Australia vs Ceylon, Colombo Oval, 29 March 1953

Hassett and Others at Cricket in Colombo, 29 March 1953 ………………Michael Roberts (compiler) …. with the presentation here being facilitated by the technical wizardry of Johnny De Silva (a fellow-Aloysian) and Victor Melder (Master Lexigrapher & Recordkeeper) who both reside in Melbourne



Bill O’Reilly’s Report on the Match:

……………………….Ceylon Does Well against Hassett’s Team

………………………………………..C. H Gunasekara’s Batting Impresses

From Ceylon’s point of view by far the most interesting angle of their short-time match against the Australians was the outstanding batting performance of C. H. Gunasekara, who faced up to the full strength of Australia’s Test attack so confidently that it seemed he would have preferred the match to last long enough to do his undoubted batting talent full justice.

Opening with M. Salih, who timed the ball remarkably well on the on-side, Gunasekara met Lindwall, Miller and Johnston, three bowlers who have completely dominated post-war cricket to such an extent that to them can be attributed the full credit for placing Australian cricket in the commanding position it has enjoyed over the past seven years. In dealing with each of them so confidently as he did, Gunasekara showed ability far above the ordinary and certainly made a fine impression on all of the Australians who saw him.

From the Australian angle it can be said that the Colombo match has given us reason to be happy about our team’s prospects in the Test series about to be performed against England. Until this match both Miller and Lindwall were partially under a cloud.

Complete Recovery

In the Fourth Test in Adelaide against the South Africans recently each of them was forced to leave the field, having suffered muscular injuries. But in Colombo yesterday they showed quite convincingly that they had recovered completely. To emphasise that fact perhaps, Miller turned a cart-wheel on the pitch in scraping home from an attempted short run, and as he hit the ground hard, there were many Australians who watched extra keenly to see how he got up again. He got up, carried on to 40 runs, and later bowled several spirited overs. Consequently we have no fears about him now. And Lindwall, apparently looking for work, delved in with gusto and made one or two fly high off an excellent pitch, which was a credit to the staff who prepared it.

Not so Good

Ceylon’s out-cricket did not reach such a high standard as the batting department. But Bartels, bowling his outswingers intelligently, was able to collect four good wickets as the Australian batsmen chased the runs. Wicketkeeper Fernando did a tradesman-like job of work and M. Salih, again performed splendidly in the out-field. But it would pay Ceylon to concentrate more on obtaining accuracy in returns from the field.

De Saram skippered his team excellently. When the Australian batsmen Morris, Hole and Miller attacked strongly, he showed no inclination to spread his field deep to spoil the game as a spectacle as he saved runs.

All of us Australians are certain that this match serves an excellent purpose, and we are delighted with the extraordinary enthusiasm of the cricket followers in Colombo. There is no need to worry about the future of the game in this beautiful island.

Impressed with Ceylon’s Display

The Manager of the Australian cricket team to England, Mr George A. Davies, and the Captain, Mr Lindsay Hassett, think that they have a very good chance … [words obliterated by damage] … Test series this year. Mr. Davies when asked about the present team said that his was a promising side, there being a mixture of youth and experience. He was hoping that the young ones, Ian Craig in particular, would reproduce their home form in England. The English team was getting better every year, he went on to say. Asked about the injuries Lindwall and Keith Miller had, he said that they were fully recovered, which they proved in their match against Ceylon yesterday. Alan Davidson had dislocated his middle finger, but will be quite fit by the time they reach England.

He was highly impressed by the showing of the Ceylon team and said that he thought quite a lot about the Ceylon batting. The batsmen, he said, know to pick the correct ball to punish. Special mention was due to our wicket keeper, young H. I. K. Fernando, who did a marvelous job behind the sticks, he said.

Hardest Tests Ahead

Hassett expected a series of hard Tests ahead of them, but was quite confident of his men and said that the team under his command should give a good account of themselves. Sid Barnes who was also aboard the Orcades said that he was treating this trip as a tour for himself and his family. They hoped to visit many countries. He refused to make any comments on his omission from the Australian Test sides-during the South African tour.

Two of the Australian cricketers, Jack Hill and Gil Langley, were taken to the Deaf and Blind School, where they saw some of the blind boys playing a new game of cricket. This they said was quite new to them, and were interested in the game. Langley paid a tribute to the inventor of this game and said that he just could not figure out how these boys managed to play the game. He complimented the young wicket keeper for his excellent work behind the stumps.


