Hemasiri Fernando – a cricketer par excellence of yesteryear
In the late 1950’s, late Hemasiri Fernando was a flamboyant cricketer of Richmond College who made a permanent niche in the annals of his alma mater.
He was a pace bowler of highest order with a lethal arsenal of deliveries under his belt in his heyday which was immensely feared by his opponents in the school cricket circle.
He was known for his intrigue smile infrequently flashed across his face before running up to bowl which was a marked sign of a sure wicket those days, according to the peers of his era.
He was an absolute treat to watch and constantly followed by his loyal fans and spectators wherever he made his presence for a fabulous display of cricket.
Unfortunately, he played cricket at a wrong time of the history when technology was at its most primitive stage and his deadly speed of bowling if ever measured, would have made a record that would perpetuate for long.
He had the rare opportunity of playing under the captaincy of Hemasiri Hettige, A. D. A. Gunasekara and Nandasiri Jasentuliyana.
In 1958, 1959 and 1960 he played in three Big Matches against their arch rivals Mahinda College. In 1958 playing under Jasentuliyana in the first Big Match he had a matchbag of 11 for 60 and in 1959 under Gunasekera he had a matchbag of eight for 42 and in 1960 under Hettige he had a matchbag of nine for 57 and set a record in Big Match series with 28 wickets for 159 runs at an average of 5.7, which is still a record.
He was a member of the 1958 and 1960 Big Match winning teams. Fernando not only excelled in cricket but an array of other sports including athletics and volleyball in his illustrious school career.
He was a gentle giant who was loved and admired by all during his school days. He was a fine short distance runner and he did 100, 200 yards and high jump and won easily at the Southern Province Athletics Meet and at the Public Schools Meets came second in 100 yards.
He also played for the school volleyball team and led the team. After leaving school he joined Moratuwa SC and played in a few Sara Trophy matches in the 1960-61 Tournament.
After having finished his schooling on a high note, in 1961 he joined the then Royal Ceylon Air Force and walked into the Division Three Cricket Team easily and in the following year he gained a place in the Division Two Team.
In 1962, Air Force won the Inter-Services Cricket Tournament and Fernando claimed 11 for 47 against a strong Navy Team which included the stalwarts like D. B. C. Mack, Milinda Amarasinghe, D. Lekamwasam and Cyril Fernando.
In the 1965/66 Donovan Andree Tournament along with K. M. Nelson, Mohamed Faleel and Sarath Fernando, he spearheaded the attack to win the Championship.
When they were promoted to Sara Trophy in 1966/67 in their very first match they beat the formidable Bloomfield with six for 13.
He played for the Defence Services in time to time and in 1971 he captained the Division Team prior to joining the Central Bank in 1972. There too he played for them and captained the first ever overseas team tour of India in 1976.
Lasitha Mendis – Former HR and Admin Manager of SLC, Rt Squadron Leader (Administrative Regiment) Sri Lanka Air Force