Premasara Epasinghe, in the Island, 4 August 2011, under a different title
He was known as the ‘King of Swing’. Undoubtedly, he is one of the most feared fast bowlers that Sri Lanka has produced. Added to his cricketing prowess, he was also a brilliant academic. I presume, in the field of Polymer Science, he is one of the most qualified individuals. This talented Sri Lankan all-rounder, holds a BSC, University of Ceylon Colombo, MSc and M.B.A. from the University of Sri Jayawardenepura and FPRI (UK). Further, he holds a Masters Degrees in Polymer Chemistry and Business Administration. He is Henry Siri Mevan Pieris, popularly known as Mevan Pieris.
Pieris learned his basics as a schoolboy at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. S. Thomas’ College produced highly distinguished and productive citizens, including three Prime Ministers D. S., Dudley Senanayake and S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike and well known historian, Sir Paul Pieris academics, medical specialists, legal luminaries, accountants, diplomats, financial wizards, educationalists, top cricketers, etc.
Pieris represented the S. Thomas’ College, First XI under Premlal Gunasekera and Sarath Seneviratne in 1964 and 1965, respectively. This right arm fast-bowler was a left-hand batsman. His best performance with the bat was the dashing unbeaten 120 he made against Ananda, in only 85 minutes atMountLavinia.
Pinnacle of schools Big Matches: For any Royal or Thomian cricketer, the greatest achievement is to play in a Royal-Thomian encounter ‘The Battle of the Blues’, and obtain colours.
Mevan Pieris had the distinction of playing in the 85th ‘Battleof the Blues’ as a fresher on 13th and 14th March 1964, at the Colombo Oval. The Thomians were led by Premalal Gunasekera and the Royal captain was J. D. Wilson.
The Thomians recorded an eight wicket victory. In this match, Anura Tennekoon scored 78 and Sarath Seneviratne 96. Playing in his first Royal-Thomian, Mevan Pieris bowled only five overs, with two maidens and took 1 for 9 runs when he clean bowled H. N. De Silva for eight runs.
Victorious Thomian side: The victorious Thomian team consisted of L. S. Perera, K. Boralessa, A. P. B. Tennakoon, P. N. W. Gunasekera (Capt), S. B. Seneviratne (Vice Captain), S. Rajapakse, R. P. Samarasinghe, G. Balasingham, B. D. Ried, L. Chelliah and H. S. M. Pieris. On 12th and 13th March 1965, the Royal-Thomian match was played at the Oval and H. S. M. Pieris (11-5-13-1) and (12-4-29-0), opened the bowling with B. D. Ried (29-19-28-3) and (35-19-49-4). This was the 86th ‘Battleof the Blues’.
Played for Sri Lanka as an undergrad:Mevan Pieris, after a brilliant sports and academic career at S. Thomas’, entered the Science Faculty of theUniversityofCeylon,Colombo. He captained the University cricket team in 1970. In the same year, University emerged Division I league champions. He played againstMadras(Chennai), captained by Sirinivasan Venkataraghavan. The dashing left-hand batsman Mevan Pieris scored twin half centuries and took 5 wickets for 55.
As an undergraduate, Pieris played forSri Lankaand accounted for MCC number three batsman Keith Fletcher, off the first ball he faced.
Mevan brings victory for SL: Going down memory lane, I can recollect this thrilling match.Madras needed eight runs to win. Satwender Singh was 87. Pieris dismissed Satwender Singh and thanks to thisSri Lanka won the match. All hell broke loose. The spectators invaded the field, carried Mevan shoulder high to the pavilion and showed their appreciation to this fine all rounder.
Leading wicket taker from 1970 to 1975: He represented Sri Lanka from 1970-1975 and became the leading wicket taker, accounting for the dismissal of some of the world’s finest batsmen, such as Sunil Gavaskar, Zaheer Abbas, Doug Walters, Greg Chappell and Keith Fletcher. He took 6 for 33 against the Pakistan U-25 team, captained by Wasim Raja, at the CCC.
