Farewell. In Memory of Aubrey Kuruppu

ONE: Hafiz Marikar –Former cricketer Aubrey Kuruppu dies at 74″ …. Daily News, October 2019

Former Thomian, Saracens and University cricketer Aubrey Kuruppu died suddenly in Kandy at the age of 74 yesterday. Kuruppu collapsed at the Royal Maul Restaurant where he goes for his daily cup of tea. He was rushed to the Kandy General Hospital where he was pronounced dead. A postmortem will be held today and his final rites will be decided soon after. Born in Dehiwela on March 11, 1945 Aubrey was a complete cricketer, coach, cricket writer, administrator, an umpire, match referee and an internationally reputed cricket commentator.

He started his schooling at Holy Family Convent, Dehiwela and later at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. That’s where his brilliant academic career began. He had the proud distinction of representing S. Thomas’ College cricket team and obtained the Blue, Black and Blue college colours. For a Thomian cricketer, this is the highest achievement. He played in the 86th Royal-Thomian cricket encounter under S. B. Seneviratne in 1965. His contemporaries were B.D. Reid, G. Balasingham, Anura Tennekoon, S. B. Seneviratne, S. Rajapaksa, Mevan Pieris, J. Rockwood, P. Serasinghe, C.L. de Silva and O. Weerasinghe.

Aubrey also played for the University cricket team with distinction. After passing out, he functioned as the co-ordinator, English Language Unit, and University of Peradeniya. He had a very distinguished career as a Division I player and had the proud distinction of playing against Sunil Gavaskar for the Sri Lanka Board President’s team vs Tamil Nadu in 1972 in the Gopalan Trophy match. He toured Lucknow, India with the State Services team in 1972 and also played for Central Province, State Services teams and led Saracens Sports Club in Division I cricket and Kandy District and Central Province teams in various tournaments.

Aubrey was also a fine cricket administrator. He was the secretary of the Kandy District Cricket Association and was a member of the tour organizing committee of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board for five years. He coached Vidyartha College and Sri Rahula College and one of his products was Asela Gunaratne who went onto play for Sri Lanka in all three formats.

Aubrey’s father was Cyril Kuruppu and mother Linda Wijesinghe. He had a brother Russell who was also a graduate of the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya and four sisters Lynne, Mona, Zulciaka, Christine.

TWO: Michael Roberts

This is a sad moment for me. I interacted fruitfully with Aubrey in the media box at the Tamil Union recenyl during Sri Lanka’s Second Test against New Zealand — as usual in earnest manner witha focus on cricket issues. Sinc he is seven years younger than I am I sigh at FATE”S capricious hand. His departure is Sri Lanak’s loss and more specifically Kandy’s loss. It is apposite that a good solid Kandy hand, Hafiz Marikar, has stepped in and n mourned this sudden departure.

Aubrey and I were brothers in arms when we represented Peradeniya University under Sarath Wickremeratne. Aubrey had a central batting role and I was down the order [playing while serving on the History staff]. He was a steady hand as batsman and equally steady in our exchanges on men and matters whenever we met. I now look back on our dinner together in Galle fort with three cricketiing tragics fromabrod (Colby, Whie and Athe alte Abhiyan) during the last Australian visit.

Aubrey good man Sri Lanka will miss your earnest commitments and your cricketing appraisals.

THREE: AUBREY in the Present Tense –An Appraisal and Tale by Premasra Epasinghe in 2011 …..

The game of cricket and this particular name is coined together and synonymous. He is a complete cricketer, coach, cricket writer, administrator, an umpire, match referee and an internationally reputed cricket commentator, who possesses a dulcet voice and a fine delivery. He is a university graduate (Peradeniya), who did English and Latin for his degree. Later, the brilliant student was appointed to the English Department as a Lecturer.

This gentlemanly cricketer is Aubrey Kuruppu.

Born in Dehiwela to a highly respectable family, his father was Cyril Kuruppu and mother Linda Wejesinghe. He had a brother, Lynne, Mona, Zulciaka, Christine and four sisters. His brother Russel was also a graduate of the University of Ceylon, Peradeniya. He was a Senior Assistant at the university.

Aubrey Kuruppu as a tiny-tot went to the Holy Family Convent, Dehiwela and later to the leading Anglican school in Sri Lanka, S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. That’s where his brilliant academic career began.

“Premasara, my parents were interested in sending me to St. Peter’s College, Bambalapitiya. First they were prepared to admit me to Grade I. Then they said that St. Peter’s College is a Catholic school and as I am an Anglican, they were unable to admit me to St. Peter’s College. Later, I was admitted to S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. I have no regrets,” stated Aubrey Kuruppu.

He was a complete student, who shone in academic pursuits as well as in cricket. He took to cricket at a very early age as a duck takes to water. Then he started playing tennis ball cricket with his brother, sisters and some of the children in the neighbourhood.”My brother was the guiding force. Later, I played junior cricket and graduated to play for the first XI team at S. Thomas’ College,” stated Kuruppu.

