gets better with age was the comment made by a guest.
> 12th May – Museaus College Dance in Melbourne
> 2nd June – Issipatana Dinner Dance in Melbourne.
> 13th July – recorded Ma Nowana Mame – a celebration of old Desmond’s favourites of songs by CT Fernando, Mohideen Baig, Dharmadasa Walpola and & Eddie Jayamana which went to air on 10th August on Derana TV and can been viewed on uTube.  Desmond received many accolades for giving these songs a new lease in life and introducing them to the younger generation.
> 14th July – Sing-along & Dance at Pegasus Hotel Sri Lanka
> >
> 21st July –  ‘Those were the days “Concert at BMICH.  Bringing back the music of the 60/70’s era with Mignonne Fernando, Noelene Honter, Conrad de Silva, Mariazelle Goonetilleke, Annesley Malawana, Maxi Rosairo, Priya Pieris and Desmond that had the audience entertained and asking for more.  By popular demand there will be part 2 of the concert lined up in 2019.
> 28th July – St Peter’s College dinner dance in Sydney – EVENT WAS SOLD OUT 3 MONTHS AHEAD.
> 4th August – EX- SERVICE & POLICE ASSOCIATION Dinner dance in Melbourne.
> 2nd Sept – ‘Yesterday Once More’ Singalong & Dance at the Golden Crown Hotel Kandy, Sri Lanka


> 7th Sept – Retro party at the Restaurant BMICH


> 8th sept – MAS Concert BMICH – backed by Mahesh Dennipitiya Orchestra


> 22nd Sept – Mahanama Dinner Dance Melbourne
> 6th Oct – Hantana Night – Desmond & his band the Impressions.
> 13th Oct – Invited to perform at Coyles Dinner Dance  (Chamber of Young Lankan Entrepreneurs)an exclusive event at the new 7 star Shangri La Hotel Colombo.
> 14th Oct – Fantasia Concert – Ave Maria Auditorium Negombo backed by Mahesh Dennipitiya Orchestra
> 20th October – Vancouver Canada

> 27th October – Calgary, Canada
> 3rd November – St Sylvester College Dance in Melbourne
> 24th November – St Peter’s College Dance in London
> 13th December – Clarence Wijewardene Commemoration Concert at Nelum Pokuna Sri Lanka
> 29th December – Dinner Dance in Sydney.
> 31st December – New Year’s Eve in Brisbane.
> >
> That’s year 2018 in in a nutshell  for Desmond De Silva!!!
> 2019 is shaping up to be an excitingly busy year too!  Des’s wife Phyllis has a full programme schedule in celebration of Desmond’s significant milestone birthday. Named DESMOND DE SILVA…..HIS JOURNEY is scheduled in July, followed by an Free Open Air concert in his hometown Matara.  A Gala concert at the BMICH will follow and an After Party Singalong Dance Meet, Greet & Celebrate with Desmond De Silva also planned for next year.  Celebrations will continue at venues around the world during the second half of 2019.

Read More →

It’s not all doom and gloom for the Wallabies –


Tough critics following the Australian game are all doom and gloom as they lament about another Bledisloe series defeat that stares in the face of the Wallabies who must now confront and overcome the enemy at Eden Park which is the fortress of New Zealand rugby.

But the flamboyant French recently showed that the Kiwis can be unsettled to an extent even at home, despite losing the recent series. The Wallabies must therefore approach this game with the ferocity they displayed in the Sydney loss and hope that fortunes go their way in opportunistic moments that present themselves like the Kiwis did last week.

Beaten in Sydney 38-13 by what looked like a hiding, the Wallabies can reflect on their performance as one where they had the required arsenal to match it with the mighty All Blacks but let themselves down at crucial stages of the game in the second term to completely nullify a gallant performance in the first half.

The All Blacks were forced into an uncharacteristic brand of rugby in Sydney which made them look vulnerable throughout although the final margin of victory looked staggering and indeed flattering. Take away the opportunistic moments that changed the course of the match and the score line could have been much tighter.

