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Old 09-04-17, 10:51 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Bertie Wijesinha

From: Mevan Pieris <mevanpieris@gmail.com>
Date: Sun, Apr 9, 2017 at 9:26 PM
Subject: Death of Bertie Wijesinha

Dear Sriyan

RB Wijesinha, Thomian cricket captain of 1939 and College Prefect, died this morning. The body will be at his residence at 14, School Lane, Gangodawila from 9am Monday, 10th April. Burial at General cemetry Kanatta on Wednesday 12th April 2017 after a service at the College chapel.

Mevan Pieris

WIJESINHA - BERTIE (R.B). Beloved husband of Dorothy,​ much loved father of late Maya Pelpola and of Nedra,​ Rohan and Dameshk,​ father-in-law of Ananda Wijeratne and Sharika Jayewardene,​ adored grandfather of Charith,​ late Nishan and of Acushla and Ranoukh,​ expired. Cortege leaves residence No. 15A,​ School Lane,​ Gangodawila,​ Nugegoda,​ on Wednesday 12th April at 3.30 p.m. for cremation at General Cemetery,​ Kanatte at 4.00 p.m



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Old 10-04-17, 01:22 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Sri Lanka’s oldest cricketer Bertie Wijesinha dies at 96

Sri Lanka’s oldest cricketer Bertie Wijesinha dies at 96

Monday, April 10, 2017 - 01:00

Sa’adi Thawfeeq

Sri Lanka’s oldest living cricketer Bertie Wijesinha breathed his last yesterday. He was 96.

Bertie Wijesinha was a household name in Sri Lanka whether it was as a cricketer, coach, writer or commentator, he was versatile in every field.

Wijesinha celebrated his 68th wedding anniversary with wife Dorothy on March 30 and a few days later he was admitted to Sri Jayawardenepura Hospital for pneumonia where he passed away.

In recent years Wijesinha’s health had been deteriorating and he died of old age.

He donated one of his kidney’s to one of his two daughters who later died. He also has two sons.

Wijesinghe played for S. Thomas’ College Mt Lavinia from 1936-1939 and in that period distinguished himself as an outstanding all-round cricketer. Later he moved to SSC to display his skills and then represented his country from the late forties.

His desire to write something about the game saw him take up the post of Sports Editor of the Daily News from 1953-1972 and branch into the field of cricket commentating where he formed a unique combination with another SSC stalwart Lucien de Zoysa providing ball-by-ball cricket commentaries on radio in an era where television was not even hear of. Their vivid descriptions of play enabled listeners to imagine they were actually at the match.

Wijesinghe was a knowledgeable coach from whom many cricketers who went onto wear the national cap benefitted.

Leading the tributes to this great cricketer was former Sri Lanka captain Michael Tissera, a former Thomian cricketer like Wijesinha who benefitted immensely by his coaching. “Bertie was a very fine all-rounder technically he was very good. All his life he coached with the goodness of his heart,” said Tissera.

“Bertie and Derrick (FC de Saram) used to come and coach us when we were playing for Ceylon. He was a competent coach who knew the finer aspects of batting and bowling.”

The Wettimuny brothers Sunil, Mithra and Sidath who all played for the country were coached by Wijesinghe.

“Whatever skills we learnt from cricket we owe it to him. He was a fabulous coach, the best in the business. His knowledge and the way he transferred that knowledge to us was fantastic,” said Sidath Wettimuny the youngest of the trio.

“It was my father who built the first indoor cricket nets in Sri Lanka at the Health Department. He handed it over to Bertie and told him you can use it for your coaching but you must also coach my sons. That’s how we came to be coached by him,” said Sidath. “I came under Bertie’s coaching at the age of 12, but Sunil my elder brother was coached after school.

“Bertie lived a full life and was one of the greatest cricketers produced by SSC and one of the best coaches the country has produced.”

Former Sri Lanka and SSC captain Anura Tennekoon described Wijesinghe as a gentle person who in his own way taught the fundamentals of the game properly.

“He helped me to brush up my technique from school to club level. He was very good at putting the basics right of a cricketer whether it be batting or bowling, that was his main strength,” said Tennekoon.

Another Thomian cricketing stalwart Geoff Wijesinghe, a former editor of the Daily News and Sunday Observer said that Wijesinha was “a perfect gentleman, a strict disciplinarian as a coach and a fine friend”.“I had the privilege of having Bertie as my coach at S. Thomas’, as my team mate at SSC and a lifelong friend,” said Wijesinghe.

“My youngest son Suresh also had the privilege of being coached by Bertie, before he (Bertie) went over to Trinity. When my son scored 40 for S. Thomas’ against Trinity Bertie came over to the Thomian dressing room and complimented him on his batting,” he said.

“Bertie was a Thomian staunch and true who always rallied around the college flag.”

Wijesinha’s remains lie at 15A, School Lane, Gangodawila, Nugegoda (opposite Sri Jayawardenapura University). His funeral takes place on Wednesday at the General Cemetary, Borella.

