Thomians in Praise of Mevan Pieris

This year the Chief Guest at the annual Thomian Prefects dinner in March was former All-Ceylon opening bowler H S M Pieris (Mevan),a rare sportsman who combined Sports at the highest level with academic brilliance.

Mevan Pieris: Joined STC, Mt Lavinia lower school in 1954 when canon RS de Saram was warden. Won cricket and tennis colours and was a member of the 1964 team which won the Royal-Thomian match. In 1965 made a blistering century against Ananda College in only 86 minutes with 14 boundaries, when the Thomian top batting had collapsed. This innings remains as the fastest century to have been ever made at Mount Lavinia. Was awarded public schools tennis colours having defeated Alan de Costa of St Joseph’s in the semi-finals after a grueling match which made STC public schools champions in 1964. Received the Leonard Arndt memorial prize for the cricketer with the best record in studies and sports. Was head – prefect of Stone House, and a College Prefect.

Entered the science faculty of the University of Colombo and graduated with a BSc degree and excelled in sports as well. Captained the university cricket team in 1969/ 70 season with outstanding success, scoring 550 runs and taking 50 wickets that season in the Division 1 cricket tournament. Was selected to represent the country against the visiting MCC team in 1970 and in the Gopalan Trophy encounter against Madras which followed soon afterwards, representing the Board of Control team captained by Anura Tennekoon, and had the distinction of scoring a half century in both innings and taking five wickets, all being clean bowled, including Satwender Singh on 87 runs with Madras requiring only 8 runs to win. The university conferred colours on him, in cricket, tennis and hockey, and awarded the Leslie Handunge trophy for the most outstanding sportsman in the entire university.

As an outstanding in-swing bowler he represented the country at cricket during the period 1970-75, in unofficial test matches and in limited over matches against MCC, India, Pakistan, West Indies, Australia, Holland and Denmark, and was one of the most successful Sri Lankan bowlers. Among his prize scalps were, Keith Fletcher, Sunil Gavaskar, Ashok Mankad, Zaheer Abbas,Mustaq Mohamad, Greg Chappel and Doug Walters. As a batsman scored 37 runs against India and 41 runs against the West Indians. Represented Sri Lanka in the first ever world cup played in England in 1975. In the domestic scene, he shone as an outstanding all-rounder, and was an all time great bowler known as the King of Swing, who picked five or more wickets in almost every innings. He also scored a century against Colts SC at the SSC, and a century against Radella SC at the university. He captained the Sri Lanka Cricket Board team that toured South India in 1973. In addition to captaining the University, captained the SSC and Saracens SC as well.

Soon after graduating, taught advanced level chemistry, at STC, Mt Lavinia for an year and also functioned as a cricket coach for a few years. Thereafter, joined the Arpico factory, Nawinna, which was then the biggest rubber and plastics multi-product manufacturing facility in Sri Lanka. In 1973 sat for the Licentiateship examination in Rubber chemistry, physics and technology offered by the then Institution of the Rubber Industry, UK, and received the Plastics and Rubber Institute Gold Medal for the best performance. In 1977, completed the Masters degree in polymer chemistry and technology and in 1995 completed the Masters degree in Business Administration of the Post Graduate institute of Management, topping the batch and receiving a Merit Degree and a Merit Award for excellence. In addition 1979/80, entered National College of Rubber Technology, London, to carry out Master of Philosophy research studies on heat sensitised latex system, under the supervision of the eminent Professor David Blackley.

These high academic achievements paved the way to serve as a visiting lecturer in both polymer chemistry & technology, and management studies, at the Institute of Chemistry Ceylon and several universities, making an outstanding contribution in the field of tertiary education of Sri Lanka and to the professional community having also served as the President of the Plastics & Rubber Institute, Institute of Chemistry Ceylon and the Chemical Sciences section of The Sri Lanka Association for The Advancement of Science.

Apart from having made a major contribution in the academic world, he served rubber and plastics product manufacturing industry for over 40 long years as an outstanding polymer technologist. Apart from the Arpico factory, worked as a General Manager in Research and Development and as a company Director in the Maharaja Group of companies and Associated Motorways Group of companies.

Also a landed proprietor and keen agriculturist, managing three coconut estates. Is also an unsung talented artist and portrait painter with several portraits done by him adorning the walls of academic halls of learning.

1. In 1974 the Pakistan under 25 team played against the Board of Control eleven captained by Anura Tennekoon at the CC grounds. Mevan Pieris ran through the Pakistan batsmen in the first innings with figures of 6 / 36.

2. In 1985 the Plastics and Rubber Institute, UK, invited Mevan Pieris to chair a technical session at the Rubbercon, International Conference held at Harrowgate, Yorkshire.

Additionally I may add that, Mevan Pieris was a much liked cricket commentator who delivered commentaries of the Royal – Thomian match for nearly fifty years.

Few Thomians could boast of a more outstanding all-round performance in so many walks of life.

1. Being awarded a Gold Medal for excellence at the Licentiateship examination in Rubber Chemistry, physics and technology.
2. Being awarded a merit degree and merit award for excellence in MBA
3. Being awarded the Leslie Handunge trophy for best sportsman at University of Colombo, and colours in three sports. etc

KTRS De Silva aka Raja says Mevan Peiris was his A Level chemistry teacher and made the subject so interesting to study that Raja went on to pass only in Chemistry at the examination…. Volare!

********

Thomians ALL !! One hammered by Thommo and half dead! Two hospital attendants! One shit-scared incoming batsman! One worried Cricket Manager!

PS: Duleep survived …. so did they all.

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Filed under cricket for amity, cultural transmission, education, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, unusual people

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