Chrisantha de Silva

A versatile cricket administrator

Chirsantha de Silva was the live-wire of Moratuwa Cricket in the 1980s; a lot of us benefited from his leadership, generosity, and hard work. In those days, the Moratuwa Stadium was used by the Moratuwa Sports Club. Club cricketers practiced on well-prepared center wickets during weekdays and, on weekends, we played cricket in front of thousands of fans.

The club membership fee was minimum those days and the clubhouse bar and canteen didn’t generate much profits. It was Chrisantha de Silva who poured in money for almost everything and provided the much-needed leadership to the Moratuwa SC.

During that period, the town of Moratuwa produced so many talented cricketers to the country. We had so many highly talented cricketers from Prince of Wales (POW), St. Sebastian’s College, and MoratuVidyalaya playing for Moratuwa SC and other clubs in Colombo. I remember the SSC strike blower back then was POW fast bowler Sripal Silva, while Roger Wijesuriya was the best young left arm spinner in the country.

Under Chrisantha de Silva’s leadership, the club organised an annual fixture of Moratuwa XI vs. the rest of Sri Lanka cricket matches at the Moratuwa Stadium in the 1980s. That match was a reflection of having so many talented cricketers at Moratuwa at the time.

One of my closest friends, Jayantha Perera, who coached POW, used to tell me a lot of stories about Chrisantha and his immense contribution to Moratuwa cricket. Chrisantha de Silva spent millions of rupees on cricket and cricketers, expecting nothing in return. In the 1980s and 1990s, Moratuwa produced many top cricketers and was also home to so many famous singers and musical bands.

We had the most furniture shops in the country and some of the highest quality bakeries. I think Moratuwa had the most number of liquor outlets in the country as well, at the time. Our beautifully maintained cricket ground hosted one-day internationals over a period of 10 years, as well as four test matches, thanks to the hard work of Chrisantha de Silva. Australian great Alan Border scored his last test century at the Moratuwa Stadium in 1992 and, in 1993, Jonty Rhodes defied Muralitharan to score an unbeaten101 to keep the series alive on the final day of the test match.

I met Chrisantha at the Sri Lanka Cricket Headquarters two years ago, after 25 long years. We chatted for over an hour about the good old days, his family, and the Moratuwa SC. I thanked him for his immense contribution to Cricket at the Moratuwa SC. He financially supported so many talented cricketers and non-cricketers to be good citizens. He fought so hard to get recognition for the sportsmen and sports women of Moratuwa.

Chrisantha was proud of his three daughters, and he loved his wife a lot. He was a loving and caring husband and a father to his wife and daughters. He was very happy that I obtained an engineering degree and had many questions about my tertiary education. Chrisantha de Silva donated a lot to charity, year after year. It was never easy to manage emotional and volatile people of Moratuwa those days, but Chrisantha successfully managed the volatile Moratuwa SC for a long period.

On October 24, last year, we lost a selfless philanthropist who was instrumental in promoting cricket at Moratuwa. Chrisantha de Silva is no more, but his contributions to Moratuwa cricket and society will live in our hearts forever.

Mahendra Dissanayake, Former Moratuwa SC Cricketer