Plenty of work is needed in the scrum and line out in particular, which caused the most amount of damage by turnovers making this a work ethic that needs urgent attention. The All Blacks will exploit any chink they sense in these close contests.

The Wallabies played a well-orchestrated brand of rugby drilled on foiling the All Blacks pressure and by it they were able to change the visitor’s strategy to scrambling in defense rather than their renowned silky-smooth skills when they have control of a contest for most of the game. In fact, the All Blacks struggled for fluency in the first half because of the relentless defensive effort of the men in Gold resulting in an uncharacteristic morass of mistakes.  

In contests such as these two committed halves is the required minimum, but alas for the Wallabies, their fiery first half appeared to have sapped their momentum and the resultant stream of basic errors caused the blowout.

If lessons have been learnt Michael Hooper’s men must ensure the lapses are rectified. But expect a more committed All Black comeback too as Steve Hansen will not be satisfied with his charges effort being the perfectionist he has been.

The All Blacks for their part can review this as a wake-up call to the closing gap between themselves and the hungry pack in their wake bent on bringing their glorious run at the top of world rugby to a halt.

Returning skipper Kieran Read seemed to have made a difference to the All Blacks previous woes tightening the defense to near what it used to be and stifling many a threatening Wallabies counter attack which would have opened them up.

It all points to a riveting series and if the Wallabies can penetrate their graveyard where they have not tasted success for 32 years. An unlikely success could yet bring back that elusive Cup that has been away from Australia for too long.


South Africa and Argentina also figured in a titanic encounter before the Springboks took control of the game in the second half to win 34-21. The 2018 Rugby Championships promises to be closer this year than ever before.






Read More →

New look Wallabies hope to catch All Blacks on the hop –




A tormented Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will dwell deeply on his chances of bringing the Bledisloe Cup to Australia after 15 years of heartbreak, but his hopes will rest heavily on what the exciting new breed of believers can deliver against the relentless All Blacks who are still the team to beat in world Rugby.

Although the All Blacks continue to be ominous, the Wallabies have recently shown that they are on the rise and can match it with the best on their day. A recent unexpected win over the World champions is my case in point.

While Wallabies fans continue to hurl brickbats at their team for their recent slump and crowd numbers to games have fallen off dramatically, they have really been blindsided to the fact that there has been a marked improvement within the squad and any doubters will realize my assessment when the current Rugby Championships is concluded. In my previous comments fans have justifiably questioned my confidence in a team that lost its way in the Northern Hemisphere and then suffered a series loss to Ireland at home after a considerable time. But the indications are clear that the current crop are hungry for success and redemption. Michael Cheika will have to re-assess his direction at the helm to turn things around.

Question marks have been thrown in the media and on social forums about the validity of the hefty pay rise offered to current skipper Michael Hooper on his contract which is claimed to be unjustified. Although not producing a win /loss ratio that is acceptable by lofty Australian expectations, Hooper is a man who plays the game with his heart on his sleeve and his efforts which is sometimes tinged with indiscipline is fashioned with a hunger to win. This is the trait of a true leader.

Wallabies fans can expect a fresh new brand of Rugby at the Championships with an exciting blend of newcomers on the bench who bring flair and penetration among the backs which has formerly been lacking after the tough and relentless grind of their forwards who are second to none. The return of tough as nails David Pocock to the back row has given the Wallabies much joy and confidence to match it with the game’s best as he brings plenty of drive and defensive effort to quell the best forward packs in the world.

The All Blacks for their part have shown a recent uncharacteristic vulnerability in defense quite unlike their usual fierce style  and unless they have identified this lapse and addressed it they could find themselves vulnerable to the questioning forays of the Wallabies particularly in among the backs with Curlty Beale, Isreal Falou, Will Genia, Bernard Foley and Reece Hodge showing plenty of penetration and the ability to capitalize on any available lapses.

