West Indian Maestros at Whistle-stop Cricket in Ceylon in the 1960s

Trevor Jayetilleke, in The Island, 14 March 2020, with this title West Indies cricket teams of the 1960’s and Frank Worrell”

Apropos the letter written by Mr. K. K. S. Perera and published in the Opinion Columns of your journal of the 4th March, please permit me to add my comments/observations to the facts expressed by Mr. Perera.

I too would like to confirm that when the West Indies cricket team on their way to Australia for a Test Series in 1961, or while returning (I am not sure which) agreed to play a whistle-stop match in Colombo on the 28th February 1961. This was labelled as the “Mirror” match and consisted of an unusual mix of West Indies and Ceylon cricketers.

Frank Worrell (later knighted), though being the captain of the Windies team opted not to play, for reasons unknown, but six West Indians of that famous side, namely Rohan Kanhai, Garfield Sobers, Wesley Hall, Seymour Nurse, Conrad Hunte and Chester Watson were to comprise part of the ‘Ceylon Daily Mirror XI’. The others being K. M. T. Perera, H. I. K. Fernando from Ceylon, and also former Josephian captain late Priya Perera, Tissa de Zoysa (also of St. Joseph’s, who was 12th Man though) and Yatagama Amaradasa schoolboy cricketer of Ananda College.

The captains of the respective sides were the late Conrad Hunte for the ‘Mirror’ XI’ and late C. I. Gunasekera for the CCA President’s XI. There was also the curious invitation to one C. Marson, who was a passenger on the ship “Straighten” carrying the Windies team, who probably was an avid cricket fan or possibly a cricketer of some repute. to play alongside the ‘Windies Six’ for the ‘Mirror XI’.

The match was played a the Colombo Oval and the entire crowd got their money’s worth watching these famous players of both sides in action!

Briefly, there was some magnified batting displays by Kanhai (60), who then retired, Sobers (58) and Wes Hall clobbering (44) in no time, enabling Hunte to declare the innings closed at 305 for six wickets. The Presidents’ XI at close were 180 for seven wickets bolstered by a scintillating, blistering century by Michael Tissera (102 not out), which was really worth seeing!

Wesley Hall, with a 30-yard run-up, and with blistering pace, had the wickets of opener Sarath Silva bowled for naught, Lasantha Rodrigo lbw for one and captain C. I. Gunasekara brilliantly caught by Priya Perera in the slips off a thunderbolt! He finished with 3 for 37.

Though it could be termed an exhibitions match of sorts it was indeed memorable to watch.

Brief Scores:

Daily Mirror XI – 305 for six declared …….(C. Hunte 50, C. Watson 22, R. Kanhai 60 (retired) S. Nurse 31 (retired), G. Sobers 58, W. Hall 44, S. Yatawara 2-41)

CCA President XI – 180 for seven at close ……..(M. Tissera 102 not out, W. Hall 3-37)

Going on to the other match referred to, that is the three day unofficial Test match between West Indies and Ceylon from the 21st -23rd January 1967, Frank Worrell had by then retried having been knighted and the Windies were led by Garry Sobers. It will be remembered as a very high-scoring match, ending in a draw. By the way, Mr. Perera was correct in surmising that it was Nihal Kodituwakku who opened for Ceylon and not T. C. T. Edwards. He opened with Fitzroy Cozier and scored a gutsy 33 runs.

Neil Chanmugam batting …. Note the scoreboard details

This match would also be remembered for the record last wicket stand of 110 for Ceylon’s last wicket by late Neil Chanmugam (72) and late Ian Pieris (46 not out) with some blistering hitting!

Brief Scores:

Ceylon 400 (M. Tissera 52, Lionel Fernando 48, David Heyn 69. H. I. K. Fernando 42, King 2-23, Nurse 2-36) and 163 for three at close (Lionel Fernando 72 not out, Anura Tennakoon 54 not out)

West Indies 549 for eight declared (Butcher 152, Lloyd 138 Sobers 115, Sarath Wimalaratne 4-141)

**** *****

the young Garfield Sobers presents the venerable “Satha” with a memento — such was the respect for Satha’s batting skills in West Indian circles

COMMENTS

Eardley Lieversz in Australia, 16 March 2020: “I was there for both games. I loved the batting of Nurse.”

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Filed under child of empire, cricket and life, cricket tamashas, cricketing icons, memorable moments, performance, player selections, unusual people, unusual statistics

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