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S. S. Jayawicrama a complete cricketer

Walter Hammond was one of the greatest Test batsman England produced. In 140 innings, Hammond scored 22 centuries. He played in 85 test matches, remained unbeaten on 16 occasions, scored 7,249 runs, with a highest score of 336 not out. He bowled 7,969 balls, for 3,138 runs captured 83 wickets. Although not a Test cricketer, the great Sri Lankan batsman Sagaradaththa Sudirikku Jayawickrama, who scored 56 centuries, had a similar build, personality and style. He was popularly known among the cricketing fraternity as S. S. Jayawickrama or Sargo Jayawickrama. In late 1930s he had the proud distinction of captaining Ceylon.

Born at Amaragiri Walauwa, Galle on January 10, 1911, as the third son, he was the 11th in a family of 12. His father was an interpreter Mudliyar. When he was transferred to Kegalle, little Sargo began his schooling at the Kegalle Convent. Later, Jayawickrama family settled in Panadura and Sargo Jayawickrama gained admission to Royal College, Colombo.

He played for Royal First XI in 1927 as an under 16 player and captained the First Xi in 1930.

In his first Royal-Thomian match in 1927, he played under H. E. Wijetunga and scored three runs and 32 runs. In this match, number eight Thomian batsman Dudley Senanayake ( who later became Prime Minister) remained unbeaten with 48. The 48th Royal-Thomian recorded a six-wicket win for the school by the sea. M. Abeykoon captained S.

Thomas’ College.

Senanayakes sent to the pavilion

In the 49th Royal-Thomian, S. S. Jayawickrama captured five wickets for 25 runs in the second essay, including that of Dudley Senanayake for 66 runs. This match which ended in a draw, was played on 23rd and 24th March 1928, at the SSC ground.

In the Jubilee Match (50th) played on 14, 15, 1929, at the SSC grounds, S. S. Jayawickrama took the wicket of Dudley Senanayake’s brother, Robert Senanayake in the second innings for two runs. In the first innings he scored 46 runs. Royal won the match by an innings and 67 runs.

After leaving school, Sargo joined SSC and gained employment at the Rubber Control Department in 1931. He got national cricket colours in 1932. Against India, he scored a brilliant 130. In 1940, Sargo recorded 132 against Bengal C.A. Calcutta. His highest score 238 for SSC was against Bloomfield.

Col. F. C. De Saram, his bosom friend and contemporary paid the best compliment to this great cricketer in early 1930s, when he scored a brilliant century against the mighty Australians in England. He scored 148. When BBC interviewed Saram he had this to say, "I was thinking of Sargo Jayawickrama. If he had played against the mighty Australians, what a plight that Aussies would have faced. Sargo would have thrashed them to all corners of the park. Australians were lucky that he did not play against them." Sargo was undoubtedly one of the best attacking batsman in Ceylon. Unfortunately, Ceylon did not play Test cricket at that time.

The Good and the Great

There is a difference between good players and great players. Great players can improvise their shot selection. Good players rely on bad balls, while the great players take good balls and turn them into bad balls. They find gaps and send the ball through them without trouble. To lesser mortals it looks a challenge, but to a great player it is normal. Sargo Jayawickrama belongs to the category of great players.

Team work is the ability to work together toward a common vision or the ability to direct individual accomplishment towards organisational objectives. It is what allows people to attain unbelievable results. Sargo was a great team men, who always put the country before self. He was always a thorough gentleman and a mild-mannered personality.

Unassuming, Jayawickrama was a humane gentleman. While batting he wore a "Khaki Toppee", with a chin strap firmly secured. In the good old days there were no helmets. He always maintained his cool. They say that on one occasion, in India when he was hit by Mohamed Nizar, the Indian pace bowler, he fell. He told his batting partner "Derrick, I want to thrash the bloke." Sargo hammered Nizar for a six and four fours in that over. He was a fearless batsmen, who was prepared to face a challenge.

Sargo, the charming and lovable personality captained SSC and Ceylon against MCC, Australia, India, and Pakistan. He took teams to India and Pakistan.

For the yeoman service Sargo Jayawickrama rendered to Sri Lanka cricket, he was awarded the M.B.E.

This great gentlemanly cricketer, had two daughters and three of his nephews played cricket at the highest level. Sargo passed away on

February 15, 1983.

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