Johnny de Silva
The invincible SAC cricket team in the 1956-57 season carried all before them becoming the unofficial Southern Group champions for the first time. Melvin Dias kept wickets for the St John’s Panadura and the Mahinda matches while I was ‘behind the stumps’ for the St Servatius’, St Sebastians’ and Richmond College matches.
Standing l-to-rt: Oswin Silva, Melvin Dias, Nalin Peiris, D. Jayanetti, Vinnie Vedamuttu, Roy Vanderpuut, Shiraz Cassim, Cedric Auwardt, Johnny de Silva,
Seated: Carlyle Rodrigo, Vernon Regis, Coach Marcus Jayasinghe, Skipper Mohamed Anwer, Michael Roberts, Lakshman Abeysundera
We defeated St Servatius’ College Matara by 165 runs, St Sebastians’ College outright by 5 wickets, Richmond College by an innings and 23 runs, St John’s College Panadura by 1 wicket on the first innings and Mahinda by 72 runs in the most awaited encounter of the season.
All players were awarded their Cricket Colours that year in recognition of the signal achievement of becoming the unofficial Southern Group cricket champions and for having played all matches in the true spirit of the game.
VALE: Coach MARCUS, Carlyle, Lakshman, Shiraz, Vinnie, Melvin, Oswin, Nalin, Roy are no longer with us … but we shall remember them.
A FURTHER NOTE: An year or so before this snap was taken I was among the lads in the Aloysian cheering party watching the Walles brothers, Anwer, Noel Edema. Somapala and others taking on the mighty teams from Richmond and Mahinda. The cheering squad was led by Royle Barthelot and Percy Abeysekera, (subsequently known, loved and hated as “Pissu Percy”). Among the chants were
* Walles Patau, Goni Goni
- Gahapan Machan, Boundary Boundary
These were memorable moments ….. among them the century collected by Mohamed Anwer versus Mahinda if my memory is on the spot. Mahinda then had the Amendra brothers and both DH and DP de Silva in their team. Anwer, I stress, was an astute captain and a sportsman to the hilt. Our success in 1956 was due in good measure to his guiding hand, with important inputs from coach Marcus. Seniors Carlyle and Vernon were critical elements. As important for our triumphant journey was the fielding — -with Cedric at slip and one Johnnie behind the stumps taking some terrific catches.
A NOTE to a Fellow-Richmondite from Nandasiri Jasentuliyana
Memories! I played with all of them and 1955 to 1958 and captained with Michael Roberts in 1957. Unfortunately, I was a member of the young 1956 team that got thrashed by SAC! The following year we nearly made amends when time ran out with 30 runs to be made with 5 wickets in hand! ………………………
Nandasiri (Nandi) Jasentuliyana …. President Emeritus, International Institute of Space Law……..Former Deputy Director-General, United Nations, and Director, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs
A FURTHER NOTE by Michael Roberts, 16 February 2020
In attaching two news clippings from that era let me add further details about the Richmond match …dredged from my memory. I recall walking out to bat when we were in dire straits; but it ws Carlyle who shaped the recovery. Our victory, however, was due to
(A ) Anwer Jawath’s astute captaincy;
(B) our use of what we called “leg theory” at a moment in cricket history when you had no field restrictions behind the line of square leg …. with Roy Vanderputt bowling slow/medium pace left-arm round the wicket towards the batsman’s legs and Vernon Regis bowling right-arm fast medium round the wicket down the line of the body;
And, last but not least,
(C) excellent catching -with Carlyle (or was it Cedric?) and keeper Johnny snaffling two sliding hook shots …. while one Michael at gully calmly pouched a shoulder height catch off the left-handed opening bat with Vernon the bowler;
and (D) Lakshman Abeysesundera — easily our worst fielder –pouching two catches at cover point off Vanderputt when the latter strayed down the vacant off side
LEG THEORY = two fielders on the off at mid-off and cover point;………AND …… seven on the leg: 3 leg slips; deep fine-leg; deep square-leg; short mid-wkt; midon.
PS: I believe one Nandi de Silva, a bright spark and budding hero if ever there was one, was caught by Jayanetti when he hooked Vernon in the air.
POST MORTEM …. the death of leg theory THEREAFTER
Anwer’s leg-theory tactics was nothing like that of Jardine and Larwood’s leg theory. Vernon Regis was medium pace and on those matting-on-turf wickets was nowhere near a threatening Larwood. The leading Richmondites batsmen were mostly outed because they took Regis on and were caught out; while two of their top order were tempted by the vacant of -side and slashed at Vanderputt and sent he ball to one of the only fielders in that vast space.
BUT leg-tthoery was a no-no. The Principla of Mahinda College phoned his Aloysian counterpart and told him in no uncertain terms that they would not tolerate such cricket. So: we cricketers were summoned to Fr Kotaa Peiris’ room with Fr Morelli present and Anwer in position and informed that we would not be deploying that strategy. There was no room for debate; it was an order.
PS : We beat Mahinda that year …. without any leg-theory.
PPS: Both wins, I insist, were fair and square. That against Richmond remains in my memory as a concerted work of genius.
** Note that an earlier version of this pot pourri item can be found in https://quadrangle.lk/the-aloysian-invincibles-of-1956/