Sports

A tribute
Valentine Obeysekera — a cricketer and gentleman

It is with much sadness that I have to record the death of my dear friend Valentine Obeysekera on February 20. Death came to him with shocking sadness. And that tragedy had to happen on the eve of his 73rd birthday and 49th wedding anniversary, something they had decided to celebrate with family and friends — especially his twin brother Carl here on holiday from USA.

At the Nondescripts CC, which they joined as schoolboys, like me, they were known as the Terrible Twins. Like his brother Carl, their performance on the field displayed elegance. It brings back memories of their opening stands, which was the toast in India when they were on tour. Their workmanlike stance, neatness and brilliant and stylish stroke play were a cure for sore eyes. They were prolific run-getters right from their schooldays at Nalanda, who like their captain Stanley Jayasinghe were well coached by that great mentor and national cricketer, the late Gerry Gooneratne. Carl represented Sri Lanka as a schoolboy against Freddie Brown’s Englishmen on their way to Australia and opened the batting with Mahes Rodrigo. Valentine had to be on the sidelines though equally competent, like the Bedser twins, both equally good, but there was room only for one of them in the Test team.

Apart from his Sara Trophy performances, Valentine played Mercantile cricket for Mackinnons, where he was a complete workaholic with a great devotion to duty and excelling in accountancy and administration.

He had a premonition of death after his last illness —`A0a minor stroke from which he recovered quickly but he never relaxed or rested and went about a normal life till his fatal but quick end. He was a man born to lead through example, not precept. His vitality was amazing, his energy beyond measure. If figures, statistics and his outstanding performances and qualities are ever extracted, it will adequately express his true worth.

A man of peace and contentment, nothing seemed to worry him or his genial outlook in life, but the present state of the country and the political intrigue and the dictatorial methods of one single inefficient so-called leader ruffled him considerably and made him have doubts about certain aspects of human nature. His devoted and wonderful wife Nedra, his only son Kuth, his son's good wife and grandchildren will miss him tremendously.

He had true gentlemanly sporting qualities and his views were given like those of his twin brother with clarity that left nothing to imagination. He was always courteous in manner, cheerful in spirit and he had a keen sense of honour. His encouragement to those who trusted him and his advice to the perplexed were implied rather than given, but always well meant. His presence was a reassurance and a restoration and to have known him for over five decades was a rich experience indeed.

He was my great friend and confidante. To those who knew him and his twin brother as intimately as I did, all this was obvious and counts more than what I am trying to write. I am grateful to him for all the assistance he has given me in my life. This I simply could not and will not forget.

Good-bye my friend we will certainly meet again very soon on another shore.
Harold de Andrado


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