Sylvester Dias’ final journey today


Sylvester Dias

Former Sri Lanka pace bowler Sylvester Dias (76), will be laid to rest today, after an illustrious career, at the Ja-Ela cemetery.

During the 1960s and ‘70s he was known as ‘Typhoon’ Dias, due to his deadly pace and exploits with the ball.

He first played for Sri Lanka, then Ceylon), in 1963 against Imitiaz Ahamed’s Pakistanis. Dias took 4 wickets in the first innings. In his first over, (third delivery), he bowled Imitiaz Ahamed.

From the early 1960s to the 1970s, Sylvester Dias retained his position in the all-Ceylon team as the leading pace-bowler. In 1964-65, Dias was in India with the Ceylon team during their eight week tour. Under the captaincy of Michael Tissera, Sri Lanka recorded its maiden un-official Test victory in this tour.

Although he was a fast bowler who tormented many batsmen, he was always friendly, jovial and a fine human being.

Dias was a consistent performer. He played in the region of 15-17 seasons of Premier Division cricket in Sri Lanka and captured 70 to 80 wickets per season.

After a stint with Bloomfield, he joined Moratuwa SC, where he blossomed into a great fast bowler. In his first match for Moratuwa, he claimed 5 for 20 against the strong University of Ceylon outfit. After his stint in England and on his return to Sri Lanka, in the first match against police, the ‘cops’ found it very difficult to face Sylvester. He returned figures of 7 for 35.

During his professional career at Rochdale Cricket Club in England, he had the proud distinction of playing with sir Garfield Sobers and other greats.

Playing for North Lancashire League Rochdale Cricket Club, once he bowled 25 overs, unchanged. Sobers could not believe it. He asked Sylvester, "man, what do you eat?" Dias said, "I always keep fit. I am very particular about my food. I always take nutritional food to keep my physical fitness. Therefore, I can bowl long spells," he replied. His room-mate in England when he was playing for Rochdale Cricket Club was West Indies left-hander Larry Gomes. Sir Garfield Sobers and former Pakistan captain, Javed Miandad also played in the Lancashire League, during this period.

He played cricket for CTB and later captained the team. He went on to play for Government Services XI in the inter-services tournaments and Nationalised Services tournaments.

Sylvester Dias was born on February 9, 1937. He attended many schools, starting with Holy Cross, Gampaha, St. Anthony’s College, Wattala, Zahira College, Matale, De Mazenod College, Kandana, St. John’s College, Dematagoda and finally, Zahira College, Maradana. He is the seventh in a family of 12 children.

He leaves behind his wife Puspha Ranjani Obeysekera and four sons.

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