A shared series at home with the touring British Lions and two separate defeats to the Wallabies last year throws open hope to remaining three that they can be exposed at a given time. The return of Skipper Kieran Read will be defining for the All Blacks due to his astute leadership qualities which will gel the team to their potent best. The All Blacks have named a strong squad that will be tested as they strive to establish why they are and continue to be the world’s best.

south_africa_rugbyIt will be a close Rugby Championships this year with South Africa and Argentina also showing strong signs of improvement after disappointing returns early in 2017. The Springboks will draw strength from their recent series win over England which helped them erase earlier failures particularly against Italy.



Read More →

Wounded Lions Defy 

the Odds to Take Test Series

By Trevine Rodrigo in Melbourne

The pride of the Lion was aroused and stirred into action as Sri Lanka rose from adversity to thrash South Africa in the Test series and then went down 2-3 in the one-dayers to re-establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in world cricket once more.

After months of turmoil since touring the Caribbean in a controversy ridden tour, the Lankans without banned skipper Dinesh Chandimal, coach Chandika Hathurusinghe and Manager Asanka Gurusinha showed that there is pride and fight in the wounded Lions finding new direction and success despite the setbacks.

Few rated them a chance against the Proteas after their limited success in the West Indies where they gained plenty of publicity for the wrong reasons after ball tampering allegations against Chandimal and later dissent shown by team management which resulted in the ICC successfully charging and convicting them for bringing the game into disrepute.

But time and time again the Sri Lankans have proved that when the chips are down they have that uncanny inner strength to pick themselves off the mat and produce the unthinkable. And they did this in a manner that bamboozled the visitors and had them in a spin literally and otherwise.

For a team in transition and seeking consistency among their young charges, Sri Lanka appear on track to climb back to the upper echelons of the game only if the continue to persist with some of the players who have shown genuine potential to be superstars of the future. Only continued exposure and patience can achieve that.

South Africa for their part can blame themselves for their lack of preparation and planning in what to expect on slow turning sub-continental tracks. Their faith in their potent pace attack may have been justified to an extent as previously, a beaten Australia found out. But spin would ultimately rule in venues such as Galle which has a long history of successes and would always be the deciding factor. Australian superstar Shane Warne would readily testify to this.

While Chandimal cooled his heels on the sidelines, Sri Lanka were able to unearth an astute leader in Suranga Lakmal, who is beginning to reveal himself as a quality seamer as well. Lakmal showed exemplary decision making that saw the Islanders sweep aside South Africa’s feeble efforts with the bat as the Sri Lanka spinners wrought havoc to complete a memorable 2-0 victory in the Test series.

Dilruwan Perera bagged 10 wickets and veteran Rangana Herath and Suranga Lakmal grabbed three each to be the tormentors of the South African rout in the first Test in Galle condemning them to their lowest total, 73, since gaining re-admission to Test cricket.

It was almost comical to see established players of spin such as Hashim Amla, skipper Faf du Plessis and Quintin de Kock completely all at sea against the guiles of the Sri Lanka spinners as they floundered along with the rest of the team with almost no answer. Opener De Bruyn showed a degree of composure to be the only Proteas centurion in a losing cause in the second Test.

This was followed by a five-wicket haul by Dhananjaya De Silva and four by Dilruwan Perera in the first innings followed by a six -wicket romp by Herath which completed the Proteas whitewash at the SSC ground in Colombo.

Sri Lanka’s success was by no stretch of the imagination brought about solely by their spinners as their batsmen apart from Dimuth Karunaratne struggled for consistency. His 158 not out in the first innings followed by a useful 60 in the second was the key to their victory in Galle. He then made 85 in the Colombo Test to be named player- of- the -match twice and then player-of-the-series.

Dhananjaya De Silva, Angelo Matthews, Dhanushka Gunatilleke and Dilruwn Perera contributed in lesser fashion exposing Sri Lanka’s lack of consistency with the bat which will undoubtedly be the focus of coach Hathurusinghe on his return. Notable failures were Kusal Mendis and Roshen De Silva failed to deliver scores of note.

