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DD! The Mahindian who penetrated the Colombo Domination of Lankan Cricket

May 21, 2015

Anonymous Friend, courtesy of The Nation, May 2015

The earliest sportsmen who brought honour to Galle were mainly cricketers. There are several of them who did much for cricket and especially to cricket of the South. Among them Douglas Dias Wikramanayake Jayasinha – affectionately known as “DD”, stands out as the first Southerner to play for the All Ceylon team at a time when the team was made up of Europeans and the elite of Colombo. 

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DD’s father who was the Headmaster of Mahinda College 1917-1938, for well over 20 years played for Richmond College in late 1880s, during the Rev J. H. Darrell’s time and his brother Robert captained the Richmond team on two consecutive years during the Rev W. J. T Small’s time. ‘DD’ had a stepbrother and two elder brothers and all of them represented Mahinda College. His stepbrother Sonny Gunasekera, and his own brother Felix and he captained the school from 1934 to 1936. His other brother Marcus was deprived of his Captaincy due to his standing ground for a wrong doing by the master in charge at the time. Nevertheless, he played under his younger brother ‘DD’s captaincy. Apart from the Jayasinhas the family produced several more cricketers of repute. Albert’s sister Ana’s two sons Hugh and Basil Gunasekera both played for Mahinda College and the latter for Royal in later years. 

During DD’s career at Mahinda he scored six centuries and a dozen of fifties and also captured nearly eighty (80) wickets. He was the Head Prefect of Mahinda and represented the school in soccer as well. He was a left hand batsman and an intelligent right arm bowler and a good slip fielder. As an all-rounder, he got his first break as a schoolboy in 1935, when he played in the ‘combined colleges XI’, against the touring “Indian University Occasionals”. Playing for Galle CC he notched up four consecutive centuries in the Premier Daily News Trophy matches culminating his selection to play for All Ceylon under the late S. Saravanamuttu against New Zealand and on October 16, 1937 he won the all Ceylon Cap and played against India in 1945. 

DD, having left school played for the Galle CC, then the Singhalese Sports Club, and Moratuwa Sports Club joined the Education Department and continued with his cricket representing and captaining the Education Department and the Moratuwa Sports Club, perhaps the first non-Moratuwa player to captain the club. He was a national selector from 1961 to 1973, the last ten years as Chairman; all the while being a club cricketer. He holds a record for being the longest serving Selector Board Chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket, then known as the All Ceylon Cricket which goes on to show the respect and regard the cricketing fraternity of the country had for his integrity and commitment to the cause. 

There is an anecdote – “when the late Robert Senanayake, the Chairman of the Board of Control for Cricket approached ‘DD’ with a list of players that he wanted to include in the Ceylon team, ‘DD’ has told him ‘Robert, you sit and select the team’ and Robert Senanayake has torn the list then and there and put the pieces of paper in his coat pocket. Senanayake never approached ‘DD’ with any propositions thereafter”. That was DD’s uprightness. 

He continued to play club cricket with distinction even as the Chairman of the All Ceylon Selection Committee. He was also called ‘Dougie’ by his numerous friends and was also a good tennis player and played for the Education Department which he served for nearly 40 years before being promoted to the Ceylon Administrative Service, the former Ceylon Civil Service. Many are the ‘firsts’ that stand to his credit that cannot be listed in a short article of this nature for want of space. Had he be living today he would be 100 years today! –

See more at: http://www.nation.lk/edition/letters/item/40724-cricketing-fraternity-held-him-in-high-esteem.html#sthash.Do289gYY.dpuf

ADDENDUM: Marcus Jayasinghe was my coach at St. Aloysius in the mid-1950s — a great gentleman and guide  he was too. I also had the fortune to play against the redoubtable duo of DD and one Charles when they represented the Education Department against an University of Ceylon B side — quite dogged  cricketers even as they aged. That bugger Charles even took a shoulder high catch on the run on the long on boundary as I was hitting my stride. Shucks!!

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