POSTED AT 08:18 AM 09-03-2019
Ashley Fonseka Cambrian cricketer of repute
Prince of Wales’ College, Moratuwa first eleven cricket team 1955/56 Seated (from left): Ashley Fonseka (Vice Captain), Lasantha Rodrigo (Captain), J. B. C. Rodrigo (Principal), Stanley de Alwis, Herbert Fonseka. Standing (from left): Suranjith Mendis, B
Former Prince of Wales’ College Cricketer, Athlete, Soccer player, Junior and Senior Cadet, Junior and Senior Prefect, Singhalese Sports Club, Catamarans Sports Club, Ceylon Transport Board, Dickoya Sports Club and State Plantations cricketer Ashley Fonseka spoke to the Daily News at his residence at 41/2, Wickramaratne Avenue, Kohuwala.
Q - Can you tell something in brief about yourself and your family?
A - My full name is Ashley Brian Fonseka and I was born on 30th January 1936 and my father is Kalutharawedage Christian Solomon Fonseka. He was at Gordon Frazer and Company and my mother is Elizabeth Fonseka nee Silva and she is a housewife. In my family there are six boys and seven girls. Our home address is 25, “Agra” Charles Place, Lunawa, Moratuwa. My wife is Mrs. Priya Fonseka nee De Mel and we have two sons and two daughters and we hail from Moratuwa.
Q - What is your first school?
A - Not only my elf my all brothers and sisters had their entire education at Prince and Princess of Wales’ Colleges, Moratuwa. My first teacher was Miss Reena Jayawardene in the Kindergarten Class and my Principal was J. B. C. Rodrigo throughout my school career.
Q - How did you commence your cricket career?
A - As I mentioned earlier I had six brothers and we all used to play softball cricket with our neighbouring friends during our small days. When I was eleven years we used to play softball cricket at the college grounds during the intervals and afternoons. One afternoon when we were playing cricket our Principal who is a great cricket lover noticed my batting and he called me and took me to the center of the wicket and during that time our first eleven cricketers had a practice session. Then he called two senior players H. I. Fernando and my elder brother Stanley Fonseka and told them to bowl at me with the hard ball. I batted very well and the Principal was very happy and said that one day I will play for Ceylon and asked me to report for under 12 cricket practices. The following day I attended practices and finally I was selected as the captain of the under 12 team. From there I went on to captain the under 14 and 16 teams.
Q - Did you play for the first eleven team?
A - In 1951 I attended first eleven cricket practices and got selected as a middle order right hand batsman and a right arm medium pace bowler. During my time our Big Match was with St. John’s College, Panadura. In 1952 and ’53 I played with them. Then in 1954 our Big Match versus St. Sebastian’s was revived and in 1954, 1955 and 1956 I played in three big matches and altogether I have played in five big matches for my alma mater.
In 1955/56 I was appointed vice captain to Lasantha Rodrigo. In 1955 we beat Sebs under Stanley de Alwis and the other two matches were drawn. During my career I excelled as an all rounder and as a reserve wicket keeper. In 1956 Mr. Rodrigo took me and Lasantha to Singhalese Sports Club and handed us over to F. C. de Saram. In my family except my elder brother Willie all others played for the College first eleven team.
Q - Did you excel in club cricket?
A - I could play only three matches in Sara Trophy. Due to travelling problems I stepped down and Lasantha continued and later he played for Ceylon. Then S. E. G. Perera and Hugh Caldera called me and asked me to join Catamarans Sports Club and I played for them in the Sara Trophy for two years opening the batting and bowling.
Q - What is your employment?
A - My ambition was to join as a lanter and I was successful. I got an appointment to creep in an estate at Deniyaya. After my creeping I came back home and my brother Stanley told me that Ceylon Transport Board is recruiting casual clerks and he took me to Shelley Wickramasinghe and I was selected. During this period both of them were engaged in forming a cricket team in the CTB and I too attended practices. Our first ever match was with formidable Law College at St. Joseph’s College grounds. Shelley asked me to open and I carried out my bat scoring 134. In bowling I opened and claimed a few wickets and we won the match. I represented them for some time and also in athletics at the National Services meet.
Q - Then what happened?
A - I was looking for a planting job and Shaw Wallace and Hedges recruited me as a planter and drafted me to Dolosbage. Shelley and my brother both requested me to stay at the CTB but I declined and joined the planting sector. There was no first class cricket over there but I joined Dickoya Sports Club to play Daily News cricket. My other team mates were Ken Murray, Sarath Sirisena, Lalith Obeysekera, Chula Samarasinghe to mention a few. After the estates were taken over in early seventies we came under the State Plantations Corporation. I led the team and the over forty team and my team mates were Yasa Ratnayake, Ken Murray, Lucky Samarasinghe, Abey Dias and Tikiri de Silva (Ubaya’s brother) to mention a few. In 1978 under my captaincy we went on a cricket tour to India on the invitation of United Planters Association of South India (UPASI) and I captained for two years and in 1993 I retired from planting and went to Australia and there I played for Melville Cricket Club, Perth. Playing for Sri Lankans against visiting Pakistanis I claimed 4 for 14 and opened batting and in the very first ball I got a four and the second ball struck my head and I was immediately rushed to Royal Perth Hospital. That was the first instance I was injured in my cricket career and I called it a day.
Q - What are the other sports you did at school?
A - I was the captain of the First Eleven football team and I was a House Captain and the School Athletics Captain. I was in the college relay team with Stanley de Alwis, Mohan Thurairajah and K. T. P. Wijedasa. I represented at the Western Group Meet but I was unsuccessful at the Publics Sports Meet. I was a Junior Cadet and a Senior Cadet Sergeant. In 1952 Mr. Rodrigo introduced the Junior Prefect System at school and three of us were appointed. I was one of them and later I was appointed as a Senior Prefect too.
Q - Who is the best cricketer you came across in your school career and clubs?
A - At college it was Stanley de Alwis. He was the best all rounder. H. I. Fernando and my brother Stanley were very good batsmen but I give my vote to Paul Devadasan. In club cricket it was none other than M. Sathasivam.
Q - What is the advice you can give to young cricketers?
A - First and foremost is discipline then studies with a sound knowledge of English. If you are a sportsman you must be a sportsman on and off the field. All young cricketers should commence their cricket career playing with softball.
Ashley can be contacted on 0775563985
Dilwin Mendis Moratuwa Sports Special Correspondent