RIP …. Daya Sahabandu: Outstanding Spinner, Dogged Tailender

Sukumar Shan, within a site that says “Ceylon — Sri Lanka / Then & Now! ….  “Sri Lanka cricketing star Daya Sahabandu dies”

Daya Sahabandu, became the first Sri Lankan and only the third Asian in cricket’s history to surpass the four-figure mark (1000) wickets in Sara Trophy Cricket. The other two are India’s Bishen Singh Bedi and Pakistan’s Intikab Alam. You must not forget the fact, that both of them played in English county, cricket whereas, tall, lanky, unassuming, soft-spoken, Daya Sahabandu, did not get the opportunity to play county cricket in England.

Turning the score boards Daya Sahabandu’s Division one club cricket record is unbelievable and fantastic. In 19 1/2 season, 253 matches he bowled 6,552.1 overs. Out of this, 1919 were maidens. My calculator showed 14,787 runs capturing 1048 wickets – Average 14.11. Brilliant Achievement!

Great Moments

There are two greatest cricketing moments in his life. Number one, was when he was selected to represent Sri Lanka in 1969, against MCC. The second was with grit and determination, he batted as a tail ender for 4 1/2 hours in an unofficial Test against India at Lal Bahadur Stadium Hyderabad in December 1975.

Great Teacher Viji Weerasinghe guided me

Born on 28th March 1940, in Colombo, he joined Royal College Primary in 1945 and joined Royal College in 1951. J. C. A. Corea and Dudley De Silva were the principals. His first form teacher at Royal was Viji Weerasinghe. Fatherly figure Weerasinghe, has guided many Royalists for more than five decades. The name Royal and Viji Weerasinghe, are inseparable. He is a great teacher. “I am indebted to Viji Weerasinghe”, stated Daya Sahabandu.

Daya’s beloved father S. W. Sahabandu was attached to education office, Western Province as an education officer and his mother Amitha Mendis Gunasekera was a housewife. His elder brother S. S. Sahabandu, is a President’s Counsel. He started playing cricket with his elder brother Sasita, who is elder to him by four years. Therefore, he has to bowl at him most of the time. The venue was the background of their house at Charlemont Road, Wellawatta.

Edward was his first cricket coach at R. P. S. Later, he was coached by late B. St. E. De Bruin. He saw Daya Sahabandu’s talents and made him a left-arm dual purpose bowler for Royal. He played for Royal for three years – 1958, 1959 and 1960. Daya Sahabandu won the Royal College bowling prize in 1958 and 1959.

Believe it or not

Although, Daya Sahabandu was a bowler, his most memorable and unforgettable incident came from his bat. Believe it or not.” He batted for four and half hours (4 1/2) and made 32 not out at Hydarabad when Sri Lanka played India in 1975. “In the second innings, Sri Lanka were five wickets down for 195. I had a seventh wicket stand of 75 runs with Tony Opatha (64). I faced the best spinners in the world circuit. Bhagavat Chandrasekhar, Bishen Singh Bedi and Erappali Prasanna, in this match and we defied all of them, stated Daya Sahabandu.

After leaving school, he started his professional career as a play-ground Instructor from 1963-1977.

This English batsman made a comment on a Sri Lankan left arm bowler and paid a glowing tribute to him. Tom Graveney stated: “Your left arm bowler Daya Sahabandu, is easily the best I have faced in my 20 years of big cricket. I am positive, he should be able to find a place in any county side in England. No bowler could have bowled so well as he did on that plumb placid wicket”, stated England’s Tom Graveney, after scoring a century against Sri Lanka in Colombo. It was undoubtedly, the highest compliment paid to a Sri Lankan bowler, by a world class batsman.

He and his wife Swarna had one son, Janaka. They lived in, Wellawatte beach side He died at the Sri Jayawardenepura Hospital, on 9 August 2023,




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4 responses to “RIP …. Daya Sahabandu: Outstanding Spinner, Dogged Tailender

  1. Lawrence Machado

    Thanks for highlighting this humble cricketer’s great achievements which, like those of his ilk, ultimately paved the way for our Test status.

    • SPOT ON ….. YES You have hit the nail on the head. We nerly made it in the mid-1960s but some typical Sri Lankan machinations undermined the planned tour of UK.

  2. dickie bird

    I remember the Late Daya Sahabandu verywell. In the late Sixties, Late Daya & Makin Salih were attached to the Municipality and coached the young players at Peterson Sports Club located at Peterson Lane, Wellawatte..
    Daya used to bowl to us at practices. We had a matting.
    I was previledged to face Daya and also learned the art of playing the backfoot cut shot thanks to Makin Salih. Apparently that was Makin’s pet stroke.
    Football Coach was Piyadasa perera, Sri Lanka Goal Keeper.

  3. EMAIL NOTE from Harsha Samarajiva, 1 October 2023:

    “He was natural bowler, one of the greatest bowlers of SL. Also a kind simple human. I did what I could when he was alive. I have fond memories of him as a living person.”
    “I opened bowling with Daya for Royal 1958-1960.”

    NOTE that Harsha Samajiva went on to study medicine at the Uni-of-Ceylon and opened bowling with Brendon Gooneratne and Mohanlal Fernando for the University Sara Trophy team and thus and was “privileged to play for the Sara Trophy winning team under Carlyle Perera” (his words).

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