Australia        First Innings

L. Hassett c Jayasinghe b Wijesinha 16

A.R. Morris b Pieris                              42

G. Hole c Pieris b Bartels 54

K. Miller b C.I. Gunasekara 39

I. Craig b Bartels             12

J. de Courcy b C.I. Gunasekara   2

R. Benaud c and b Bartels             7

R. Archer not out 16

D. Tallon st Fernando b Bartels 14

R.Lindwall not out                                  6

Extras                                                    1

Total 8 wickets dec.                              209

Fall of wickets: 8, 68, 86, 106, 106, 144, 173, 178.

Bowling: C. E. Allen 13.1-2-33-0; S. Coomaraswamy 15-2-45-4; B. R. Heyn 15— 0— 43-1; S. S. Jayawickrama 5-1-14-0; R. L. de Kretser 12-1-39-2.

Fall of wickets: 17, 84, 148, 155, 162, 168, 175, 181, 209.

Bowling: P. I. Pieris 8-0-53-1; R. B. Wijesinha 5-0-39-1; V. G. Prins 1-0-5-0; C. W. Bartels 14 -0-62-4; C. I. Gunasekara 8-1-35-2; B. Claessen 3-0-14-0.

All-Ceylon      First Innings

M. Salih c Johnston b Miller               16

C.H. Gunasekara not out                       66

V.G. Prins b Hole                                   42

S. Jayasinghe c Miller b Hole               0

C.I. Gunasekara c Benaud b Hassett      16

B. Claessen not out                                   1

Extras                                                         8

Total: 4 wickets for                              149

Bowling: R. Lindwall 5-0-18-1; W. A. Johnston 10-3-21-0; K. Miller 7-1-23-1; R. Archer 4-0-11-0; R. Benaud 7-0-31-0; G. Hole 2-0-10-2; L. Hassett 2-0-13-1; A. R. Morris 1-0-11-0.

Jack Fingleton’s Comments on the Game

Australians at Colombo
One-Day Match Drawn
Classical batting by C. H. Gunasekara

The one-day match between the Australian team and all-Ceylon ended in a draw here today. Australia, who batted first, closed their innings with 210 for eight, and Ceylon scored 149 for the loss of four wickets.

The Australian team’s batting slumped badly after A. R. Morris, G. Hole and K. R. Miller gave it a bright beginning and at the end of the day’s play, in which both sides batted for two hours, honours were with the Ceylonese. The enthusiastic crowd of 12,000, which chortled and chirped appreciatively all during the play like a flock of magpies was disappointed with the batting of the young Australians. They clustered around I. Craig, as he walked to the middle, but apart from two neat leg-glances, the young Sydney lad did not quite strike his form, and like de Courcy cut a ball into his stumps.

L. Hassett was in bright form and with Morris and Hole speeding the ball to boundary, the Australians scored 100 in 48 minutes. That was delightful cricket and Morris and Hole threw away their wickets to give the rest a chance for batting practice, but apart from Miller, whose reputation here is very high, the remaining Australians struggled hard to get the next century.

Bartels, the protégé of Learie Constantine, who is Ceylon’s coach, bowled well to take four wickets with medium-paced stuff. The most classical batting of the day was provided by the tall C. H. Gunasekara, a member of the well-known Ceylon cricketing family. He is very correct and has every stroke. One began to wish that he belonged to the Australian team, as he opened out with a flood of strokes, and the wild enthusiasm that greeted his success was surely heard half a mile away at the local gaol, where the former star Ceylon cricketer, Sathasivam is confined on a murder charge.

 Lunch during the 1953 game. From the Left: S. Saravanamuttu, Sir Richard Aluvihare,, Lindsay Hassett, J. R. Jayewardene (President of the CCA) …. Pix derived from the CH Gunasekera Scrapbook

Gunasekara’s cousin, C. I. Gunasekara hit Hassett over the fence and there was a quaint happening, when a bumper from Miller hit the other Gunasekara on his head, bouncing away to the boundary. The umpire refused to give four byes, arguing that the batsman had made no attempt to hit the ball; it was perfectly true as he ducked his away like a startled faun, but Miller gave him a nice juicy full toss which he tucked away for a four, and every body was satisfied — especially those clamouring barrackers.

