EM Karunaratne: Doyen of Cricket in Galle

Michael Roberts

EM Karunaratne was a doyen among cricket adminsitrators in Galle and his work is quite appropraitely marked in the Janashakthi Book of Sri Lanka Cricket, 1832-1996 edited by SS Perera in 1999 (sse pp.11-12) …where he is placed among an illustrious list: viz, George Vanderspar, Dr John Rockwood, SP Foenander, P. Saravanamuttu, Robert Senanayake and Gamini Dissanayake.




The account refers to him as “Edwin M Karunaratne (1886-1976)” and begins thus: “Edwin M. Karunaratne,a disarming lawyer anda genial gentleman, shouldered the cricket burden of Galle single-handed from 1920-1952. “EMK’, as he was popularly know resurerected Galle cricket after a long period of inactivity when he returend to his home town in 1920 after his law studies. EMK became the leadinglawyer in the south on the criminal side. His affluence enabled him to spend time and money on cricket. Btut for him cricke in the south would not hav prospered to the extent it did……”

This account is headlined thus: “The Only CCA President from the Provinces” — a significant note that underlines the degree to which Colombo dominated the organsiation of the sport in the British era — and indeed loomed disproportionately large over the island’s economy and served as the island’s hegemonic giant.

Let me also spice this note with a set of photographs centred on what was known in the first half of the 20th century as the “Galle Esplanade” — an arena which hosted cricket, soccer and hockey games; and on occasions, even hackery and elephant races (tame elephants of course).

Note the “Pavilion” in the background of this picture …. a venerable building where we cricketers changed and hung out in the 1950s and a centre for the earnest gentlemen of the Galle CC.

This pavilion and the Esplanade with it splendid green hedge servingasa circualr perimeter, was fashionedat some point in the 20th century from the open space in front of the impressive walls of the fort built by the Dutch. So, take note of what the place looked like before the Esplanade was fashioned ….











It is this space that became the arena known as the Galle Esplande” and thereafter, in ,more recent times, as the Galle Cricket Ground (reserved for cricket and excluding soccer, hockey, athletic meets, and the occasioanl hackery races it ‘fielded’ in the past.

Also note the data in this item: https://thuppahis.com/2020/05/22/a-century-of-cricket-in-gal

     A cricket match at the Galle Esplanade  …. A classic picture by Nihal Fernando 





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One response to “EM Karunaratne: Doyen of Cricket in Galle

  1. A NOTE from Michael Roberts, 26 November 2022: “When I was around 12-13 years old one of Galle’s talented cricketers was Christie Karunaratne of Richmond College –so talented that he played for a Ceylon XI pitted against the West Indies under John Goddard. But, then, alas, Christie went off his head and became a pathetic figure around the traps. What a calamity!

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