D. H. De Silva: A Talented Batsman & Great Sportsman

Buddy Reid … with highlighting imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

I was fortunate to get to know DH (Hema) de Silva when I played cricket with him for the University of Ceylon. He captained the side when I was in my second year and it was then that I got to know what a courageous and hard working cricketer he was.

His courage as a batsman was exemplified in a match against the SSC when fast bowler Stanley de Alwis was delivering lightning bolts at us with the new ball. Carlyle Perera my opening partner had been dismissed fending a ball away from his head. I was at the non-striker’s end when DH came in and said, ‘Don’t worry Buddy, I will take Stanley.” He played the rising ball like a master, protecting us lesser batsmen and by the end of the Varsity innings of 136, he had scored 77.

His mastery extended to facing spin. As the spinner came in to bowl, he would hold his bat vertically against his chest and walk down the wicket, front on, skipping to the off or leg side as required to take the ball on the bounce and dispatching it to any part of the field he chose.

In training sessions, his focus was on fielding. He would divide us into small groups of three or four. One group would take slip catches. Another would be having ground fielding at about twenty yards distance from a cracking drive and another would be having high long distance catches. The rest would be batting and bowling on the centre wicket. Thus we were all fully and intensely occupied.

Hema’s sportsmanship was shown in a match some years later when we were on opposite sides. He was captaining the Nomads and I was captaining the BRC. We batted first on a rain affected slightly sticky, tricky wicket on the Saturday and there were dents in the wicket where Kehelgamuwa’s rockets landed.

The next day when we took the field I found that the wicket was beautiful with not a mark on it. I was certain that the wicket had been rolled and I had a heated argument about it with DH. I stressed that I did not think he would do such a thing, but it looked as though his groundsman had taken it upon himself to roll the wicket overnight. The match moved on to the second innings with the Nomads needing 120 in 120 minutes for an outright win. The Nomads were coasting to victory when we fought back and dismissed the last man Nihal de Silva, run out with a direct hit thrown on the wicket off his sweep shot to long leg with the Nomad’s score at 119 with one ball to spare!

DH walked briskly out of the pavilion with a big smile on his face, to meet me half way down the grounds to congratulate me! That was real sportsmanship considering the argument we had had earlier in the day

Later in his role as Municipal Commissioner of Kandy, he showed that he was a man of high principles. He stood up for what was right and nearly paid for it with his life. He was thrown to the ground and a rifle held pointing to his head. When the trigger was pulled, it jammed and the rifle did not discharge. The intent of his enemies was such that he had to leave Sri Lanka. He migrated to Australia and I met him again in Melbourne where he settled down to a career as a Tennis coach. He had coached one of his sons to become a Sri Lankan tennis champion and another of his sons became a National Table Tennis Champion. Hema himself played Table Tennis for the University of Ceylon and together with Chris Guneratne and me, played in the Inter University Table Tennis Championships in India.

DH was a man of immense talent, great principles and great application and one whom I admire greatly.

Buddy Reid

*****   *****

PS: I find that I have written an Appreciation in my cricketique website after DH passed away. It is lengthy, so I will present it as a new item: but let me place an old photograph from Peradeniya days which shows the Pera cricket squad circa 1959 with Hema as one of the seniors….. Michael Roberts

1 Comment

Filed under cricket for amity, cricket selections, education, heritage, life stories, performance, Sri Lankan cricket, sri lankan society, unusual people

One response to “D. H. De Silva: A Talented Batsman & Great Sportsman

  1. Pingback: DH De Silva: A Cricketing Aficianados … who survived an Assassin’s Bullet | Thuppahi's Blog

Leave a Reply