By Johnny de Silva
The Invincible St. Aloysius College Galle Cricket team in the 1956 season under the captaincy of Mohamed Anwer carried all before them becoming the unofficial Southern Group champions for the first time. SAC ’56 beat both Richmond College and Mahinda College in their annual encounters. Melvin Dias kept wickets against the St.John’s College Panadura and Mahinda College while I was ‘behind the stumps’ for the St.Servatius’, St.Sebastians’ and Richmond College matches.
St. Aloysius College, Galle 1st XI Cricket -1956
Standing Left to Right: Oswin Silva, Melvin Dias, Nalin Peiris, D. Jayanetti, Vinnie Vedamuttu, Roy Vanderpuut, Shiraz Cassim, Cedric Auwardt, Johnny de Silva,
Seated Left to Right: Carlyle Rodrigo, Vernon Regis, (Coach) Marcus Jayasinghe, (Captain) Mohamed Anwer, Michael Roberts, Lakshman Abeysundera
We defeated St. Servatius’ College Matara by 165 runs, St.Sebastians’ College outright by 5 wickets, Richmond College by an innings and 23 runs, St.John’s College Panadura by 1 wicket on the first innings and Mahinda College by 72 runs in the most awaited encounter of the season.
All players were awarded their Cricket Colours that year in recognition of the signal achievement of becoming the unofficial Southern Group cricket champions and for having played all matches in the true spirit of the game.
Vale; Coach Marcus, Carlyle, Lakshman, Shiraz, Vinnie, Melvin, Oswin, Nalin, Roy are no longer with us but we shall remember them.
A year or so before this snap was taken I was among the lads in the Aloysian cheering party watching the Walles brothers, Anwer, Noel Edema. Somapala and others taking on the mighty teams from Richmond and Mahinda. The cheering squad was led by Royle Barthelot and Percy Abeysekera, (subsequently known, loved and hated as “Pissu Percy”). Among the chants were
“Walles Patau, Goni Goni”
“Gahapan Machan, Boundary Boundary”
Those were memorable moments, among them the century collected by Mohamed Anwer against Mahinda if my memory is on the spot. Mahinda then had the Amendra brothers and both DH and DP de Silva in their team. Anwer, I stress, was an astute captain and a sportsman to the hilt. Our success in 1956 was due in good measure to his guiding hand, with important inputs from coach Marcus. Seniors Carlyle and Vernon were critical elements. As important for our triumphant journey was the fielding with Cedric at slip and one Johnnie behind the stumps taking some terrific catches.
Michael Roberts synonymous in Sri Lanka with his scholarly writing now domiciled in Australia also played in this team as a senior member of Aloysian 1st XI. In his senior years at St. Aloysius he represented the school at cricket, soccer and athletics. In 1956, he scored 39 runs in their win against Mahinda College and 43 against Richmond College whom they beat after 17 years. In this encounter against Richmond College, Carlyle Rodrigo who scored a chanceless 87 runs and Michael Roberts put on 81 run partnership for the 5th wicket and pulled their side out of early troubles as Aloysians were one time reeling with 4 wickets down for 28 runs in their 1st innings. Then Vernon Regis bowled his heart out with a deadly spell of 6 wickets for 19 runs to bundle out Richmondites for paltry 54 runs in their second innings to hand over a famous innings win for SAC. These matches were played in the Galle Esplanade, which is now the Galle International Cricket Ground.
Richmondite Nandasiri Jasentuliyan President Emeritus, International Institute of Space Law and Former Deputy Director-General, United Nations had this to say about this team;
Memories! I played with all of them and 1955 to 1958 and captained with Michael Roberts in 1957. Unfortunately, I was a member of the young 1956 team that got thrashed by SAC. The following year we nearly made amends when time ran out with 30 runs to be made with 5 wickets in hand