DWL Lieversz on Cricket at Royal College, 1923-29

“My Recollections of Cricket at Royal From 1923 to 1929”  by DWL Lieversz** ……  presented on 1 November 2007 …. with highlighting in this version being the hand of The Editor, Thuppahi

It is generally believed that the older you get, the clearer in your mind become the days of youth and childhood.

When I sat down to write my recollections of the years I played cricket for Royal, I found that the days were clear indeed. The comradeship and team spirit, the excitement of the games, and best of all, the feeling of kinship which Royal has a special way of rousing, all came into my mind.

I was sixteen years old when I was picked to play for the 1923 cricket team. I believe I was picked mainly for batting, although I recall the great attention I paid to fielding. In those days to be a reliable fieldsman was mandatory on every member of a cricket team, school or club, the days of specialists were in the future.

C. Dias captained our team in 1923, and again in 1924. In 1925 I played under the legendary Chippy Gunasekera and in 1926 I had the honour of captaining Royal myself. These four years live in my memory very clearly, and at odd times, incidents come to my mind, some pleasant, some tense but all interesting to me. I think I speak for all my team mates of these four glorious years to me when I say that we not only had a wonderful time, but we are looking back, grateful for the privilege of being Royalists and representing the College at cricket.

The 1923 match was won by Royal in the third ball of the last over when our captain took a return catch off his own bowling. We lost the next year when S. T. C. had a superior side. I was fortunate to have scores of 38 and 39 in the two innings. The staff was so pleased that a spontaneous prize was awarded, with P. 1. Roberts, L. V. Gooneratne, J. G. Paulusz, F. D. Wijesinghe, R. C. Edwards leading the movement to award a special prize. Royal won again in 1925, with Chippy as captain, Neil Joseph scored his first big-match century, a superb 113 runs with unstoppable boun­daries all round the wicket. I scored 55. I remember the jubilation that year. It was not the sort of celebration of present years, in which over enthusiastic crowds of small boys, and sometimes not so small boys, invade the field and disturb play, delaying the orderly progress of cricket. Old timers traditionally believe that the days of their youth were superior to the days of today’s youth, and quite often they are wrong. But in this matter of invading the field, I don’t think my generation is wrong to wish it would stop.

1925 was the year in which J. R. Jayewardene, President of the Republic of Sri Lanka, played for Royal. Even as a school-boy, he stood out, and stands out in the memories of men like me, his vintage, and much younger men as. well. He was a good batsman, a straight bat who learnt how to bat, and practised what he learnt. He was an outstanding fieldsman, particularly in the outfield where I distinctly remember his taking an excellent catch on the legside boundary.

1926 was the year I captained and naturally a very special year to me. It was an unique season. When the day came for the Royal-Thomian match we had still to win a game. S. T. C. was riding high on the crest of a justifiable wave of confidence. We had the feeling that even if we did not face the big match with confidence, we faced it with a stern determination to do the best we could. My opening knock of 14 runs was a start good enough, though 1 would have liked to stay longer at the wicket. First innings runs were of great importance, and our battle would be half won, or at least surer, if we piled up a sizeable score. Then Neil Joseph came in to bat. Neil’s glamour remains in the memory. A slim schoolboy with a bat in his hand but what a man, what a batsmanNeil went on to score a century, 133 runs his second in the series, which in cricket’s way dazzled and demoralised a team sure of winning. We won.

Standing: P.N Bartholomeusz, Major L.V. Gunaratne, Major H.L. Reid, Mr. L.H.W. Sampson, Mr. T.D. Wijesinghe, E.G.L. Lieversz.
Seated: W. Ludovici, N.S. Joseph, D.W.L. Lieversz (Capt), H. Edward, “Polo”Wijetunga, H.C. Dharamaratne.
Ground: Charles Harold Wilfred de Soysa (Bishop), Albert Eustace Ratnarajah, “Bunnie” Paul, N. Kandiah, P.K. Ranhotty

Neil’s performance stood out, but as captain, I still recall the grit with which we went out to play as a team. This match the Royal-Thomian will remain in my memory after I have forgotten much else, and I am sure the two survivors of the Royal team of that year, N. Kandiah who went on to captain the 1929 Jubilee Match and my brother E. G. L. Lieversz will feel the same of those who have passed away. I recall the late Bishop Harold de Soysa. He was an outstanding right-arm seam bowler, full of concentration and with an instinctive feeling for all that is good in cricket.

I was happy at Royal. It made me whatever I am, and whatever I have achieved. These debts all Royalists owe are beyond repaying, but they are debts that sit with grace upon us.

** This item can be located at http://rcpeople.blogspot.com/2007/11/d-w-l-lieversz.html …….  It came to my attention accidentally. The conversion from an item in dark background to a serviceable entity was carried out for me by an old Royalist, Tissa Abeywardena in Colombo, and an old Aloysian mate, John de Silva (aka “Johnny”) in Melbourne – present-day locations which encapsulate the life journeys of so many Sri Lankan cricketers ……  including one Darrell Lieversz, a Royalist son of DWL and an outstanding player for Ceylon in the 1960s, especially as a paceman……………. Michael Roberts




ADDENDUM:  …. Some Late Finds

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