Angelo Matthews was brought back to skipper the Lankans in the one-dayers in the absence of Chandimal but found no success as the smarting Proteas bounced back to take a series winning 3-0 lead before conceding the final two dead rubbers to the Lankans.

All in all, it was pleasing signs for Sri Lanka as they grind their way back as a respected force once more. Time and consistency will be the key as they forge ahead.


Read More →

Sri Lanka cricket in recovery of sorts, but at what price?

Chandika Hathurusinghe and Dinesh Chandimal confer after ball tampering charges.



Sri Lanka beat the odds, survived the cheating allegations against Skipper Dinesh Chandimal and courageously squared the Test series against the West Indies but at a cost.

A country admired for their outstanding sportsmanship on the field over the years previous, they now share a tarnished reputation with some of the other countries who have come unstuck with their innovative methods at gaining unfair advantage over the opposition through cheating. 

Oddly enough their current series against touring South Africa led by Faf Du Plessis sees two countries whose Skippers have brought the game into disrepute pitted against each other although the Lankans are waiting with bated breath hoping for Chandimal to get off with a reprimand for what seemed a blatant act of cheating at St. Lucia in the West Indies. And this seems highly unlikely judging by the glaring evidence provided.

Under the direction of new coach Chandika Hathurusinghe, the Lankans appear to be rebuilding at a slow but positive rate. But the incidents in the Caribbean has not been encouraging if desperate measures are found to be the direction given to the team by their mentors to win matches.

A proper inquiry and stiff disciplinary action against Chandimal is envisaged by the governing body of the sport in the Island if they aim to set a good example to the future generation who need to be drilled that there is pride associated with donning the national cap.

What also needs to be established is how much the coaching staff and management knew about Chandimal’s actions and if any of them also had a hand in it.

Sri Lanka much like some of the top nations have built their game around exemplary sportsmanship within the framework of the rules unlike the Aussies who play it hard and sometimes get carried away with their intimidatory tactics.

Following Australia’s fall from grace in South Africa, where Skipper Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft were sprung for ball tampering and quite rightly dealt with harshly by Cricket Australia to stamp out the embarrassing menace threatening the game, it was reprehensible that Chandimal even contemplated such a foolish course knowing full well the repercussions that go with it if found guilty.

Now they face the dilemma of fronting up to a strong South Africa without a captain , head coach and manager, all found guilty of bringing the game into disrepute through their actions of threatening to walk out of a match in dissent of the umpires decision to charge them with ball tampering.

Only Hathurusinghe’s astute guidance before the ban can save them from being embarrassed at home by the Proteas.

Read More →

Sandra Jackson exits the world stage at an outpouring of grief and reflection –

Thousands of grief-stricken friends, family and fans braved a chilly Melbourne winter morning to bid farewell to much loved musical personality Sandra Jackson as she was laid to rest after a brief illness which snatched her away unexpectedly.


The popular frontline singer of ‘Replay 6’ and ‘No Limit’ succumbed to Pulmonary Fibrosis of the lungs and Cardio Vascular complications in the prime of her singing career leaving behind a distraught family and thousands of friends and fans who have marveled at her fantastic vocal ability over the past few decades.


The Catholic Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Endeavour Hills was filled to capacity and even poured out into the surrounds of the church as mourners thronged the funeral service to pay their last respects to a singer whose caring nature endeared her to many as was witnessed at the service, at the Springvale cemetery and the wake at the Grand on Princes.


The well attended and emotional service was well coordinated by Sandra’s family with tearful tributes from daughters, Tatum, Candice and granddaughter Mischa the highlights.


Tributes also poured in from far and wide as fellow musicians, media personalities and friends who have heard Sandra Jackson perform showed unreserved emotion at her passing.


