Anyone completing an uninterrupted service for over half a century in an institution could be considered an indefatigable person. After 53 years of continuous service at Sri Lanka Cricket former all Ceylon cricketer Anurudha Polonowita has decided to retire from his present national curator post.
Since his playing days at Ananda where he captained his school in the under 14, under 16 and 1st XI, Polonowita has never looked back serving his alma mater and his country’s cricket in no uncertain terms and in various capacities after his playing days. His capabilities as a prominent figure at the Sri Lanka Cricket Board was beyond doubt and one could say that he has been involved almost in every position of the Institution from player to administrator. During Polonowita’s era which spans from 1958-2013 as a player and an administrator Sri Lanka Cricket had undergone many transitions and Polonowita was part of it. His contribution to Ananda cricket with the late P.W. Perera is immeasurable. Polonowita’s tenure as the Ananda College cricket coach for 38 years made Ananda the best cricket playing school for many years and remained undisputed champions. He went on to produce over 25 Test and ODI players which included two Test captains namely Arjuna Ranatunga and Marvan Atapattu. More than 15 talented under 19 players and ‘A’ team players have been under his scrutiny.
After representing the Sri Lanka Schools Under 19 team in 1958 in a triangular series involving Sri Lanka, India and Australia which Sri Lanka won, Polonowita made his debut for the country as an all-rounder in 1960. He played against almost all Test playing nations in an era where Test cricket was not played in the country and Sri Lanka pressing hard for full membership of the ICC.
Polonowita was an automatic choice for the then, Ceylon team as a balanced all-rounder. His left arm spin and useful late order batting coupled with his exemplary fielding specially in the ‘gully’ position made him an important ‘cog’ in the team’s machinery.
He was a member of the Ceylon team that toured India in 1962 which recorded a historic win under Michael Tissera, the India team was captained by the late Nawab Of Pataudi (Mansur Ali Khan). Incidentally this win, in an unofficial Test, happens to be the only one Sri Lanka has recorded against a fully fledged Indian team in India. Sri Lanka are still looking for that elusive Test win on Indian soil.
Likewise Polonowita was a member of the ‘Ceylon’ team that beat Pakistan in an unofficial Test played at the Colombo Oval. Michael Tissera had the honour of leading the team once again.
The Pakistan team was led by Imitiaz Ahamed and had the players of the calibre of Javed Burki and Intikhab Alam and had a galaxy of top players.
Besides being a member almost in every possible position sans the top post of President of SLC, Polonowita mastered the art of pitch preparation visiting countries like Australia, New Zealand and Pakistan.
He was appointed as the national curator in 1994 – 2000 on an honorary basis and his expertise in pitch preparation had given him the opportunity for the pitch preparation at the 1996 World Cup held jointly in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka which the Lankans won. He was also the curator during the Champions Trophy, Asia Cup, World Cup 2011 and the T20 World Cup 2012.
Polonowita after taking up the job as curator from year 2000 has prepared 86 Test pitches and 174 ODI pitches. It was his pitch preparation that saw Sri Lanka piling up the highest Test score of 926 at the R. Premadasa Stadium against India and the highest partnership between Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara against South Africa at the SSC.
As the national curator, Polonowita has formed a Curators Department and has seven graduates with Agriculture Degrees who are being trained as curators and made them in charge of the Stadiums managed by SLC. He has also imparted his knowledge and trained the groundsmen employed in clubs playing in the Premier division.
Source – Sunday Observer ( 2013/02/17)