Mesmerising Daya Sahabandu


by Russell Palipane

Well, today, as promised last week, we present the mesmerizing Daya Sahabandu, dual purpose bowler and who, for the most of his career, was the flamboyant T. B. Kehelgamuwa’s opening bowling partner.

While Kehel was a fiery right arm pacie, Sahabandu was a relatively gentle left arm bowler. "Kehel was the best paceman I have played with or against," stated Sahabandu.

When the shine was off the ball, Sahabandu switched to spin and was deadly in both versions.

Sahabandu, who was born in Colombo on March 28, 1940, had his education at Royal College, Colombo, and played First XI cricket for college from 1958 to 1960. Thereafter, he represented SSC for three years in the ‘Daily News’ Trophy tournament, before he moved to the NCC and thereafter to Nomads Cricket Club, where he played under the captaincy of the astute D. H. de Silva, the elder brother of DP and DS.

He said that the best captains he played under were DH, Dhanasirisi Weerasinghe and Michael Tissera.

Most or all great personalities, invariably have had great mentors. And in Shabandu’s case it’s no different. "My best coaches were DH and Stanley Jayasinghe," he told ‘The Island’.

He also had a short stint with the Sebastianites SC.

Nomads were for many years the champions of the Sara Trophy tournament, the then premier first class tournament in Sri Lanka.

Sahabandu played a total of 253 First Class matches and was the first Sri Lankan to capture over 1000 wickets (1,048 wickets, 6552.1 overs, 1919 maidens, runs 14,,870, at an astonishing average of 14.11).

He was employed for 14 and a half years at the Colombo Municipal Council and then for 30 years as an Executive at the Maharaja Organisation. "Now, I am relaxing," he told ‘The Island’ on Wednesday.

Sahabandu was by no means a good batter. In fact he came in at number 11. But a single episode remains etched in his memory. "In 1975, in an unofficial ‘Test’ against India played in Hyderabad, I was sent in as the night-watchman and stayed at the crease for four and a half hours and remained unbeaten on 32." Indeed, a great achievement!

Daya Sahabandu first played for Sri Lanka (then All-Ceylon) in 1969 against the MCC team captained by the late Sir Colin Cowdrey. He also played for the Board President’s XI on a number of occasions. His best figures while representing the Board XI was a match bag of 11 wickets against Madras in a Gopalan Trophy match. The Board XI went on to win the match and the trophy.

(Next Friday – Michael Tissera)

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