The much-loved singer who commanded the stage and owned it with pride wherever she performed, was popular for her choice of music which was mainly Rock, Pop, Reggae and a special love for Country, and loved to interact with her fans whenever she belted out her favourites. She was renowned for her explosive Tina Turner imitations especially her favourite rendition of ‘Simply the best’ which was unmatched.


 Her distinctive vocals were always a head turner as was witnessed a few months ago when legendary singer Frank Ifield and former Australian TV presenter Donnie Sutherland interrupted their conversation to take in her performance at the Grand on Cathies which was launching Alston Koch’s movie ‘According to Matthew’.


Always a lover of the limelight, Sandra Jackson left this world with a suddenness that attracted thousands of people from all walks of life who had interacted with her at some time, to bid her farewell.


A wake at the Grand on Princes which threw in a lavish dinner and refreshments was packed beyond capacity as the 380- seated capacity venue spilled out to every nook and corner with many well wishers having to stand and watch the proceedings.


The wide screen at the Grand payed back some of Sandra Jackson’s special moments in her musical journey which included duets with such legendary personalities as Desmond De Silva. There were recorded messages from music greats such as, Dalreen Suby, Mignonne Fernando, Donald Pieries from Mirage, Melantha Perera, Benjy Ranabahu, Noeline Honter, veteran Island newspaper Journalist in Sri Lanka, Ivan Alvis, and a few others followed by live singing tributes to a dearly departed member of the musical fraternity in Melbourne by Derrick J, Andrea Marr, Arnie and daughter Paris Griffs,  Sonali Lindsay and Cherrie Charmari, Allison Jayasinha, Ben Nathanielsz, Shehara Rodrigo and Sandra’s backup bands Replay 6 and No limit.  


 The world has lost a shining star and the outer galaxy has gained one. Sandra was a great and much-loved wife to the love of her life, Esric, daughters Candice and Tatum, their spouses Toufic and Richard and grandkids Mischa, Cruz, Makai, and Brooklyn.


The stage will never be the same without Sandra Jackson leading the way with ‘Replay 6’ and ‘No Limit’. But it was her wish that no one should grieve at her passing. “Celebrate, have fun and let the music go on”, was her parting words to her loved ones.










Trevine Rodrigo

Read More →

Sandra Jackson plucked away in her prime –

Trevine_RodrigoPlucked away in the prime of her life through a cruel twist of fate, the power packed voice of Sandra Jackson will resonate no more.
Lead singer of Melbourne’s top band Replay 6 and leader of the band for many decades, Sandra Jackson left this world suddenly after a short battle with lung issues later compounded by the discovery of blockages to her arteries which left the medical staff at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne with no recourse to save her life.

Her sudden passing has sent shockwaves through the music industry in Australia, Sri Lanka and throughout the world of musicians who knew of her fantastic talent and endeared her for it and her ever availability to nurture and promote aspiring artistes.

The overwhelming response of shock and grief expressed at her passing on social media is enough testament to the massive following, love and respect she has generated over the years among music lovers in Australia and many other parts of the world.

The warmth and caring nature she personified is universally acknowledged by the thousands of friends and fans that had the pleasure of getting to know her.

Sandra and husband Esric have been in the forefront of the Melbourne music scene for many decades since migrating to Australia from Sri Lanka where their careers in music began.

Since beginning her career as a singer with a band named the Pioneers in Colombo, Sri Lanka, Sandra’s exceptional talent and explosive vocals soon had music fans clamoring to watch her perform everywhere the band played in Sri Lanka until she took wing to Australia in 1975. She wed Esric Jackson in 1976 and their partnership in love and their mutual passion for music soon saw them establish themselves in several bands for the past four decades and more gathering thousands of fans along the way.

Mixing their love for music with family life and raising two beautiful daughters was a challenging period for the singing Jackson’s but they carefully negotiated the challenge with great aplomb.

