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Ranil Abeynaike: Hero ‘Thomian Class of 62’

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Ranil Abeynaike Ranil Abeynaike

When somebody known to all who has taken the country by storm is snatched away at an unexpected moment, grief embraces the minds in an unbearable manner. In such a backdrop, popular yesteryear cricketer and cricket commentator Ranil Gemunu Abeynaike passed away at 57 on the morning of February 21, 2012.

Ranil, the man with a mellifluous smile was admired by millions of cricket fans in this country. As a commentator, Ranil had a very high command of the English Language and the knowledge of the game. A soft spoken Abeynaike always greeted criticism with a smile. I met Ranil in my class at S.Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia in 1962, having spent two years at primary level at STC Prep, Colpetty. He was a quiet unassuming lad who always read about cricketing legends from that time. To cricket, he was inspired by his father, Orville Abeynaike, a fine bowler who captured 8 wickets for 60 runs at the 1941 Royal-Thomian encounter.

Fondly addressed as ‘Abey’ in school, Ranil tread on his path in his own inimitable style leading the school cricket team to the field  with an one shoulder down stylish walk. The gentle qualities he inherited earned him many friends. Ranil Abeynaike was one man who had no foes in his entire lifetime. He was the landmark of the 1962 Thomian Class and we realised it after leaving school. After bidding goodbye to the school by the sea, whenever we introduced ourselves as Thomians, the first question that came our way was – In which batch were you?-. The spontaneous response was ‘Ranil Abeynayake followed by Ajith Abeygunewardene’, the two cricketers of our era who stormed the centre stage in school cricket. The name of Ranil Abeynaike established our identity beyond any reasonable doubt.

Not undermining others who have done well after leaving school to be popular like Kesaralal Gunesekere (Politician),Rajaseelan Gnanam (Businessman), the late Romesh Jayasinghe (Former Foreign Secretary) and a few others in the academic field, undoubtedly,  Ranil Abeynaike’s popularity was the landmark of our era when times are recalled to memory.

I met Ranil at SSC some years ago and had a long chat with my good classmate after many years. He was then a Columnist for ‘The Island’ newspaper and I was a senior journalist in the same entity. We spoke about life after leaving college. When I said even at a critical time of health I would not go for a bypass surgery if I happened suffered from a cardiac problem one day as I did not want to live on extensions, Ranil shot back – ‘Prasad, for me tomorrow is never mine’ and added that a man must open his eyes to see the rising sun to know he has stepped into another day.

Ranil led a quiet life devoid of anger, hatred and animosity. Perseverance was the hallmark in his noble character. The Thomian Class of 1962 lost a legendary friend with the passing away of Ranil Gemunu Abeynaike. May the greenish turf he played in his lifetime rest softly on the gentle remains of our dear friend. ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

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