Final recorded interview with Legendary Ceylon, English County and Peterite Cricketer.
By Algi Wijewickrema
Clive Clay Inman (born January 29, 1936 in Colombo died 07th December 2022 in England) former Ceylon Cricketer, represented N.C.C in domestic Club Cricket and later played in English Country Cricket representing turned out for Leicestershire & Derbyshire. He captained his alma mater St Peter’s College, Colombo 04 in 1954 and 1955 and won the Battle of the Saints Big match against St. Joseph’s College Colombo in 1955. He comes from a family of cricketers. His father Harry Inman played for Ceylon teams as an all rounder. Clive had four brothers all cricketers of which Roger played and captained S. Thomas’ College in 1952 (Clive played against him for St. Peter’s College). Clive was a prolific Left hand batsman and also a right arm off break bowler who excelled during his school career, later on, built a name for himself as an outstanding batsman for Ceylon and English Country Leicestershire during the 60’s.
Call it a scoop, call it an exclusive interview, call it whatever you wish, but to this writer it was a scoop, a rare opportunity grabbed with both hands by Sujith Silva (Editor in Chief of Quadrangle), Brain Lawrence (also of Quadrangle) and myself. The personality that Sujith, Brian and I had the extremely rare privilege of having this telephone interview was, Clive Clay Inman, a much talked of cricketer in the 1950s and 60s.
Now in his 84th year, Clive who represented Leicestershire from 1963 to 1971 as one of their top middle order batsmen continues to live in England and we were able to contact him thanks to the modern day communication tools.
Born on the 29th of January in 1936 to Harry and Edith Inman, Clive had been living with his parents and siblings in Wellawatte. At the time he was to be admitted to a school (assumed to be in 1941 – as he could not recall the exact year), he was expected to attend S. Thomas’ College (STC), Mt. Lavinia like his brothers, Earnest, Trevor and Roger, but fate decreed otherwise.
Said Clive, “The entrance exam at S. Thomas’ was a lengthy, two part one commencing in the morning and running into the second session after a break for lunch but by lunch time I had decided not to continue.” He had decided to join St. Peter’s despite his father’s desire to have him enrolled at STC and when his father had found out from the Thomian Head-Master that he had not stayed for the entire exam, he had come home and asked Clive why. And Clive had answered him that he wanted to join St. Peter’s College. “Father and mother then had a chat and father gave his consent and I joined St. Peter’s.”
Let me quote Clive to say what he thought of his decision to join St. Peter’s, “I enjoyed being at St. Peter’s from the time I was admitted. The Rector then was Rev. Fr. Basil Wiratunga, who was a great man. I had no regrets whatsoever as I was looked after well”.
Clive’s cricket at St. Peter’s had begun at the age of fifteen in 1950 as a left handed batsman. He said “I played as a batsman though I may have bowled a little but I always preferred batting to bowling.” He continued “We had Herbert Wittachchi as our team coach but my personal coach was Cyril Ekanayake. He (Cyril) had not been a cricketer of any standing but was an excellent coach and in my opinion no one could match him. He could not bowl but shied the ball from halfway down the wicket, getting me to hit it, 10 minutes of the forward defence and 10 minutes of backfoot defence and so on”.
With all three of his brothers playing cricket for STC, interestingly his brother Roger – the only one to captain STC – had captained STC in 1952, the year Clive played for St. Peter’s under H I K Fernando. Although the brothers were Thomian cricketers and he the only Peterite in the family, there had not been any arguments at home. Clive recalled “When I first played for St. Peter’s, my mother told Roger that if he was bowling when I came in to bat, he should allow me to get off the mark and Roger protested saying he couldn’t do that. But mother insisted saying he’d have her to answer to, if that did not happen. And that was the end of discussion”.
Recounted Clive “My mother was my greatest fan and never missed a match that I played in. My father also attended matches that I played in but not all and was late for some. Once he came late for a match and I was batting and not long after he arrived I got out. At home that night my mother insisted that he either arrives for the match before the start or not show himself till I had got out and that is exactly how it was with my father and his attendance at Preterite matches”.
Although his record score of 204 retired hurt in the Big Match (Joe-Pete) was when he first captained in 1954, he said “My most memorable match was the Josephian-Peterite encounter in 1955 which we won at the Colombo Oval that was packed with spectators on both days.” In that match the Joes had batted first and had been bowled out for a paltry 117 and the Petetites had rattled up 224 in the 1st inning. In their 2nd inning the Joes had done better scoring 150 leaving the Petes 44 to win, which they had scored for the loss of 2 wickets (46/2).
This, no doubt was memorable not only for Clive but for all Peterites as it was a win earned after seven years but more importantly it was only their 3rd win after the two consecutive victories under Dion Walles in 1946 and 1947.
Comparing the 2 Big Matches of 1954 and 1955 under his captaincy, Clive’s attitude was “Whether I scored a century or zero, what was important for me was whether we won or not.”
He recalled how he was detained once for talking in class and when in the detention class after school who walks in but Cyril Ekanayake and upon learning from Clive why he was talking in class – which had been a discussion with Ken Duckworth about the next match – he had been allowed to go home.
Asked to recall some of the teammates who have stayed in his memory he recalled Luckshman Serasinghe, Kenneth and Russel Duckworth, Brian Seneviratne (wicketkeeper), Brian and Maurice de Silva and Ranjith Jayasinghe. He singled out H I K Fernando as a top notch wicketkeeper and a great batsman. The only non-Peterite cricketer he could recall was A C M Lafir of St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota. Apart from the two coaches, Herbert Wittachchi and Cyril Ekanayake, he remembered Rev. Fr. Rodrigo (he couldn’t recall the first name), who had been the Prefect of games then and the groundsman Nomis. About Nomis he even recalled “Nomis would say “Wish I could swim better” because I used to frequently hit the ball into the canal and he had to retrieve the balls from the canal”.
