Lucien De Zoysa: Gentlemanly cricketer


Two great cricketers who represented Ceylon in the late 1930s up to the 1950s, Lucien De Zoysa and Bertie Wijesinha who later took to delivering cricket commentries, were not only complete gentlemanly cricketers, but they were similar to John Arlott and Alan McGilvery, (world renowned commentators).

The two of them possessed different styles of delivery. They very clearly painted a picture of a match in our minds with their brilliant, fantastic radio commentaries.

Bertie and Lucien became household names. They are inseparable like the famous Curd and Honey in Sri Lanka. It was a treat to listen to these two knowledgeable commentators.

Some of us, who were educated in the English medium were very fortunate to listen to these two reputed, knowledgeable commentators. Way back in the early 1970s, there was an international cricket match in progress at the then Colombo Oval (Saravanamuttu Stadium, Wanathamulla), Colombo.

The two English commentators, Bertie WIjesingha and Lucien De Zoysa were commentating, seated on top of the gantry or the ‘Commentary Box’.

During the lunch interval, the two English commentators, had a very friendly chat with me.

"Epasinghe, you do the Sinhala commentaries under very difficult conditions. We ae aware that there are absolutely no facilities for you guys. You don’t have a chair to sit and no scorer. I am going to take up this matter with the Radio Ceylon authorities and tell them to provide the facilities given to the two of us. I will definitely take up this matter with my good friend, Livy Wijemanne," stated Lucien De Zoysa.

These gentlemen are great human beings. They always stood for fairplay and justice. They wanted everyone to be treated equally.

First and foremost, I was thrilled and excited that two great Ceylon cricketers – had spoken me. This was an unforgettable moment in my life. I always admired them.

These two kind hearted gentlemen, spoke on our behalf, regarding our rights and this paved the way to construct a separate box, by Radio Ceylon, later for Sinhala cricket commentators.

Bertie Wijesinaha and Lucien De Zoysa treated us so well. They recognised as and appreciated our services. Unfortunately, these type of gentlemen are a rare breed in society today.

Lucien De Zoysa hails from a highly respectable family. He was a tremendous person in one, flamboyant, colourful, a cricketer and a highly gifted playwright and a dramatist of repute.

He was literary born at the school by the sea – S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, but grew up and blossomed at Royal College, Colombo.

In 1932, on the eve he was to play for the Under-16 team of S. Thomas’ College, he was reluctantly shoved into Royal College. Within a few years, he was pitted against one time bosom pals at ‘Esto Perpetua’. The Thomian’s loss was Royal’s gain.


Lucien De Zoysa played for Royal in the 56th Royal-Thomian on 20th and 21st March 1935 at the NCC grounds. He played under A. N. Dharmaratne’s captaincy. The Thomians were led by Donald Fairweather. Lucien De Zoysa opened batting in this big match and scored 15 and 44 respectively. Thomians won this Battle of the Blue by 153 runs.

The partnership of the ‘Two Great Buddies’ Lucien and Bertic began in the 1930s. The two of them – R. B. Wijesinha played under Donald Fairweather and in the Royal-Thomian, played at the NCC ground on 18th and 19th Mrach 1936, R. B. Wijesinha coming in at number eight, scored a brilliant 57. He was caught by F. H. De Saram off the bowing of S. Anthonisz. L. E. De Zoysa (Lucien), opened the batting and scored 27 and in the second essay remained unbeaten on 21. Bertie Wijesingha’s bowling figures were 18-2-42-0 and 6-2-5-0.

Lucien De Zoysa’s figure were 5-0-14-0 and 3-0-16-0.

Bertie scored 55 runs batting at number four in the first innings and in the second innings he was run out for two runs,

In the 58th Royal-Thomian played on 12th and 13th March 1937, at the NCC grounds. Bertie who opened the bowling for the Thomians finished with figures of 15-3-33-3 and 23-1-67-4. The Thomians won this Big Match by two wickets. M. Sivanathan captained Royal and W. Jayatileke captained S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia.

Bertie Wijesinha had the proud distinction of captaining S. Thomas’ College in 1938. The Battle of the Blues was played at the SSC grounds, Colombo and Royal won the match by an innings and 87 runs.

Royal 351 for 7. (P. C. D. McCartny 81, A. I. Macan Marker 86, R. H. Aldons 57)

STC MTL 112 and 152.

Joins SSC

On leaving school, Lucien De Zoysa and R. B. Wijesingha joined SSC and played together for many years. Lucien De Zoysa was a shrewd leg spinner while R. B. Wijesingha was a medium pace bowler, and a good all-rounder.

Lucien and Bertie played for SSC under great captains such as Dr. C. H. Gunasekera, Sargo Jayawardene, and F. C. De Saram. Some of the famous players who played with Lucien De Soysa and Bertie Winesinha were L. D. S. Gunasekera, W. L. Mendis, Ben Navaratne, Mahes Rodrigo, A. H. Gooneratne, Farlie Dalpathadu, Henry Goonaratne, F. C. De Saram, Sargo Jayaratna, C. H. Gunasekara, L. S. Jayasundara and Hector Perera.

Best bowler – Tour of India

In the 1944-45 tour of India, by SSC, Lucien De Zoysa was the main wicket taker.

Playing against the Ranji Trophy champions, the wily right arm leg-spinner, Lucian De Zoysa, was at his brilliant best and had a haul of six wickets, missing a hat-trick by a whisker. Lucien De Zoysa captured the wicket of Indian Test great Vijaya Hazare (Tests - 30, innings - 52, n.o. – 6, Runs 2192, highest – 164 n.o., Average – 47.65 – 7x100, 9x50s, 11 catches – balls bowled 2640, runs - 1220, wickets - 20) G. W. Mohamed (Tests - 8, Innings – 15, n.o. – 0, Runs 166, Highest 34, Average - 11.06, Catches – 3, Balls bowled – 77, Runs – 24, Wickets - 2).

The catch offered by Nimbalkar was surprisingly grassed by the usually safe and sure Fairlie Dalpadathu. That’s part and parcel of the game. Fairlie was one of the best fielders produced by Ceylon.

Lucien’s magic...

Lucien De Zoysa was the first local player to capture six wickets in an international, when Ceylon played Pakistan at Karachi in 1950. On this tour, Lucien ws the most successful bowler. The other bowlers who performed well were C. Dharmalingam, Sathi Commarasamy, Fairly Dalpadathu, R. B. Wijesingha (Bertie) and young Gamini Goonesena, the fresher from Royal.

In the 69th Royal-Thomian played at the SSC grounds, Gamini Goonesena returned figures of 30-10-44-7 and 17-4-36-3, for a match bag of 10 wickets for 80 runs. This match was played on 12th and 13 March, 1948.

T. Parathalingam captained Royal while the Thomians were led by S. J. Thambiah.

Lucien De Zoysa played against India, Pakistan, Australia and West Indies with great distinction.

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