Mr. D.H. de Silva, fondly known as Hema, Old Mahindian and former Municipal Commissioner of Kandy, under the Rajan Mayor, Tilak Ratnayake passed away in Melborune on Saturday 27th April at the age of 81. He was the eldest among the famous cricketing de Silva brothers of Mahinda starting with D.S.de. Silva who played for Sri Lanka and later was Chairman SLC.
Hema was Dharmaraja cricket coach for several years in the early Eighties, free of charge. He produced several excellent and stylish cricketers during his time. For the first time, he taught Rajans to think strategically, to play to win. Thus, under his tutelage, Dharmaraja won the Under 17 inter-school cricket championship beating Isipathana in the Final, at the Colts cricket grounds. Unfortunately he left after disagreeing with College administration, himself being a man of strong views. He also conducted a free cricket coaching class at the Bogambara grounds for all youngsters every Saturday where many Rajans too picked up their basics.
As Municipal Commissioner, Hema did a tremendous service to popularize table tennis in Kandy and Dharmaraja TT naturally benefited. His son Dandeniya did a lot of TT coaching, again free of charge, at the Municipal Centres and in some schools like Pushpadana.
D.H. also ran a Saturday early morning tennis coaching camp for youngsters, at the Garden Club, again free of charge, where many Rajans too picked up their tennis. He sent them to Colombo to participate in the SLTA tournaments. Kumar Sangakkara then as a ten year old boy, learnt his tennis rudiments under DH at the Garden Club. Kumar became a very good tennis player under his watchful eyes. It was later that he switched over to cricket. He did not fail to call on his old guru whenever he visited Melbourne for cricket.
D.H. de Silva had a tremendous passion to help the down trodden and underprivileged children . That is why he did all his services free of charge. He also had a tremendous desire to help Buddhist Schools like Dharmaraja. In his anger at being deprived to complete his task at Dharmaraja he later began to coach at St. John’s college Getambe,(now Mahanama) who had just started cricket.
Finally he left the country in disappointment when he unfortunately became the victim of an attempted pistol attack during the JVP times (1988) while he was at tennis at the Garden Club one day. He continued his tennis coaching in Melbourne too.
May his sojourns in Samsara be short.