Facing Peter May’s MCC Side in Ceylon in 1958

A Sri Lankan enthusiast sent me this photograph of a Ceylon Eleven chosen to face a visiting England Team in 1958. I have sought out background information from two of those framed within this picture ….. and seek more data (and hopefully photographs) from cricketing aficianados with good memories and solid historical sources,

An EMAIL NOTE from Michael Tissera in Colombo, 22 December 2020:

“This was the team picked for the first one day game against Peter May’s MCC side. There was to be a change or two for the second game on the following day. MCC won the toss and sent us into bat. The wicket was softish and the light barely ok. Wickets fell at regular intervals 17, 17, 24, 28, 28 and 40 with Tyson, Loader, Statham and Laker among the wickets, for us to end up 47 for 6 at the lunch break. Lafir14 & Sethupathy 12 n.o. were the only batsmen toenter double figures. I was out for 2 foxed by Loader’s slower ball, going for a drive only to be caught behind. Thereafter it absolutely bucketed down for two whole days so that this matchwas abandoned and the one on the following day never took place.”

An EMAIL NOTE from Chandra Schaffter in Colombo, 21 December 2020:

For some unknown reason the picture of our 1958 team against England has been circulating quite a bit over the last few days and I think Dushy has sent you this.  In actual fact, the 1958 match is nothing great to write about.  It was unusual in many ways because usually, we played the English and Australian team on their way to Australia or England.  It was a one day stop and we played what was virtually a half day game. 

We changed the procedure in 1958, and the English team flew form Bombay to Colombo to play 2 one day games, and then they would catch the ship from Colombo to Australia. 

The Board of Control decided to have two one day games, the first captained by Vernon Prins, the second by C.I. Gunesekera.  Another change was that for the first time, the match was shifted to the SSC from the Oval (I think the terrible riots of 1958 had something to do with it). Anyway the SSC had no real pavilion, and put up a whole lot of cadjan sheds right round the ground to accommodate the crowd.

As you would have read, however, unfortunately, it poured and the match was rained off on the first day after about two hours’ play.  The visitors got drenched and were none too happy with the arrangements.   

I was not selected to play on the second day but I know that the match again was rained off totally and not a ball was bowled.  As you know, October/November are bad months for cricket in Sri Lanka because of the rains.  That is what happened.

One of the things worth mentioning is that Anton Sethupathy’s selection was heavily criticized, and he was booed all the way to the wicket and while he was batting. However, he turned the tables on his detractors, by scoring two beautiful 4’s and remaining not out.  The crowd, in typical fashion, cheered him loudly on his way back.  Apart from that there was nothing of note to report. 

I hope this is of some use. I also happened to play in the 1954 match in Sutton’s team, which of course was played for the full day. ……………Yours sincerely ……………Chandra Schaffter

AN ASIDE from Elmo Rodrigopulle, in the Sunday Observer, 9 June 2013:

“Here is a little anecdote related to me by former Benedictine and Sri Lanka left-hand batsman Anton Sethupathy when I met him during a tour of Australia. Incidentally Sethupathy who is ‘no more’ had the wonderful experience of hitting the great off spinner Jim Laker for three fours in a row when the England team to Australia in 1958 played a one-day game at the SSC which game was ruined by rain.

Here’s the anecdote: Former Commander of the Navy Royce de Mel a keen cricket fan, had wanted Sethupathy to get the autographs of all the England cricketers. Sethupathy had got all of them, but not Trueman’s. Every time he ran into Trueman and requested for his autograph, Trueman would turn his back and refuse. Unable to hold his patience, it struck upon Sethupthy to tell the England Captain Peter May about Trueman’s refusal to give his autograph. ‘Hey Fred, come here and autograph this book’, was the shout from May. A meek Trueman walked up and obliged. So much for his pride. It was a gentleman versus Players situation.

AN ASIDE: Tony Buhar and HIK Fernando walk out to bat on another occasion

AN EMAIL COMMENT fromSanath Lamabadasuriya, 23 December 2020: “This picture [includes] Tony Buhar who opened bowling for St.Josephs college, in the year that Clive Inman  scored 204 retired hurt in the Josephine- Peterite match . The other Josephine bowlers were no push overs either, Chrisantha Fernando ,the captain  opened bowling with Buhar, Rizleigh Rudolph the third pacer and Malcom Berenger, that years school boy bowler of the year. Inman scored his 204 well before the tea break, with 36 boundaries all played along the ground and there were no chances. After about the first 45 minutes there were no slip fielders. The score stands to this day as a big match record and one of the finest innings played at the Colombo oval. Other famous hundreds here were Michael Tisseras hundred against the part West Indian team that carried Wesley Hall and Garfield Sobers as well as Chester Watson. In this match Sobers scored a beautiful century, driving on both sides of the wicket. A. C.M . Lafir opened batting for St. Anthony’s college, Katugastota with Stevens , and they were a very  successful pair in that position.”

Clive Inman at Leicestershire cricket grounds

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