Nigel Kerner and Sri Lanka Cricket

Neil Perera, in the Sunday Island, 12 February 2012

Nigel Kerner in an article entitled ‘A College of Guardians for  Cricket in Sri Lanka’ which appeared in ‘Sunday Island’ of February 5, has made  some very  valuable suggestions to resurrect Sri Lanka cricket from  the  depths of ignominy it has fallen in recent times. He has made a passing reference to me in the article as follows:  “I remember the BCCSL as it was way back when, with just Rs. 6 million in the  Bank and Neil Perera struggling valiantly and magnificently to hold the fiscal  administration reins at the time. Money was no master then. It was all love and  intent.”

I must apologise to Nigel for letting out a secret he wanted us  at the BCCSL at the time to keep. The year was 1992 and the financial position of the BCCSL was in  dire straits. Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka had just been awarded the staging of  the World Cup in 1996. The facilities available to our cricketers for training  at that time were minimal. The basic requirement of a gymnasium was not  available as the BCCSL budget did not allow any money for this purpose.

Nigel Kerner, who was on a visit to Sri Lanka from his second  home in England, dropped in at the BCCSL office and knowing that we were in  financial difficulties, inquired whether we had a gymnasium for the physical  training of our cricketers. He was shocked that we did not have any equipment at  all.

Being a great admirer of Sri Lanka Cricket and particularly of  Arjuna and Aravinda, he was very keen that we did well in the World Cup and he  immediately informed us that he will get the basic equipment for the gymnasium  at his own cost – one condition being that we should not let the public know the  name of the donor. To this day I have kept this a secret and I hope Nigel will  excuse me for divulging his name after 20 years.

The cost of the equipment he donated was I think over Rs.  200,000. The present day value of this equipment will be around Rs. 2 million. When social values are falling apart all around us, it is  refreshing to know that among us there is a rare breed of decent people, who  would do a good deed but still remain anonymous.

Nigel was a motivator in his own right and I can remember him  telling some of the national cricketers at that time, including Arjuna and  Aravinda, how he would love to see Sri Lanka defeating England. I am sure he  made a deep impression on the cricketers he met.

I do not want to be pessimistic, but the question is whether  there are any persons at Sri Lanka Cricket who have the powers to implement any  of the well articulated proposals made by Nigel. I am afraid to disappoint Nigel, but I think he is blowing in  the wind.

** The writer is former Secretary of the Board of Control for  Cricket in Sri Lanka and was the Manager of the national cricket team when Sri  Lanka won their first-ever Test away from home, in 1995.

Web editor: I can endorse every one of Neil’s comments about Nigel  — Aloysian, Sri Lankan, Englander and Citizen of the World

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