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Sathasivam of Ceylon : The Greatest of Sri Lankan Batsmen
An interview with Prof. Ravindra Fernando on his new book

When I dropped in recently at the Department of Forensic Medicine, University of Colombo to get some guidance on some forensic aspects of child abuse, a subject on which the professor is a pioneering expert, I noticed a book on his table on a subject that had nothing to do with forensic medicine. It was titled, “Sathasivam of Ceylon – the Batting Legend”.

This interested me and I went over a few pages. It took me a while to realise that it was Professor Fernando who had authored the book, to my surprise. It was unusual as the book was not on medicine or a medically related subject as he usually writes. It was on cricket! More accurately, about a cricketer. As we spoke more, I recalled reading a piece he had written long ago on our ace wicket keeper, Kaluwitharana to the newspaper as well and realised that Professor is a keen cricket fan. This led to the following interview,which I thought will be of interest to all our readers.

Q: Of all cricketers, why did you select Mahadevan Sathasivam?
A: When I did research to write the book on the murder of Mrs.Sathasivam a few years ago, many articles I read convinced me that Mahadevan Sathasivam was perhaps the best batsman Sri Lanka has produced. So I thought I must document the cricket career of Sathasivam one day. This book is the result.

Q. Why do you say he is perhaps our best batsman?
A. He played comparatively few matches at a time we did not have test status here and abroad. Records of those few matches show what a batting genius he was. He captained two countries and there are many cricketers and cricket writers who considered he was the best batsman at that time.

Q. Who were they?
A. Firstly, I would like to mention that playing a match against the Commonwealth XI in 1950, Ceylon was all out for 153. Sathasivam scored a brilliant 96 weathering the storm for 238 minutes. Only two others reached double figures, demonstrating the greatness of Sathasivam.Sathasivam’s 96 runs in this match against the bowling attack which included West Indians Frank Worrell, Geo Tribe, Fred Freer and GeoPope, who had reputations for being unplayable on such wickets.

Based on this innings of Sathasivam, Frank Worrell, a former West Indian captain named Sathasivam as the best batsman in the world.
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