New Manager - A gentleman par excellence

I was extremely happy to learn that Anura Tennakoon has been appointed as Manager of the Sri Lanka Cricket team. Anura is eminently suited for this post for several reasons. He has a wealth of experience as a player, captain of the national team, administrator and manager and this experience will stand him in good stead in guiding the Sri Lanka team towards greater heights in the future.

He has had a successful tenure as the Manager of the Sri Lanka ‘A’ Team for nearly five years up to 2009 and he will have a good knowledge of the young talent that is knocking at the door for national recognition. As an administrator, he has held the posts of Hony Secretary and Chief Executive Officer of Sri Lanka Cricket.

As a player, he ranks, in my opinion among the ten best batsman produced in this country during the last 50 years. As a batsman of the classical mould he has had few equals during this period. In more recent times perhaps Marvan Atapattu and Mahela Jayawardena will fall into this category, although Mahela tends to depart from this nomenclature as a result of the non conventional shots like the reverse sweep he plays at considerable risk.

Unfortunately for Sri Lanka Cricket, Anura was born about 15 years too early. I would reckon that the team that Anura captained in the mid 1970’s was as good as our team that won the World Cup in 1996 under Arjuna Ranatunga’s captaincy.

Anura had as his contemporaries, Michael Tissera, David Heyn, Ranjit Fernando, Duleep Mendis, Roy Dias, Sunil Wettimuny, B.Warnapura, D.S.de Silva, Tony Opatha, H.S.M. Peiris, Lalith Kaluperuma, Ajith de Silva, Romesh Ratnayake and a host of other cricketers of outstanding talent.

Unfortunately however, in spite of this wealth of talent we were unable to obtain Full Membership of the I.C.C. mainly due to the Veto Powers enjoyed by England and Australia who time and again voted against our application for Full Membership.

The following short notes will indicate the stature of Anura Tennakoon as a batsman of the highest class:

The West Indies team led by Clive Lloyd which included Gary Sobers, Wes Hall, David Murray, Basil Butcher etc. toured Sri Lanka in 1967. In the only unofficial Test played with Sri Lanka they totaled 549 in the 1st innings. Sri Lanka had scored 400 runs in the 1st innings, with N.Chanmugam 79, M.Tissera 52, David Heyn 69 and A. Tennakoon 18 being the main scorers. In the 2nd innings, Sri Lanka scored 163 for 3 with Anura Tennakoon being unbeaten on 54.

When the formidable Indian team toured Sri Lanka in 1974, Anura Tennakoon scored 131 not out and 169 not out in the two unofficial Tests that were played. In the 1975 World Cup, in the Australia vs Sri Lanka match, Australia scored 328 and Sri Lanka replied with 276 with Sunil Wettimuny 53, M.Tissera 52 and A.Tennakoon 48 being the main scorers.

Anura Tennakoon was the first Cricketer in Sri Lanka to score 1000 runs in unofficial Tests, with centuries against West Indies, India and Pakistan. I have no doubt that the Sri Lanka Cricket team will benefit immensely from the experience and advise that Anura Tennakoon wiil bring into the team and also from the knowledge of this gentleman par excellence.

(This writer is a former Hony. Secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka and the Manger of the National Cricket team.)

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