Legendary cricketer Bertie Wijesinha
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Last edited by sriyanj; 10-04-17 at 01:34 PM.
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Old 10-04-17, 01:33 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default [B] Bertie Wijesinha cricketer nonpareil[/B] Monday, April 10, 2017 - 01:00 Sa’adi

Bertie Wijesinha cricketer nonpareil

Monday, April 10, 2017 - 01:00

Sa’adi Thawfeeq

Bertie Wijesinha and cricket are synonymous. There is hardly a role in cricket this octogenarian has not fulfilled. Wijesinha was the oldest living Sri Lankan cricketer at 96 until his demise yesterday. C Ievers Gunasekara who passed away at the age of 90 in 2010 and Wijesinha were of the same age with Wijesinha being older by just two months. Wijesinha was born on May 24, 1920.

Whenever these so-called ‘Big Matches’ are played between two time-honoured schools Royal and S. Thomas’, the name of Wijesinha is bound to surface for the impact he made as a schoolboy at S. Thomas’ between 1936 and 1939. In those four years he distinguished himself as an all-rounder par excellence and it was due to the lack of international competition during the forties and fifties that cricketers of his calibre failed to get the due recognition and failed to be ranked with some of the world’s best all-rounders of that period like Keith Miller and Vinoo Mankad.

Playing in his first Royal-Thomian encounter at the age of 15 in 1936 is a memory which Wijesinha cherishes very much even today. “We live on those memories. I remember I happened to go in when 6 wickets were down for 65 and Norman Siebel was batting at the other end. When I got out at 57 we had passed the 200-run mark. Siebel went onto score 151 not out,” Wijesinha said in an interview.

“That innings set off my career. From there onwards I never had to look back. I went on getting better and better because the love for the game was always there. It had not so much to do well but to be a part of the team was the greatest joy we had. It gave me a lot of satisfaction and to perform well was a bonus,” he said.

The following year (1937), Wijesinha scored yet another fifty (55) and then proceeded to bowl the Thomians to a three-wicket win taking a match bag of seven wickets, baffling the Royal batting with his right-arm medium-pace and spin. Royal hit back in 1938 to avenge that defeat thrashing S Thomas’ by an innings. Wijesinha’s contribution was 0 and 22 with the bat and two wickets. In his final year (1939) as captain, the Thomians defeated a strong Royal team comprising CI Gunasekara, the Kretser brothers EF and RL and Edward Kelaart by five wickets. Wijesinha signed off in style hitting twin fifties (63 and 70) and capturing four wickets in the match. Wijesinha’s other contemporaries at Royal were Lucien de Zoysa, Pat McCarthy and Sathi Coomaraswamy.

While at school Wijesinha also played cricket for SSC. One of the matches which stand out in his memory is against Tamil Union in the forties. “SSC had lost six wickets and I joined CI Gunasekara and we carried the total to 212. I happened to get a 100 and we managed to get 300 in the end. We won that game and it is one innings that stands out.”

Looking back over the years Wijesinha said the game gave him a great deal of pleasure. “It was an honour in those days to play for the country. We had no monetary inducements and we found it very difficult to combine work and play.”

“My first international match was against West Indies in 1948 and I was teaching at S. Thomas’. When I asked for permission to leave for the match from the warden of the school he said, ‘oh yes, Bertie you can go but you must teach two periods before you go’. I was living in Mt. Lavinia and after teaching two periods I had to rush with my clothes and bag to the main road to catch a bus to go to Bambalapitiya and from there another bus to go to Borella. Then walk from Borella junction to the P Sara Oval (Colombo Oval then). We thought nothing of it in those days, occasionally we got a lift from somebody but it was part and parcel of the days work,” said Wijesinha.

Another incident Wijesinha recalled was when he was employed as Sports Editor of the ‘The Daily News’ at Lake House. “We played in an era for the love of the game. We went through a lot of hardships. Being a newspaperman I had unusual hours of work. I used to play in matches and go back and complete the sports pages.

After playing in an international match I had to return to Lake House and look after the work there and sometimes I didn’t finish till 10 pm. I had to go back the next day and play cricket. We had no transport in those days and we travelled on bicycle or public transport. Even to go for cricket practices I had to take an hour off from work, go for practice and come back and continue the work. It was generally a hard life.”

Wijesinha had a desire to not only play the game but also to write about it. So when the post of Sports Editor fell vacant in 1953 he applied for it and got the job. He held it till 1972 and quit when the establishment was taken over by the government.

“I had a desire to write something about the game which seemed to have been neglected in those days. There were no essays on cricket only the scores and description of play. I felt there was something lacking there which I would like to rectify and when I got the opportunity I seized upon it. The response was very good I never had any feedback so I gather what I wrote was acceptable.”

