Tilak de Silva, in Sunday Island, 24 March 2013
Anura (or Anuruddha) Polonowita had three facets in his illustrious career, they were as follows: brilliant schoolboy cricketer at Ananda College, a versatile club cricketer at the SSC and represented All Ceylon, and last but not the least, was The National Curator. ‘Polonowita Sir,’ as this writer used to call him because he coached this writer during his formative years as a budding all-rounder at Ananda College, taught his understudies to be humble even in moments of glory; swollen heads, publicity pranks and playing for the gallery were not often heard of those days.He always stressed the fact that an “Airplane gets smaller as it rises into the sky.” Polons is seated second from right (facing) in the group phot of the Ceylon XVIII that toured India in 1964/65… the only team to win a Test match in India in 65 years of cricket between the two countries
In his era, coming from Ananda College, was not a feather in one’s cap. Those days, they came from either S. Thomas’ or Royal. They were the dark-blue-eyed boys at the SSC, where the ground boys and the waiters fell over backwards to please them. He was clever in not taking the bull by horns and going at an angle with the Pukka Sahibs. He assimilated with them to get what was good to him. As a result, he broke the ice with them and played with the likes of F. C. de Saram, C. I. Gunasekera, C. H. Gunasekera, R. B. Wijesinghe, l. de Zoysa, Ben Navaratne, etc. He was guided in his career by F. C. de Saram.
The game of cricket has paid rich dividends to Anura Polonowita, who was the first Anandian to represent Sri Lanka, in 1960. He has been associated with Sri Lanka cricket for 40 consecutive years in various capacities. He has been the Ananda College, Colombo cricket coach for a stupendous 37 years. Due to his ability in spotting talent and credentials during his period of 22 years, he has unearthed 22 Anandians who represented Sri Lanka in Test cricket. Amongst them are the Wettimuny trio —Sunil, Mithra and Sidat (Sunil being the most talented of them in my book), and two Sri Lankan Captains, Arjuna Ranatunga (the Maestro) and Marvan Atapattu (one of the most technically correct batsmen ever to see the light in Sri Lanka)
Since 2000, Polonowita has functioned as the chief curator of Sri Lanka cricket and the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, the precursor to Sri Lanka Cricket. He was the Chairman, Umpires Committee, Chairman, Tournament Committee, Selection Committee, Vice President, National Coach, and the Manager of the Test and Sri Lanka ‘A’ teams. He was an employee of the Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) for four decades and retired when he held the designation of Director of Sports. During his stint there, he managed over thirty playgrounds (when he joined the CMC, there were not more than a dozen playgrounds). What was remarkable was his connection or nexus with providing sporting facilities for the underprivileged children within the limits of the CMWe sincerely hope that Mr. Anura Polonowita will still have time to render his invaluable services to this Great Game of Cricket.