Mervyn Pereira’s Account of the Kennington Oval Encounter

Mervyn Pereira, in Daily News, 14 June 1975, with this title “Sri Lanka’s gallant performance at the Kensington Oval on Wednesday is the talking point in the press.”

Duleep Mendis felled by Thomson, 14 June 1975

Sri Lanka’s gallant performance at the Kensington Oval on Wednesday is the talking point in all the newspapers here. They carried pictures in the front page of Sunil Wettimuny and Duleep Mendis being hit and laid low by Jeff Thomson’s fast bowling. Pictures were also carried in the front pages of the demonstrations at the Oval by a group of people professing to speak for the Tamils.

The Daily Mirror lead story says ‘Jeff Thomson Australia’s controversial fast bowler, was booed and jeered by the Oval crowd after putting two Sri l.anka batsmen in hospital’. The emotional manager of the Sri Lanka side. Mr. K. M. T. Perera claims injuries to Mendis and Wettimuny had cost his side a Prudential World Cup victory. ‘I think we had a great chance of winning until Mendis was hit on the forehead by a ball short of length. These are dangerous balls but not bouncers. Umpires have the power to warn bowlers and I thought Thomson should have been warned’ said Mr Perera. ‘They say you should not bowl like that against unrecognised batsmen. We are only part-time amateurs. We play for the love of the game,’ said the Manager.

David Montague Surrey’s physiotherapist who treated both the injured players said, ‘the ball struck Mendis on the strongest part of the forehead. But four inches the other way might have been fatal.’

Australian manager Bennett said “the ball that struck Mendis was a little short but a good one. Of course, Thomson should not have been warned. You must be joking. What do you expect him to do — bowl under arm?”

I read this report to Manager Perera and he told me that it was a complete distortion of what he had said. He added that he seemed to have been made a scapegoat of by certain sections of the press in a campaign against Thomson.

‘Make no mistake Thomson howls really fast. The balls that hit our batsmen were not aimed at the body, sheer pace made them rise and this speed unsettled our cricketers. But let us pay tribute to the greatest performers of a Ceylonese cricketing side against one of the best teams In the world’ said Mr Perera.

The press has been spotlighting news about Thomson with the result that he gets a bad public image. The reason is that conditions appear to be created to weaken his spirit since English batsmen cannot face him, are afraid to face him and will not relish meeting him. All this campaign against Thomson confirms that Manager Perera said that he is being made a scapegoat to crucify Thomson

Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister, Mr K. B. Ratnayakc visited Mendis in Hospital. He is out of danger and was only concussed. The injured batsmen were visited by several Ceylonese. Even Thomson wanted to visit him in hospital.

In Group ‘B’ Australia, so far have made the highest average of 5.05 runs per over. West Indies have 4.43, Pakistan 4.17 and Sri l.anka 3.74.

Thomson and Lillee, the fastest bowling pair in action today, helped give our cricket a proud name and erase all the humiliation and disgrace suffered at Old Trafford against the Windies.

This was a vital match for Australia for Thomson was on trial himself. He had been no balled several times last week and, after that he had spent many hours at the nets practising his run-up. So, he was at his fastest and best on Wednesday. Unlike other fast bowlers he is able to get the ball to lift off a length and this is what troubles the best batsmen.


Thomson’s bowling has troubled the best English batsmen and so it was a surprise when the Sri Lanka batsmen encountered the same combination and did not wilt. On Wednesday, the doubting Thomasses, who said that Sri Lanka did not deserve an invitation to the World Cup Trophy matches, have had to eat their words.

In glorious sunshine the Sri Lanka cricketers reminded the ICC that when they meet on June 26 to consider Sri Lanka’s claim for Test status it cannot be ignored on the grounds of lack of cricketing skill and expertise.

For Australia, another new cricketing star was born. He was left-handed batsman Turner who scored a century and underlined the prowess he showed. He was given the man of the match award. The adjudicator was Laurie B. Fishlock. former England Test cricketer.



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