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Tributes to Ranil Abeynaike: Thomian, Sri Lankan Cricketer, Curator, Commentator

February 23, 2012

 ONE: Ranil’s illustrious innings comes to an end – Lal Guneskera in The Island, 21 February 2012

Former top class cricketer, curator and well known TV and radio commentator and former The Island columnist Ranil Abeynaike (57) died of a sudden heart ailment, last morning (21), at Asiri Hospital, in Colombo. Abeynaike captained S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia in 1973 and was adjudged the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year and Best Bowler. In the same year, S. Thomas’ were adjudged the Best Schools Cricket Team.

A slow left-arm spinner and middle-order batsman, he was in the national squad from 1974 to 1985 and led the Board President’s XI against Australia, led by Greg Chappell. Abeynaike played in the Bedfordshire League in England between 1978 and 1982. During that period, he also represented MCC. He was a member of the MCC.

He qualified as a curator in England and when Sri Lanka gained Test status in 1982, SSC appointed him as its curator and he assisted in preparing pitches at Nalanda, Wesley, Panadura CC, Uyanwatte Stadium in Matara, Air Force grounds, Katunayake etc. He did up the turf at St. Benedict’s too in 2006.

Abeynaike also turned out for Seddon CC in Melbourne, Australia in 1990 and within a week, was offered the job of head groundsman. He also captained and coached Authorn-Naverly CC and was also its groundsman. He was the only Sri Lankan to hold a Recreation Turf Management Certificate.

He turned out for SSC with distinction and was its General Manager cum Curator from 1997 to 2002.

Abeynaike also excelled as a coach and held the Level I and II certificates from the Australian Cricket Board. He coached S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia too, from 2002 to 2008.

He was a knowledgeable cricket commentator and made his contributions in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Abu Dhabi, South Africa, England, the West Indies and Canada, besides Sri Lanka. He was also one time member of the SLCInterim Committee and National Selection Committee.

Abeynaike, a ‘Born Again’ Christian, has gone to be with the Lord, but his memory will linger on.

TWO: Commentator Ranil Abeynaike dies —Sa’adi Thawfeeq in ESPN-criciinfo, 21 February 2012

 Ranil Abeynaike, the Sri Lankan commentator and former first-class cricketer, has died in hospital in Colombo after a heart attack. He was 57. Abeynaike played 14 first-class matches and six List A games for Bedfordshire and Sinhalese Sports Club between 1973 and 1990. He was better known for his work as a television commentator, though, and completed 25 years in the profession during the second Test between Sri Lanka and West Indies at the Premadasa Stadium in November 2010.

A left-arm spinner from St Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, whom he captained in 1973, Abeynaike was also a qualified cricket coach and curator. He played for Sri Lanka in the unofficial Test against Tony Greig’s MCC side in 1977 and played minor county cricket in England. He returned to Sri Lanka to play matches for the Sri Lanka Board President’s XI against West Indies (1979) and Australia (1983).

THREE: A Personal Note from HSM Pieris, 21 Feb. 2012

I am grieved. Ranil was a fine Thomian sportsman who excelled as a cricketer. He was a very good left arm spinner and a useful middle order batsman.

I remember him as an extremely alert young man on the cricket field when he was a Thomian cricketer, as I was helping in the coaching of the team in which he was a member and took a keen interest in him.Thereafter he played in the SSC team during my hay days and was a superb fielder in the gulley position, clinging onto many a difficult catch to my delight.He was also a member of the SSC teams I captained and his untimely departure is a sad loss to me of a team mate.

I recall with nostalgic memory those wonderful moments in the dressing room both during and after matches, where Ranil excelled as a  raconteur with his high pitched laughter keeping everyone’s spirits up.Ranil also excelled as a cricket commentator and writer. He had a superb understanding of the game and delivered the commentaries with extreme clarity and meaning.

“I know that the day has come, and thy sight of this world is lost, and life has left in silence, drawing the curtain over thine eyes. Yet stars will watch at night and morning rise as before and hours shall heave like waves of the ocean, casting away pain & pleasure alike”. —- An amended verse of Tagore.

It was my delight to sit next to Ranil & his good wife at Hasi Obeyesekere’s home coming reception at Waters Edge held a few weeks ago.It was a great opportunity to stroll down memory lane and talk of old times. I enjoyed the evening immensely.

I take this opportunity to extend to his dear wife and brothers my deepest sympathies. Ranil the great batsman has played his innings and now has returned to the pavilion of his Heavenly Father.

May his soul rest in peace

** Mevan Pieris is a former Sri Lankan fast bowler who represented the country in the mid 1970’s and is also a renowned local commentator.

ADDENDUM: Further note from MEVAN PIERIS, 24 February 2012: “I have just returned from the funeral.He was laid to rest with his parents in solemn dignity. The grave side prayers were offered by Bishop Duleep chickera, Revd Billimoria ( sub-warden of STC) and the Revd Suresh Dias Bandaranaike. A few hymns were sung by those present, a hundred or so, including the present Thomian cricket team,in their school blazers to add a bit of colour.Ranil was indeed quite a character in the cricket world to which he had dedicated his life.’

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One comment

  1. A gentleman. I remember the partnership with Duleep Mendis helping Duleep to break the record for the highest individual score in Royal-Thomian 2 day cricket matches in 1972. He was then a fresher and batted well against a very good set of Royal bowlers including Asitha Jayaweera and Jayantha Amerasinghe. Ranil formed the famed Thomian spin trio of the 3 A’s – Abeynaike, Abeygoonewardene and Abeywardene. He also held the record for the most number of wickets in a schoolboy cricket season. That was the year he was adjudged best bowler and schoolboy cricketer of the year.
    I remember the broad based batting stance and fluid bowling action. Indeed his close catching was excellent.
    He enriched a great family. Orville his dad was our Headmaster and later Sub-Warden. Daphne his mum was a very loving lady, mother and wife.
    My deepest sympahies to his wife, – brothers Mohan, Ajith and Amitha and other close family members and friends.



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