Remembering Gamini Goonesena: Versatility and Intelligence PersonifiedMarch 27, 2016
A. C. De Silva, in the Sunday Observer, 27 March 2016, where the title is “Gamini Goonesena will never be forgotten”
A gathering of family friends of the past will no doubt look to great names of the past and will undoubtedly bid a grand farewell to a cricketer of the past – when the legendary Gamini Goonesena – that great cricketer came up for discussion in the good old days – say somewhere in early January in 2012. It was the occasion to bid farewell to Gamini Goonesena, one of the greatest achievers Sri Lanka cricket has ever known…….16.02.1931 to 01.08.2011. Former Australian cricketer and allrounder Alan Davidson, spoke glowingly of the passage of time on cricket and no one had anything bad about Goonesena to declare to the vast audience present at the gathering — though there were no religious obsequies on that final day when friends and all had to say! ‘Goodbye’ to the great cricketer Gamini Goonesena.
Gamini Goonesena was born in Colombo on 16th February 1931 and though he had a string of family acquaintances and kept to the game of cricket. Gamini spent his early childhood in Kenya where his father worked out. He returned to the land of his birth of the age of 9 years and attended Royal College, Colombo.
Cricket caught the fancy of Gamini Goonesena at the Royal-Thomian cricket match of 1947 when he was just over 16 years of age. In a book published by him in 1959 titled Spin Bowling he recalled: “I was the smallest boy in my form at school and it wasn’t much use trying to bowl fast- the bigger boys could do it so much better and more successfully.”
Gamini Goonesena recalled in the early days that it was much easy to bowl spinners and he grasped it quickly. Royal College had a great coach in the good old days in Col. F.C. De Saram who had an excellent eye and an excellent talent in spotting cricket talent. He immediately recognised the potential in Gamini after watching him at a practice match almost at the end of the 1947 school cricket season.
Goonesena steers Royal to great win: De Saram, who Gamini Goonesena always acknowledged as his cricketing mentor, insisted on his inclusion in the Royal team in their blue riband annual match against S. Thomas’ despite the fact that he had not played in any of the run up matches up to that time. De Saram’s faith in the 16-year-old paid rich dividends with youngster taking four prized Thomian wickets and enabling Royal to score a great win over the fancied Thomians.