He paid a glowing tribute to the wardens of S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, the legendary Canon R. S. De Saram, Davidson and Selvaratnam.the late Arisen Ahubudu, then S. Copperahewa Pinto Jayawardene, Jinadasa and Prof. Vinnie Vitharane, who joined the university taught Sinhala. “Premasara, they were wonderful teachers,” remarked Aubrey Kuruppu.

He entered the University of Peradeniya and did an honours degree in English with Latin and Western Classical Culture as subsidiary subjects.

Aubrey Kuruppu had the proud distinction of representing the S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia First XI cricket team and obtained the Blue, Black and Blue college Colours. For a Thomian cricketer, this is the highest achievement. Aubrey Kuruppu played in the 86th Royal-Thomian, under S. B. Seneviratne. The Big Match was played on 12th and 13th March 1965, at the Colombo OVal, the present Saravanamuttu Stadium. Those who played with him were B. D. Ried, G. Balasingham, A. P. B. Tennekone (Anura), S. B. Seneviratne, S. Rajapaksa, H. S. M. Pieris (Mevan) (opened bowling for Sri Lanka with distinction, a member of the first World Cup team, a University of Ceylon, Colombo Graduate ad a highly qualified academic), J. Rockword, P. Serasinghe, C. L. De Silva and O. Weerasinghe.

The Royal-Thomian ended in a draw. Royal scored 115 and 167 for 8 and the Thomians in the first innings scored 237. The top scores were S. B. Seneviratne (Dr. Sarath Seneviratne) 97 and Anura Tennekoon 40. Aubrey Kuruppu remained unbeaten without scoring.

Aubrey Kuruppu mentioned that he really enjoyed the English lectures of the brilliant scholar, theoretician of the Lanka Samasamaja Party, the late Doric De Soyza. “Premasara, it was a treat to listen to him.” His Latin Lecturer was Prof. Cuthbert Amarasinghe. He too was a fine lecturer.

He played for the University cricket team with distinction. After passing out, he functioned as the Co-ordinator, English Language Unit, University of Peradeniya. He was also the senior sub-warden of the Hall of Residence, University of Peradeniya.

He had a very distinguished career as a Division I player. He played and represented the Combined University teams, (Colombo, Peradeniya) and had the proud distinction of playing against Sunil Gavaskar. Aubrey Kuruppu played for the Sri Lanka Board President’s team versus Tamil Nadu in 1972, in the Gopalan Trophy match. He toured Lucknow, India with the State Services team in 1972.

He also played for Central Province against Mike Denness’ English side in 1973. This match was played at Asgiriya, Kandy. Duleep Mendis and Ranjit Fernando also played for the Central Province team. In 1973, Aurbey Kuruppu represented the State Services team in a three day game against Wasim Rajah’s, Pakistan Under-25 team. Aubrey captained Saracens Sports Club in Division I cricket and also led the Kandy District and Central Province team in various tournaments.

Aubrey Kuruppu is also fine cricket administrator. He was the Secretary of the Kandy District Cricket Association and organised tour ‘Test’ matches. Further, he was a member of the tour organizing committee of the board for five years. He was the President of the Central Province Cricket Umpires’ Association for two years. From 2006 to date, he serves as a match referee.

He is a fine cricket coach. He coached Rahula College, Katugstota and Vidyartha College, Kandy. “Premasara, I was invited to coach a so-called leading school in Kandy. But you know me, I am a man who always helps the underdogs,” stated Aubrey Kuruppu.

Aubrey Kuruppu is one of the best international cricket commentators in Sri Lanka. He commentated for more than twenty five years. I had the proud distinction of commentating with him in many school matches.

Aubrey Kuruppu, in addition to his distinguished career as a commentator, is a fine journalist. Further, he gave updates on the 1998 Test against England and the Tri-Series – England, South Africa, Sri Lanka from The Oval, Lord’s and Trent Bridge for the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation. Unfortunately, the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation has given Aubrey Kuruppu limited opportunities to commentate, which is quite a sad scenario.

2 Comments

Filed under child of empire, cricket and life, performance, sportsmanship, Sri Lanka Cricket

2 responses to “Farewell. In Memory of Aubrey Kuruppu

  1. AN EMAIL NOTE from BEN COLBY in MELBOURNE: I’m so sad to read this, Michael. Truly sombre news.I was always humbled at the time and kindness that Aubrey gave. A lovely man.

    I’m so sorry for your loss, and pray for his family. I’ll go and light a candle for Aubrey tomorrow. As it reads he was an Anglican, I’ll try and find a church of that denomination.” BENJAMIN

  2. AN EMAIL from SOMASUNDARAM SKANDAKUMAR, 15 October 2019: “A gentle soul and a humble intellectual. May he rest in Peace …… Skanda”

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