An Appreciation of PI Pieris …. Ian to Some, “PI” to Others

Mevan Pieris of S. Thomas College & SSC

Dear Michael, ……  Read with interest Gerry Suraweera’s appreciation of Ian Pieris. Indeed when Arpico beat Lever Brothers in the Mercantile A Division cricket Final in 1976, PI was really happy. I still carry happy memories of this match having captained the Arpico team that year. The whole team ended up at my home that night for drinks and to share a simple meal of bread, butter and meat curry.

It was the custom then for Mercantile cricket champions to play the Rest of Mercantile. The match was played at the MCA grounds and the Rest team was captained by Neil Chanmugam and included most of the Maharaja Organization guys including Duleep Mendis and Sahabandu. It was a formidable Rest eleven. I was overjoyed when the Arpico defeated the Rest team; and of the six wickets I took in that limited over game, Duleep’s prize scalp was one of them; clean bowled with the first ball he faced. These are unforgettable moments that I still reflect upon. As far as I can recall PI did not play this game.

PI was a great cricketer. He played for STC for four years, and in the 1953 battle of the Blues made 123 runs and recorded a massive 5th wicket partnership with Geof Wijesinha, which still stands unbroken. He won his cricket Blue at Cambridge, and played under Gamini Goonesena and was in the company of Ted Dexter then an undergraduate. He scored 40 runs for Cambridge against Ian Johnson’s visiting Australians in 1956.

PI is standing 2nd from rt facing in a Cambridge team captained by Gamini Goonesena

PI batting for Cambridge against Yorkshire

On his return to Ceylon in 1962, he took over the captaincy of SSC from FC de Saram and proceeded to captain the SSC for eight consecutive years until 1970 when he retired from 1st Division Club cricket at the age of 37 years.

After leaving STC, I played one year for SSC in 1966, under the captaincy of PI, before entering the University of Colombo. That year was a most fascinating year of cricket for me to be in a side with several all time great cricketers such as PIP, CI Gunasekera, CH Gunasekera, Malasiri Kurukulasooriya ( Trinitian), Neil Chanmugam, Nihal Kodituwakku, Stanley de Alwis, Anura Tennekoon and Sriyantha Rajapakse. On more than one occasion, PI asked me to put on my pads to go in as night watchman if the need arose, and thanks to God for providing that opportunity to go in and join CI Gunasekera, I was able to bat the next morning with the great CIG, which was indeed a dream of a youngster just out of school. Then of course there were other greats like the famous Dr Hector Gunasekera ( first Ceylonese to have played for an English county – Middlesex ), FC de Saram, Sargo Jayewickreme etc who provided inspiring advice off the field. May the memory of all of these Master Spirits remain sacred in the hearts and minds of all of us who knew them……………. Regards ………………Mevan Pieris

cCEYLON Squad in Pakistan in 1966/67

... PI on extreme left?

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ALSO NOTE

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Filed under child of empire, cricket and life, cricketing icons, memorable moments, performance, Sri Lanka Cricket, tower of strength, unusual people

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