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