Of the two - meaning T. B. Kehhelgamuwa and Daya Sahabandu - the more flamboyant was TBK, while Sahabandu, a shy, quite type was equally menacing as he was a dual purpose bowler, who opened the bowling with Kehel, and then switched to spin when the occasion demanded.
The duo were match winners, while representing Nomads Cricket Club, in the then premier cricket tournament in Sri Lanka, the Sara Trophy Tournament. Also played for the Police and Sahabandu represented the Colombo Municipal Council. The twosome also represented State Services, who at that stage were the ‘Top Dogs’ in the Inter-Services Cricket Tournament.
According to one writer, Kehelgamuwa was either splitting stumps with sheer pace or guiding Colombo’s traffic to peace.
Many considered him a quietly courteous man.
Sometime back, when this writer met him for an interview after he had retired from the Police, it became evident that he was also quite a fun loving character with an impish sense of humour.
He was born on Dec. 9 1942, in Gampola, in the Kandy district.
According to one report, Seneviratne Amaranayake, a school teacher attached to Dharmaraja College, Kandy, was stopped in his tracks by a spindly child aged around eight, raising dust and disarray, knocking down an old tin can with such uncanny pace, with the use of an old tennis ball.
He was being weaned at Walhagoda Central, a tiny mixed school on the outskirts of Gampola. Without much ado, the tiny pacie was ‘hijacked’ by Amaranayake and ended up at Dharmaraja College, Kandy.
Snappy yorkers and bowling bouncers
At Dharmaraja, Kehel came under the eagle eye of Sonny Yatawara. At the age of 17, Kehel was picked to tour India with the Ceylon Schools team. In the match against Combined Indian Colleges, he claimed eight wickets; all clean bowled. Although, he hit the stumps 11 times, he was no-balled thrice.
Best Schoolboy Bowler
Kehelgamuwa was arguably the fastest bowler since D. S. Jayasundara, according to those who have seen both at their fastest.
Following his rampant run in India, in the school circuit his best was 7 for 21 against Nalanda College, Colombo. It is a little known fact that the fiery pacie won the Best Schoolboy Bowler’s award in 1961 and 1962.
In 1963, he was lured to Police Park by old Joe, Felix Perumal. On the seamer’s dream at Police Park, the rookie, bowling at a thunderous pace, spread fear across the country. In 1968, he was among those who represented Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), against the late Colin Cowdrey’s MCC.
In 1971, the handsome young Sub-Inspector of Police stalked and capped pretty schoolmistress, Hemamalee Wettasinghe, when he was stationed at Panadura.
In Gopalan Trophy matches against Tamil Nadu, Kehel ripped through some of India’s top notch batters, including Ajith Wadekar, Buddi Kundaram, Salim Durrani and Milka Singh, among many others.
Joe Lister’s XI
In a match against Joe Lister’s XI, a veritable England team, TBK captured 6 for 67.
In 1972, he took 4 Aussie wickets for 19 runs.
Uprooting international stumps
This is something that I saw with my own eyes.
One heck of a scene is how I would tend to describe it.
I was still a schoolboy then and one of my uncles took me to the Colombo Oval to watch MCC play All-Ceylon in 1969.
Kehel opened the bowling and one of England’s openers was Geoff Boycott. Anyone who has an iota of knowledge or is a cricket fan knows very well that the Yorkshireman was not the easiest man to dislodge.
On this day however, I think in the very second ball, Kehel bowled a beauty at express speed and Geoff Boycott’s stumps were shattered and ended up in various places.
What a sight it was and I was thrilled, being a great fan of the ‘Kandyan Express’.