Speaking about the Rector, Fr. Basil Wiratunga, he reminisced “In 1955 before the Big Match Fr. Rector asked me what I wanted if St. Peter’s is to win and I told him we needed bats, gloves and pads for the players. I also requested that the cricketers should be excused from afternoon classes. He said “done”. Even Masters at College used to tell me that I had more influence over the Rector than anyone else. He backed me all the way and at no other school could this have been done. The Big Match win that year was as much a celebration for Fr. Rector as it was for me since it was the last Big Match for both of us”.
When Clive ended his cricketing career at St. Peter’s spanning five years (1951-1955) he had scored 1 double century, 5 centuries and 17 fifties and as captain in 1954 and 1955, earned 4 wins as against 1 loss.
After leaving College, Clive had joined Clots Cricket Club as his uncle was there but later in 1956 had moved to NCC for three reasons (1) he admired the then NCC Captain, (2) H I K Fernando his former Peterite captain playing for NCC at the time and (3) his friend Stanley Jayasinghe being in the NCC team. Making his first-class debut in 1956, representing Ceylon against India at the Colombo Oval he had not been able to make an impression but said that throughout his career he was happy batting and could not recall bowling at any match. However, records show that he has bowled in this match and a few other matches.
Clive represented Ceylon in the Gopalan Trophy matches against Madras, which was the only regular 1st class international cricket Ceylon had before gaining test status. Though Clive’s appearances for Ceylon were not regular he did represent Ceylon in 1956-57 and 1958-59 in the Gopalan Trophy matches, against the touring MCC in 1961-62 and toured Pakistan in 1966-67.
Speaking of being selected to play for Ceylon and not playing Clive reminisced “On one occasion Stanley Jayasinghe had written an article to a newspaper critical of the Board of Control for Cricket in Ceylon or against the South Africans and apartheid and had been omitted from the team to represent Ceylon. I was in England but had been selected and received my contract. On going through the contract I found that Sanley’s name was not there. I called uncle Sara and asked him about it and said I would not come. He said “don’t be a fool” but I stood firm and told him Stanley is the best batsman in Ceylon and should be in the team. So I refused to play for Ceylon on that occasion.”
Once he had moved to England and joined his friend from Ceylon Stanley Jayasinghe, in his first appearance for Leicestershire in 1961, Clive had played against the touring Australian side contributing 30 and 45 not out. However, he had represented Leicestershire in the County Championships for the first time only in 1963 after completing the mandatory two year residential qualification period. His maiden first class century for the County had been in his first County championship year in 1963 against the University of Cambridge.
Asked to comment about his Guinness Record of 50 runs in 8 minutes for Leicestershire, Clive said the record lost its glow when in the next match he got a 50 and helped Leicester to win. But recalling that match, he said he regretted he was not able to hit a six to land in the river beyond the boundary and the fact that Stanley Jayasinghe (another Sri Lankan cricketer of repute), also playing for Leicestershire, being run out for 99 in that match.
Of playing against famous international teams Clive said that he had played against West Indies, Australia, India and Pakistan when they played against his County, Leicestershire. Continuing to speak of cricket against international teams and the bowling he had faced, Clive said “Wes Hall, Charlie Griffith of the West Indies and Dennis Lillee of Australia are some of the overseas cricketers I have batted against. Also while playing county cricket, I have played against some of the great English bowlers such as Fred Trueman, Brain Statham and Frank Tyson. The greatest all rounder for me is Sir Garfield Sobers”. Asked to comment on how he played such great bowlers of his time he said “I just played each ball on its merits”.
I couldn’t resist asking him if he would be able to visit St. Peter’s for its centenary celebrations in 2022, but with regrets in his voice he said “No, my travelling days finished 10 – 12 years ago when I broke both my ankles. I can walk now but with great difficulty and not long distances. But give my best regards to all at St. Peter’s College”.
Of his family, his wife Josephine has passed away fourteen years ago and apart from a son who died when he was small, he had lost another son a few years ago and the only surviving son Andrew, lives in Australia.
Asked to comment about good Sri Lankan cricketers in Sri Lanka (current and recent), Clive picked Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena as exceptional cricketers.
Coming towards the end of our telephone interview Clive said “I refused to be involved with English cricket and always wanted to play for Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), which I still call home and moreover, I ask what could I have done if I was selected to play for England and England was playing against Ceylon”.
Asked for any advice for young cricketers Clive’s advice was “You can’t play without practice. So practice, practice and practice for that is how you can improve”.
On that note of good advice from a brilliant cricketer of yesteryear, we concluded “The Scoop”.
This article is based on exclusive interviews conducted with Legendary Clive Inman, via several phone conferences between 27th May – 29th May 2020 (as Clive Inman was living in England). Presumably, this is the last official interview provided by Clive Inman. Since then writer and Editor of Quadrangle Magazine were in direct touch with Clive until his demise. Clive was also featured in an Interview (whilst being recorded at S.S.C) with Stanley Jayasinghe, where the two friends and cricketing partners were connected with each other for the first time in several decades. You can watch it here https://youtu.be/85V41rVCOvQ
Quadrangle will publish the audio interview of Clive Inman soon. Our sincere appreciation to Old Peterite Mr. Brian Ratnayake (England) for his efforts to get us in touch with Clive Inman and Mr. Andrew Inman (Australia) son of Clive Inman for sharing valuable images of his father. Image credits; courtesy of Leicestershire County Cricket Club, Stanley Jayasinghe, Andrew Inman