Bandula Warnapura one of the most successful captains | Daily News

Bandula Warnapura one of the most successful captains

(Continued from last week)

The late Warnapurage Leelaratne Fernando was a Peterite who played rugger. He was the head of the V.D. (Venereal Disease) clinic at De Saram Place. Bandula was the second son of the doctor. His elder brother the late Sarath Fernando a talented bat played under me in 1966.

Bandula came to Nalanda from St Peter’s as a young boy and he was pleased to get through the entrance examination at Nalanda. Strangely enough, Bandula had a barren start in his under 14 career at Nalanda and in that year the Nalanda team was captained by Ananda Jayatillake who later played for Ananda College. In Bandula’s second year his then coach Vaas Goonewardene threw the ball at him and asked him to bowl, he started bowling late outswingers which came naturally to him, and the coach was impressed and asked him to pad up and there again the inborn talent in Bandula was spotted and the rest was history.

Bandula’s father was never a dressing room nuisance; he used to sit under the massive Mara tree which was close to the sight screen and watched the proceedings with his friend the famous actor late Tony Ranasinghe. Those days it was the custom at Nalanda, that the first team cricketers who were hostellers had to guide the under 14 cricketers mentioned Bandula. He further added that they had to speak in English since all the umpires spoke English, so too did the head coach late Gerry Gooneratne. He was in big demand at Nalanda that he played under 14 matches in the mornings and under 16 in the afternoons. Subsequently still at 14 years of age Bandula was absorbed into the first team, he also mentioned that in his era there were no private tuition classes hence they had enough time to indulge in other sports such as football and also swimming at the Wellawate beach on Sundays. Bandula was proud to say that those activities made him an all-round sportsman.

Bandula stated that he played under late Anura de Silva who was the best captain he had played under. Bandula had nothing but praise for versatile Anura who was at ease with any sport he took in be it cricket, football cycling. When inquired about the two Anura’s who were both brilliant all rounders, Bandula was of the view that Anura de Silva was the better all-round sportsman because he was a superbly gifted natural athlete who was built like a mini battle tank. At the 1966 Big Match where I had the good fortune to captain Ananda I caught Anura when he was on 99. He was passing me on his way to the pavilion frothing mad and before the Anandians could mob me Anura had the audacity to say a few choice words which were not included in the Sinhala Dictionary. That was Anura and his temper was short lived and after the match he was the first to congratulate me for holding my nerve and taking that catch which swirled in the wind and I had to run backwards to clasp it with both hands as if my life depended on it. As for the other Anura Ranasinghe, Bandula noted that although not having the all-round talent of Anura de Silva, Anura Ranasinghe was a brilliant all-rounder at cricket, both these brilliant guys had a common problem and that was the liquor problem lamented Bandula. It was a real pity that talented Nalandian cricketers such as late Wasantha Seneviratne (brilliant left hand bat and a lithe wicketkeeper), late Nihal de Silva (a handy allrounder) had to succumb to the evils of drink.

Bandula had an important message to convey to the budding brilliant cricketers. Fame will bring money and with it the hangers on who like vultures wait for their prey to descend on them, Bandula pointed out that one must select their friends carefully.

Bandula named Michael Tissera and D.S De Silva as two of the best captains he played under, Tissera was more orthodox and a good tactician whereas D.S was the more aggressive of the two and used to get the best out of the bad lot at Nomads. Bandula pointed out that Dinesh Chandimal lost his batting form due to the burden of captaincy placed on him and he is lying in the scrap heap as of now.

Bandula was proud to say that he had been invited as joint chief guest with Minister Arjuna Ranatunga for the 90th Ananda Nalanda Big Match. Those days Ananda and Nalanda shared a common ground called Campbell Place and due to this the camaraderie between the players were strong since they used meet at practice on a daily basis.

The big match was played at the Oval and Bandula reminisced that due to the close proximity between the players and the crowd the atmosphere was electric, he also said that when the match was played at a big stadium the players were distanced from the crowd and that something in the air was not felt. The Big Match apart from been called the battle of Maroons. It was also called “Sulohitha Sangramaya” in short the brotherhood of two schools. The game was enjoyed by old boys and spectators alike mused Bandula.

Bandula lamented that the Big Match crowds especially the young old boys and some of them masquerading as old boys also created mayhem, they have become a problem to the general public. He said that the fun should be confined to the grounds, it has still not got to the stage that streakers have been on the scene.

They must set an example by being the leading Buddhist schools. ‘They should not be a nuisance to the public, everything had gone haywire he said and another nuisance was that they had too many bands and the din they created was unbelievable’

Bandula’s favourite team for the 2019 cricket World Cup was India and he said that they will peak at the right time, he also stated that its 70% luck and 30% effort. 


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