University colours in three sports: While at university, Mevan was awarded colours in tennis and hockey in addition to cricket. He was awarded the prestigious Leslie Handunge Trophy.
Inaugural World Cup team: Mevan Pieris had the proud distinction of representing Sri Lanka in the first ever World Cup played in England in 1975. In Sri Lanka’s first match, played at Old Trafford, Manchester, on 7 June 1975, against the West Indies, Sri Lanka were dismissed for a paltry 86 and WI won by nine wickets.
Dismissed Greg Chappell and Doug Walters: In the 1975 World Cup match against Australia, Sri Lanka lost by 52 runs. This match was played at the Kennington Oval, London. As one of the opening bowlers, Pieris bowled 11 overs, capturing two wickets, that of Greg Chappell for 55, caught off his bowling. The catch was taken by Tony Opatha. Then he dismissed Doug Walters. He was caught by Anura Tennakoon. Walters scored 59 in 66 balls with five tours.
In the third World Cup match on 14 June 1975, at Trent Bridge, Nottingham, against Pakistan, in reply Pakistan’s 330 for 6 in 60 overs, Mevan Pieris bowled nine overs, gave away 54 runs, without success.Sri Lankascored 138 runs in 50.1 overs andPakistanwon by 192 runs. In this match, Pieris scored 16 runs with two boundaries.
King of swing: Cricket and academic pursuits were a passion for this unassuming persona. He captained SSC and was a leading all-rounder. As an in-swing bowler, he was almost always among the wickets, capturing six or more wickets on many occasions. Because of his brilliant performance, he carried the tag ‘Kings of Swing’. In 1977, he scored a marvelous 137 against Colts, at his home grounds, at Maitland Place.
Radio commentator par excellence: Pieris is one of the leading English cricket commentators inSri Lanka. He commentates on the Royal-Thomian match regularly.
Unknown facts about Mevan: Mevan Pieris hails from the Pieris Deraniyagala family of artists; foremost among them was Mevan’s uncle, Justin Pieris Deraniyagala. Following in the footsteps of his uncle, he became a highly talented artist. His canvas paintings and portraits are hung on the walls of the Institute of Chemistry, at Rajagiriya.
Trained singer: He is also a trained singer and was a pupil of the famous Spencer Sheppard.
Writer:Mevan Pieris is a prolific writer. He has written many articles to journals and magazines on a wide range of subjects and at present, he is writing a family history and the evolution of the family combine to which he belongs. He hopes to launch this historical book next year (2012). Further, he plans to write ‘His Cricketing Memoirs’. He is also writing another technical book on rubber and plastic chemistry and technology.
Amazing academic and professional career: Mevan Pieris’s academic and professional careers are amazing, like his distinguished cricket career. While he served at Arpico, he sat for the Licentiateship Examination of the Institution of Rubber Industry in theUnited Kingdom and was awarded the gold medal forSri Lanka for the best performance. Thereafter, he secured a Masters degree in Polymer Chemistry, at theUniversity ofSri Jayawardenepura and obtained a Merit degree in the Master of Business Administration of the Post Graduate Institute of Management.
Visiting lecturer: In view of his academic excellence, wide knowledge and experience, he is today probably the most highly acclaimed visiting lecturer at several universities.
Leader in professional community: Pieris has been a leader in the professional community. He is a former President of the Plastic and Rubber Institute and also of theInstitute ofChemistry,Sri Lanka. He has been honoured with several top awards, distinguished service and achievement awards by professional institutes.
Mevan is married to Dr. Nirmala Pieris, UNID, Consultant. They are blessed with a son and daughter. Nilanka, following in the footsteps of his illustrious father, played for the S. Thomas’ College First XI and captained the team in 1995 while the daughter, Mrs. Dilani Yatawara is a Chartered Accountant and the Group Finance Director of Associated Motorways.