Talent Abundant. The All-Conquering University of Ceylon Cricket Team of 1962-63

Talent Abundant. The All-Conquering University of Ceylon Cricket Team of 1962-63
ceylon-cricket-team-62-63
Anonymous Author, in The Island, 16 March 2013

The Ceylon University pool players included seven doctors.

Former members of the University of Ceylon ‘62/63 will gather at the NCC on the morning of March 23 to celebrate their winning the Sara Trophy 50 years ago. Their feat has never been achieved by any other university team. In spite of the heavy burden of studies, they had to contend with, they were able to excel in their chosen sport to win the Sara Trophyin the 1962/63 season. The team consisted of a very talented group of youngsters who were not at all overawed by the might of the opposition, sporting All Ceylon players of that era. They, in their youthful exuberance, overcame all odds in capturing the title. Their conduct off the field was exemplary. They were gentlemen to the core in their behaviour.Many of them were also accomplished musicians. All these cricketers, without exception have reached the pinnacle of their chosen careers as doctors, engineers, architects, civil servants and veterinarians, both locally and abroad.

The year 1962 saw the coming together of a number of very talented students from various schools in Ceylon of that era to be members of a fantastic cricket team to represent the University of Ceylon in cricket in the local premier tournament, vying for the Saravanamuthu Trophy. These young students of that era, mainly from the Colombo schools, entered university, after passing the very competitive university entrance exam of the era.

The team was skippered by Carlyle Perera, a Josephian, a no nonsense leader and a fourth year medico at that time. He was a hugely talented batsman with an astute cricketing brain and the incredible skills of man management to extract the best efforts from his team members. His deputy was a Thomian – Buddy Reid, another fourth year medico, who was a great cricketer with a never say die attitude and possessing true Thomian grit.

The other members were:

Mano Ponniah –Thomian – Opening bat and superb fielder in the covers. Engineering student.
NJS de Mel – Royalist – Diminutive and dashing opening bat with no respect for the reputations of the opponents.
Nihal Gurusinghe – Thomian – Tall and elegant and attractive batsman to watch when set. Smart in the slips. Medico.
Lareef Idroos – Thomian – A great all-rounder. Leading leg spinner of the era, sound batsman and an excellent slip fielder. – Medico.
Cyril Ernest – Benedictine – Another great all-rounder – Lethal off spinner, dashing bat and a brilliant close in fielder. – Medico.
Mohanlal Fernando – Anandian – All-rounder – Opening bowler with excellent control of swing; middle order batsman and fantastic fielder in close, in and in the deep.
V. Sivanandan – The only outstation schoolboy cricketer in the team – from St. John’s, Jaffna. A fabulous wicket keeper and lower order batsman – Veterinarian.
Harsha Samarajiva – Royalist – Opening bowler, with a vicious well concealed bouncer who intimidated many an opposing batsman. Lower order bat. Close in fielder. Medico.
URP Goonetilleke – Thomian – A solid opening bat; fielded in the covers and also bowled medium pace cutters when needed. Medico.
K. Wimalaratne – Royalist – A stubborn batsman and a medium pace bowler. Fielded in the outfield.
Nanda Senanayake – Royalist – Superb allrounder – middle order bat, off spinner and a great fielder in the covers. Physical Science student.
Kingsley Fernando – St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa. A dashing bat, leg spinner and excellent fielder close in fielder. Engineering.
Merril Guneratne – St. Peter’s College – Left arm medium pace swing bowler with excellent control of line and length. Fielded in the mid-on and mid-off positions. An underrated batsman who sold his wicket very early. The only student from the Arts Faculty.
Adiel Anghie – Peterite – Reserve wicket keeper. Solid Middle order bat. Medico.

Unselfishness and team camaraderie were the foremost attributes instilled into the minds by their leader, Carlyle Perera. This did pay dividends. It must also be mentioned that in the following season, the university were runners-up to Bloomfield and lost by the barest of margins of 0.04 points due to one missed catch. Well, that’s cricket.

The team has since lost some of their members, and the surviving members of the champion team are back in Sri Lanka to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of winning the championship and they will be celebrating at a couple of events in a resort hotel down South, and at the NCC, at a reception for the team.

It has to be noted that six members of that great team subsequently played in representative Ceylon sides – Buddy Reid (also played for Ceylon in Table Tennis), Mano Ponniah (also played for Cambridge, England.), Nihal Gurusinghe, Lareef Idroos (also played for USA), Cyril Ernest (also played for the USA and in the World Cup -Birmingham, England) and V. Sivanandan.
Where are they now?

Carlyle Perera – Melbourne, Australia. Consultant Psychiatrist.
Buddy Reid – Melbourne, Australia. Consultant Surgeon.
Nihal Gurusinghe – Tepuke, New Zealand. Consultant Internist.
Mano Ponniah – Back home in Colombo. Renowned Architect.
Lareef Idroos – Los Angeles, USA. Consultant Nephrologist. Retired professor UCLA.
Cyril Ernest -Lancaster, California. USA. Consultant Cardiologist.
Harsha Samarajiva – Back home in Colombo. Much sought after Internist.
Mohanlal Fernando – Wales. Retired Rheumatologist and specialist in Sports Medicine.
V. Sivanandan – Resides in Malaysia. Emeritus Professor in Veterinary Sciences, University of Minnesota.
Kingsley Fernando – Colombo. Retired Chief Engineer, Colombo.
Nanda Senanayake – Colombo.
Adiel Anghie – Virginia, USA. Retired Consultant Pulmonologist.
Merril Guneratne – Colombo. Retired DIG.
Unfortunately, NJS de Mel, K. Wimalaratne and URP Goonetilleke are not with us anymore. NJS was an executive at Ceylon Tobacco. He died in Sri Lanka. K. Wimalaratne, a consultant Cardiologist tragically drowned in California, while URP Goonetilleke, a Consultant Pathologist died in England.
Mohanlal Fernando represented Wales at tennis. Buddy Reid represented Australia in the Masters Table Tennis International tourney and Cyril Ernest achieved the distinction of gaining his Black Belt in Tae Kwondo [an also played for USA in Cricket at the Fworld cup in UK]..
All of them were university students first, though they were in the limelight due to their sporting abilities and that studies did supersede sports. For those representing the country today in various sports, the members of the ‘62-63 team are an example. It would be pertinent to mention that they were able to combine the two. Some of them represented the university in cricket, but other sports as well.
Buddy Reid – Cricket and Table Tennis
Cyril Ernest – Cricket and Hockey
Mohanlal Fernando – Cricket and Badminton
V. Sivanandan – Cricket and Soccer.
URP Goonetilleke – Cricket and Hockey
K. Wimalaratne – Cricket and Hockey.
Nanda Senanayake – Cricket, Hockey

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