Sandra and Esric have matched it with the best in the music industry during their long stint rubbing shoulders with such wonderful world artistes as Smokey, Dr. Hook, The Village People, Marsha Hines, Ricky May, Jade Hurley and Allison Durban to name a few, most recently sharing the stage with legendary Frank Ifield at Alston Koch’s launch of the movie “According to Matthew”.

Although a star in her own right, Sandra has always acknowledged that she was blessed to share the stage with some of Sri Lanka’s legends of music such as Desmond Kelly, Desmond De Silva, Conrad De Silva, Cliff Foenander, Kamahl, Malcolm De Kauwe, Dalreen Suby, Mignonne Fernando, Noeline Honter, Alston Koch, Arthur Speldewinde and Arden Forster to name a few. Such was her humble disposition.

Esric and Sandra and the band Replay 6 have been featured at some of the best venues in Melbourne, Sydney and even travelled to Sri Lanka for a New Year’s gig in 2012 where they performed at the Galadari Hotel in Colombo alongside Mirage. Their popularity and versatility has seen them perform at most school dances from Sri Lanka and a wide spectrum of other events throughout the years.

What set Sandra Jackson as a standout from the rest was her uncanny ability to perform many genres of music from Rock, to Pop, Raggae, Country and she even gave the Bailas a go. She was indeed the consummate and complete entertainer. Replay 6 will never be the same without both of their well-known frontline singers who have complemented each other over such a long period of time.

Dubbed Sri Lanka’s answer to legendary Tina Turner whose hits she reeled off to near perfection, her rendition of “Simply the best” was so authentic that she was often compared to the great American wonder.

Among the plethora of achievements as a singer/ entertainer was the numerous CD’s she and Esric have recorded and sold with the proceeds mostly going to a worthy charity. They will surely be treasured memories of a fantastic performer taken too soon.

She leaves behind Esric and two devastated daughters Candice, hubby Toufic and Tatum and her husband Richard, and four grandkids she doted on, Mischa, Cruz, Makai and Brooklyn who are in shock at her sudden demise. Incidentally, both Candice and Tatum take after their parents possessing superbly talented voices.

May the stage that she commanded with pride and strode on so majestically lay lightly on her.

Read More →

Chandimal, brain fade or just brain dead? Captain, Coach and Manager face charges – BY TREVINE RODRIGO IN MELBOURNE

Trevine_RodrigoDinesh Chandimal must surely go down in the annals of Cricket history as the dumbest man ever to be chosen to lead his country after being exposed as a blatant cheat in the second Test against the West Indies at St. Lucia.

The Sri Lankan Skipper must lay claim to be plainly stupid or illiterate if he was not aware of the repercussions coming out of South Africa to three Australians just a couple of months ago for deliberately deciding to change the course of a game by tampering with the ball.

With cameras trained on every player for some time now due to the various methods chosen by players to gain an unfair advantage over the opposition, Chandimal must have had a brain fade if he thought he could get away with his actions, compounding his
situation further by denying any wrong doing and then contesting the charges against him despite damming video evidence which clearly showed his actions to be against the spirit of the game.

The ICC for its part must act without fear or favour and increase his penalty if his appeal fails in its bid to deter any others who think they should be let off on pure fabrication or any other excuse for leniency.

Chandimal is not the sole culprit for his actions as a look further should implicate the coach Chandika Hathurusinghe and his Manager or High Performance representative Asanka Gurusinha who are ultimately responsible for bringing the game into disrepute.

Subsequent to the ball tampering incident ICC Chief Executive Dave Richardson charged Chandimal, Hathurusinghe and Manager Gurusinha a level 3 offence relating to “Conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game”. They face suspension for two to four Tests depending on the outcome of an ICC initiated hearing under Judicial Commissioner Michael Beloff QC in July.

Meanwhile Chandimal’s appeal against any wrongdoing was thrown out at a hearing under Beloff and the suspension of one Test will be upheld which means he will be packed off and banished home for the remainder of the series.
Bad enough the struggling Sri Lankans are in transition stage as they battle to re-establish themselves in the top bracket of world Cricket, but the desperate measures they have opted to take to fast track their progress if definitely not in the best interests of the sport.

