BY: S. S. PERERA
One of the few Royalists to get his name in the prestigious “WISDEN CRICKETERS’ ALMANACK”, is Ajith Chrysantha Stephen Perera, who received the worthy recognition to be amongst EIGHT CRICKET PEOPLE FOR 1999. Ajith as he is known to all, has spent over 25 years taking much interest in the technical and training side of cricket, for which he even sacrificed a much prosperous professional career as a Chartered Chemist and a Senior Manager.
After his education first at the Primary School (1957-62) and then at Royal College (1963-71), he entered the University of Colombo (1972-77). He played cricket for the University and its Staff teams during this period and in 1975 also qualified as an Umpire from the Association of Cricket Umpires Sri Lanka, on whose executive committee he served during (1982-88). He went to England many times from his own money and first qualified as a professional Umpire (1985), then as a Scorer (1987) and again in 1990 as a competent training instructor. In ^.988 he was responsible for organising a very successful personality development seminar for the ACU titled “the Effective Umpire”. In 1996 at the request of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board, he single handedly revised the rules and playing conditions for all tournaments conducted by the BCCSL rectifying many a critical shortcoming. He was also responsible for planning and conducting single handedly a training program for the BCCSL Scorers selected for the U-19 World Cup Tournament here, the first ever formal training for scorers in Sri Lanka. Ajith now a life member of ACUSL since 1999, was die author of a well researched 242 page book titled “The Golden Era of Sri Lankan Crickef published in 1998.
In 1992 November, he was selected to the Six Member panel of Test Match Umpires by the BCCSL. Before that in 1990 Ajith was afforded the rare honour by the prestigious Lancashire County in England to Umpire for 16 weeks in their best Leagues and County 2nd XI games at famous Old Trafford. In worthy recognition of his achievements and services to the game, prestigious Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack 2000 selected him as one of the Eight Cricket People for 1999. 1 very much believe, he’ is the first and only Royalist to receive such worthy recognitions and bring honour to Sri Lanka as a non test player.
Some reference is necessary in his educational sphere. I believe no other academician who has such prestigious qualifications .has ventured into any aspects of Cricket here. Its rare feats to qualify simultaneously in many an avenue of two different fields of Cricket and Chemistry and bring honour to Royal and the Country. He graduated with B.Sc. (Honours) in 1975 and then completed Ins Master of Science Degree in Analytical Chemistry, with Quality Assurance as his field of specialisation. For Ills worthy contributions he received the highest recognition in being elected as a FELLOW of Three International Bodies, The Royal Society of Chemistry London, Institute of Chemistry Ceylon and The Institute of Quality Assurance England. Besides these he is a member of numerous other international bodies and is the worthy recipient of an honorary degree of Doctor of Philosophy by tile Open International University. Ajith started life as a University Lecturer and soon moved into Industry first with Glaxo Ceylon Limited and then holding key Senior Managerial positions (1980-1992) with Mackwoods Winthrop and Hemas Manufacuring Limited, until cruel fate struck him down in 1993.
Absence of even tile basic facilities for Accessibility- to buildings on Wheel Chairs even to Professionals like Ajith, has deprived him opportunities to offer his services to Cricket even as a third umpire and also to our Society. Yet, he remains quite mobile on his Wheel Chair and much determined overcoming adversity to be of mutual benefit. I believe many of our Royalist, both Young and not so Young, could easily find ways and means to assist a personality like Ajith, who has still much to contribute to the game we love so much and also to the Society’ and the Country.