Mahinda Wijesinghe, in Sunday Times, 14 June 2020, with this title “A Schoolboy who made the grade and played for the National team”
Stanley Jayasinghe (born 1931) was a household name in cricket in the 1950’s. Educated at Nalanda College Colombo, he captained his school in 1951. He was an outstanding right-hand batsman and a part-time off-spinner as well. He had the distinction of playing for Ceylon – whilst in school.
Two of his team-mates, opening batsmen Carl Obeyesekera and Ashley de Silva were also national players, the latter being a twelfth man. What an honour for the school. Just imagine having three schoolboys who were simultaneously national players. This indicates the standard of school cricket in that era. No wonder there were spectators galore including many a schoolboy who used to ‘cut’ school to watch their heroes in action.
Jayasinghe continued his career in England – in the early 1960’s – by first playing in the leagues and was soon absorbed by Leicestershire county. Indeed Jayasinghe was soon joined by outstanding Peterite left-hander Clive Inman who had the distinction earlier of scoring a double century in their big match against St. Joseph’s. It is no secret that Inman was probably recommended by Jayasinghe to play for the county.
There is an unusual record attributed Inman who smashed a half-century in County cricket in 7 minutes. However that was soon removed from first-class records since the opposition was giving easy runs away in order to obtain an early declaration. Still one has to hit the ball to get runs – no easy task to obtain 50+ runs.
Jayasinghe went on to play domestic cricket for the Nondesripts (N.C.C.) with great distinction and was also respected for his knowledge on pitches. In fact Jayasinghe was consulted in the preparation of the pitch at Khettarama. Jayasinghe was also a member of the National Selection committee and did no brook any nonsense from any quarter.
In 1965 he publicly refused to play against the white-only South Africans who were touring England, after his own experiences of racism playing against the South Africans in 1960. He retired in 1968/69 and became a highly respected coach thereafter and was appointed Manager of the national team that toured New Zealand.
Whilst playing a P.Saravanamuttu trophy match against Nondescripts at their home grounds Jayasinghe played a scorching cover drive off our Bloomfield left-arm bowler Dr. J.G.C. Peiris. The ball was soon hurtling to the boundary to my left. However, being a left-hander, I stopped the ball and returned ball to our wicket-keeper. Whilst changing for the next over, Jayasinghe casually mentioned: “Mahinda, I forgot you were a left-hander.”
The very next over he sent a cover drive to my right that hit the boundary before I could move. That is how the likes of Jayasinghe knew the game. In September 2018, he was one of 49 former Sri Lankan cricketers felicitated by Sri Lanka Cricket, to honour them for their services before Sri Lanka became a Full Member of the International Cricket Council.
Indeed when Ceylon beat India (not in a Test match of course) at Ahemadabad in the mid-1960 Staley played a lead role though not as a batsman.
Ceylon Squad in Pakistan 1966/67
He was also appointed a Manager of the national team that toured New Zealand. A very unusual incident happened during this tour. Due to an injury (a fracture to the finger) to a senior member of the side who happened to be a close relative of the captain, Manager Jayasinghe wanted to send him back home and get a replacement player. A big hue and cry ensued and the players wanted to still keep the injured player with the team.
However Jayasinghe insisted in sending him back home and get a replacement. Finally a replacement player was obtained and he arrived. Now the new player was at the nets but he was not being given a batting turn. Finally Jayasinghe asked the skipper to give the new arrival a batting turn in the nets. Glad to say – although he had missed the first ‘Test’ he came up trumps in the next encounters with handsome innings.