Wijesinha also coached his alma mater from 1946-1953 and Trinity College from 1971 to 1976 before migrating to England where he spent ten years doing a clerical job at NAAFI (Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes). Along with one of his contemporaries Lucien de Zoysa, they formed a unique partnership providing ball-by-ball cricket commentaries on radio for 30 years on the Royal-Thomian and international cricket matches played by Sri Lanka.

Reflecting on the game then and now Wijesinha said the game had improved in leaps and bounds and it was more professional today. “We played as amateurs entirely for the love of the game. Now it has become professional and so the standard naturally has improved.

“We had an international match once in two years or when a team was passing through. Players like FC de Saram, Sargo Jayawickrama, M Sathasivam, CI Gunasekara, Sathi Coomaraswamy didn’t get the opportunities that the present day cricketers enjoy. If the opportunities were given at the time our cricket would have improved naturally because we were willing to learn. Whatever standards we achieved we were always willing to learn and improve on it so we used to read a lot,” said Wijesinha.

“We just went and practiced there was no coach or support teams. When we stepped onto the field we try to remember what we had read about them, their strong points and so on. The only way of information about the opposition was by reading about them. I would stress that during our time we did a lot of reading. We read everything about cricket that was available and newspaper cuttings of articles written by international writers.

“We sometimes went into a match without having met many of the players in the team. There were times the captain didn’t know the names of some of the players. It was ridiculous the captain hadn’t met some of the players till he got onto the field of play. Once you got onto the field we got to know each other.”

If there is one form of cricket that Wijesinha detested it was the limited-over and Twenty20.

“I don’t like limited-over cricket in whatever form. It is a travesty of the game. Twenty20 is a mockery of the game. It is the greatest tragedy that has happened to cricket. Of course there is a lot of money in it that’s why they are all playing,” Wijesinha said.

“Limited-over and T20 cricket has made bowlers to become more defensive, they are bowling not to get wickets but to stop getting hit and therefore the standard drops whereas in a normal game you try all your tricks to get wickets.

I hate to mention names but see what has happened to Ajantha Mendis. He’s been found out and he is not as effective as he has been because he has been exposed to the limited-over and T20 games. He has to bowl defensively whereas in a normal game he bowls to attack.

“People might say that I am old fashioned then I would say the difference between listening to classical music and to a baila. I am old fashioned listening to good classical music and not liking the baila that doesn’t make me old fashioned, does it? It’s a matter of taste,” Wijesinha once said.

Bertie Wijesinha the cricketer
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Old 10-04-17, 10:31 PM
sriyanj sriyanj is offline
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Default Thomian Cricket Captain and Coach Bertie Wijesinha

From: Prabodha Kariyawasam <pldkari@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, Apr 10, 2017 at 8:08 PM
Subject: Re: Thomian Cricket Captain and Coach Bertie Wijesinha

The last of the greats of the game.What a dedicated Coach he was & he did all that purely for the love of it & not to make money as many others do nowadays.I am so glad I was part of a team from the SSC Ex-co which paid him a visit about a year ago with a contribution the Club decided to give him to help him out.That visit will remain a lasting memory.
May his soul rest in peace.

From: Dhushan Ekanayake <Howzat.dhushan@t-online.de>
Date: Tue, Apr 11, 2017 at 2:16 AM
Subject: AW: Thomian Cricket Captain and Coach Bertie Wijesinha

Dear Sriyan

It is with great sadness that I read this email. I visited Bertie and had a fairly long chat with him and his wife Dorothy in 2012, when I was in SL last. Bertie and my father were very close, my father being his 1st XI vice-captain in 1939 - the year they won the R-T. Bertie remembered him well and spoke very kindly of him, as did my father of Bertie while he was alive. Bertie also signed his book, Love of a Lifetime, for me; chapter 34 is dedicated to my father, George. He was a great man. May his soul rest in peace.

Best wishes


Thomian cricketers pay last respects to Bertie Wijesinha
Daily News Monday, April 17, 2017 - 01:00

The S. Thomas’ College first eleven cricket team led by Romesh Nallapperuma (on left) walk with the hearse carrying the remains of former Sri Lanka cricketer Bertie Wijesinha to the college main gate. The late Mr Wijesinha was laid to rest at the General Cemetary Kanatte amidst a large and distinguished gathering on Wednesday. (Pic by Herbert Perera)

Sunday Observer 16 April, 2017

PICTURES BY - HERBERT PERERA From left: Mrs. Nedra Wijeratne (Daughter), Rohan Wijesinha (Son), Dameshk Wijesinha (Son), Vernon Tissera (a pupil of Berty Wijesinha) paying their last respect.
Sri Lanka’s oldest cricketer Bertie Wijesinha’s mortal remains lying at his residence in Nugegoda prior to the cremation on Wednesday.
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File Type: jpg z_p23-Thomian.jpg (349.9 KB, 1 views)
File Type: jpg z_p24-Farewell-Bertie.jpg (49.1 KB, 1 views)

Last edited by sriyanj; 17-04-17 at 10:33 AM.
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