From a Sri Lankan Cricket administration perspective, it is hoped that they will act decisively with harsh punishment meted out to all involved and administer an outcome similar to what Cricket Australia did with their three ball tampering cheats if the game is to recover from its disastrous course.

Sri Lanka Cricket is once again at crossroads as it always has been with the current administrators in the firing line for bad administrative decisions despite delivering some form of financial viability which previous administrators were charged of siphoning for their own gain.

The circle of unrest within sadly appears to sit as normal for all things related to the sport in the island nation.



Read More →





While the world looks on and hope that Sri Lanka cricket will return to where they once belonged, the team stumbles and bumbles along looking for fluency and consistency that was once a trademark of their flamboyant style which made them entertaining and riveting to watch.

Of course, the top teams at the moment would like them to remain where they are because of their enviable record since gaining Test status in 1982. The successes they have achieved since then far surpasses many other countries who have been in the top bracket for far more years with little to show for it.

 Definitely not suffering from a lack of available talent, the Sri Lankan dilemma appears to be centered around the current structure and administrative input which has taken them back to the dark ages when they were whipping boys to the rest of the world.

 Losing a top coach in South African Graham Ford due to reported political meddling appeared to spell doom and gloom to the islanders but fortunately or dare I say questionably they managed to net another top-class coach in Chandika Hathurusinghe whose drawback may be that he is home grown which may yet have a detrimental effect on how he goes about his duties if he is not given a free hand.

 Knowing Hathurusinghe and his fierce determination to prevail over adversity in order to succeed as he did when Sri Lanka discarded him as an assistant coach where he went on to great things in Australia and as Bangladesh coach, it may not be long or surprising, before he abandons a lost cause if things don’t go to his plan.

 Since Hathurusinghe took over the reins, the islanders have recorded limited success mainly due to inconsistency and lack of experience within the squad and compounding their plight has been the failure of the experienced brigade such as Skipper Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Perera and a few others with the only reliable player, former skipper Angelo Matthews plagued by injury and unavailable more times than not.

 The fitness and physical preparation of the team also appear questionable judging by the ins and outs of players which also affects team gelling.

 Currently in the West Indies and staring down the barrel of yet another hiding in the 3-Test series, Sri Lanka’s plight can only get worse in the daunting encounters ahead of them against the top rungers of the game whom they encounter unless they can unravel a dramatic turnaround to their fortunes through consistency and a more committed approach.

Sri Lanka were thrashed by 226 runs in the first Test in Port-of-Spain.

There appears to be a fair amount of talent in the existing pool but exposure and perseverance at the initial stages particularly among the younger players may play an important role in establishing a team of world beaters. Youngsters Dananjaya De Silva, Kusal Mendis and Dilruwan Perera must be persevered with until they get to the next level while Matthews and Chandimal try to re-discover their lost momentum.

 Blessed with a rich cricketing culture and a deep history in the game, there has to be successors to their legends of the past that have won worldwide admiration such as Aravinda De Silva, Arjuna Ranatunga, Asanka Gurusinha, Sanath Jayasuriya, Romesh Kaluwitharne, Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Chaminda Vaas and a few others who were themselves successors to some fantastic players such as Michael Tissera, Anura Tennakoon, Sidath Wettimuny, Roy Dias, Duleep Mendis, Ranjan Madugalle and Rumesh Ratnayake just to name a few, when they made their initial foray on the world stage.

 The above-mentioned players were fiercely competitive with controlled aggression which in many players around the world is the ultimate catalyst to producing champions not just in Cricket but any sport.

 Cricket, like Sevens Rugby is to Fiji, is the only sport that Sri Lanka are able to compete on an even keel with the best in the world. So, their focus should be on nurturing what they have got and being the best at it.

 Sadly, at this stage the cavalier globetrotters of the recent past are nowhere close to their desired goal.

Read More →