Mascarenhas and the Negombo connection
When England commences its five-match one-day series against
India at the Rose Bowl in Southampton on August 21, the match
will be of special significance to two Sri Lankan parents who
would have flown all the way from Australia to witness their son
The name of Dimitri Mascarenhas will not strike a bell for any
Sri Lankan following the English team because looking at his
profile, there is nothing to associate him with the Emerald
Isle. He was born in Chiswick, Middlesex, grew up in Perth and
returned to England to play for Hampshire, from where he worked
himself up to become a member of the England one-day squad.
His progress for Hampshire has been so much outstanding that he
has won acclaim from none other than Shane Warne, the former
Australian spin ‘great’ who now captains the county. Warne has
been very vocal in his support of Dimitri for the past four or
five seasons and thinks highly of him.
This is what Dimitri had to say of Warne: “Shane is a good mate
of mine and it is nice to have someone of that calibre think you
are pretty good. He wouldn’t say it if he didn’t think it was
“I think I have become a better player since he has been at
Hampshire and his guidance has helped me immeasurably in both my
attitude and my approach to the game. He has helped develop my
cricketing brain, my skills, plans – the sort of stuff I had not
done a lot of previously. He has brought me a long way in the
last few years.”
Where Dimitri’s Sri Lankan connection originates is from his
parents, Malik and Pauline Mascarenhas, who are life members of
the Baratha community of Negombo. Predominantly Roman Catholics,
the community has drawn their lineage to the southeastern coast
of the Indian peninsula, Coromandel Coast.
The ancestors of the Baratha are supposed to have come as pearl
divers to Mannar during the era of the Portuguese, the Dutch and
the British and settled down in the country. They were
originally Tamil-speaking. Barathas (or Paravars in Sinhala) are
recognised as a separate race and registered with the Sri Lankan
Pauline’s father Richard de Croos was a well-known figure in
Negombo and he was fondly referred to by the young and old as
‘Ritchie Uncle.’ Pauline was educated at Ave Maria Convent,
Negombo and at Good Shepherd Convent, Kandy.
Malik played cricket for St. Mary’s College, Negombo. He was
also a champion table tennis player – his house was situated in
the St. Mary’s Church compound and the table tennis table was
virtually ‘at home.’
He also played football for his alma mater and later for Premier
League club, Jupiter SC of Negombo. His brother Chandra also
excelled in both sports but according to Malik, he was the
better cricketer in the family and went onto captain his school
and also represented Negombo CC. The Sri Lankan influence was
the reason for Dimitri’s foray into cricket.
When Dimitri was picked to represent England for the first time
in the Twenty20 one-day matches against West Indies early this
season, it was one of the happiest moments of their lives for
“We were immensely proud as parents and so happy for Dimitri. It
was the happiest day of Dimitri’s life as he lives and breathes
cricket. Finally all the work we put into him since he was about
seven years old had paid off,” Mali k told The Nation.
“Dimitri himself has worked so hard on his cricket for the past
11 years, spending six months of every year in the UK on his
own. He played county cricket with Hampshire from the age of 18
and there were many times he was talked about playing for
England. He was always good enough to play and his performances
in the county games were good. We thought he would be selected a
few years ago,” Malik continued.
“The call did not come until the former Coach, Duncan Fletcher
was dismissed. He was the problem. The new management that took
over thinks Dimitri has something to offer the new look team,”
Now Dimitri has been named in the England squad for the series
against India in his benefit year with Hampshire, which is
another step forward for him in his career.
“It would have been nice for him to play for Sri Lanka. But as a
naturalised Aussie and having been born in England, it would not
have been possible,” said Malik.
Dimitri’s early years were spent in Melbourne and his cricket
loving parents encouraged him to play the game from a very early
age. He played for Ringwood Cricket Club in Melbourne and
Melville Cricket Club in Perth, where Malik has been president
for the past 10 years and played a big role in the development
of cricket in Western Australia.
The Mascarenhas have three sons – all born in different
countries. Malintha, the eldest, was born in Sri Lanka, Dimitri
in England and Shannon in Australia. While Dimitri chose cricket
as his profession, his brothers have chosen to pursue careers in
business and computer science.
“We have a multicultural family and have quite a few arguments
at the dinner table,” said Malik, who owns a few restaurants in
Western Australia where he is presently residing with his wife.
The momentous occasion will arrive if the 29-year-old
all-rounder gets selected to tour Sri Lanka with the England
team for the five-match one-day series in September-October. He
has been to Sri Lanka twice before first as a baby and then as a
13-year-old to see his grandparents and aunts.
“I was very happy when I heard that he was selected to play for
England. Ever since then I have been longing to see him,” said
his 84-year-old grandmother Magdalene de Croos from her Negombo
“I have been to England on six occasions and seen him grow up
from childhood. I have even taken care of him. It would be nice
if I could see him again, especially in Sri Lanka.” Malik’s
sister, who also resides in Negombo, was not available for