The game was very pleasant and the Australians made a good impression by agreeing to this game, even though play was very shortened and the Australians, who were obviously still very much at sea with their legs and timing, rushed straight from their ship to the ground and back again to continue their voyage to England.

Learie Constantine’s Review of The Teams

Craig, De Courcy are certainly Good for Many Runs

The Australians’ capabilities cannot be judged by their performance against All-Ceylon on Sunday for it was very evident from the outset that they were making scoring strokes from the very first ball. But in Ian Craig and Jim De Courcy I see two young players who will continue to shine in Australian cricket. They get over the ball and are very economical in their movements.

They should make a lot of runs in England, that is if they eschew the late cut for which they have a partiality.

Channa Gunasekara prepares to face Bill Johnston — pic from Studio Times in Channa Gunesekara’s Scrapbook

From a Ceylon point of view the match against the Australians has not surprised nor disappointed me in any respect. The bowler I expected to do well — Bartels — has done well. I have already given the opinion that he is one of the finest bowlers in Ceylon and there is no reason why I should change that opinion.


Rather that opinion has been confirmed. But it should be remembered that Bartels was playing against the Australian side batting in festival mood. In fact, the whole atmosphere of the game was that of an exhibition. And in that respect the crowd was fully satisfied that the visitors gave them good fare.

Bartels came out with flying colours. It is not because he captures wickets but because craftsmen do not look for wickets to assess success

…  but rather how these wickets are achieved. Bartels made the Australians cut at his off break and the leg break which is an indication that they were deceived as to which was coming.

The dashing Keith Miller goes out to bat … Pix from CH Gunasekara’s Scrapbook

No Time for That

In a serious game the tourists would have got behind the line and they would have taken time to discover which was what and would have made confident strokes rather than speculative shots. But in a one-day match there is no time for that and Bartels’s success must be judged on what he did in the prevailing circumstances.

C. I. Gunasekara bowled very well and he kept a good length. But with the exception of a ball which made De Courcy play on, he did not set many problems. He can, however, be depended on to keep one end going — which is not very easy for spin-bowlers.

The two youngsters, P. I. Pieris and Brian Claessen had not many opportunities. In fact, when the crowd was getting restive because the Ceylon captain persevered with him, Pieris achieved his first success. He bowled with more hostility after he gained Morris’s wicket than he did earlier.

It is Logical

Claessen’s case is a different thing. Australians are the best players of spin-bowlers in the world, and unless a Ceylon spin bowler is top rate in flight, spin and ingenuity it is almost a waste of time to put him on when the early batsmen are in an aggressive mood.

But these two players are young and their lack of success is not necessary to justify their inclusion. I think the inclusion is logical from the point of view of youth and potential. I hope neither is discarded too early.

The contrast between C. H. Gunasekara and Makkin Salih, who opened the Ceylon innings, was like comparing chalk to cheese. Salih may make runs, but so far as movement on the wicket is concerned, he must take his hat off to C. H. Gunasekara as his superior.


Lindsay Hassett is caught by Stanley Jayasinghe off Bertie Wijesinha (Times of Ceylon, 30 March 1953, CH Gunasekara’s Scrapbook (Pic by Studio Times)

Best in the Land

Gunasekara has again demonstrated what discipline and concentration can do, and he ranks as one of the foremost batsmen in the country. Jayasinghe’s failure is disappointing, but understandable. Playing against an ordinary local side he would have hit that ball six times out of six to the boundary. But in this case he succumbed to the importance of the occasion. His failure does not make him any the less a great natural cricketer.

Prins played a good innings. It could in many ways have been more convincing. That is, of course when he was on the defensive. But in moving to the slow bowling, he showed quick thought and decision and made some splendid strokes.

Good Work

The fielding of the Ceylon side left a little room for improvement and the throwing-in, especially, could have been more accurate. The stumping of Don Tallon by his opposite number, H. I. K. Fernando, was a beautiful piece of work. It was nice to see Tallon playfully ruffle Fernando’s hair in acknowledgement of his snappy effort. It is only in cricket that such magnanimous gestures can be shown.

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, art & allure bewitching, Australian culture, cricket for amity, cultural transmission, ethnicity, landscape wondrous, life stories, sri lankan society, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

Leave a Reply