Apr 11, 2017

Bertie Wijesinghe's funeral tomorrow

The funeral of late Bertie Wijesinghe will take place at Kanatta on Wednesday.

Wijesinghe, the oldest Sri Lankan cricketer passed away on Saturday at the age of 96.

He coached generations of Sri Lankan cricketers both at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia and Trinity College, Kandy.

Former Sri Lanka captain Anura Tennekoon was coached by him and more recently Kumar Sangakkara benefited by his coaching. Late Mr. Wijesinghe also taught English and Latin at Trinity.

Even the Wettimuny brothers – Sidath, Sunil and Mithra were coached by him.

Veteran cricket administrator and former Sri Lanka cricketer Chandra Schafter was also coached by him.

"Bertie Wijesinghe was nine years my senior and he coached me at S. Thomas. He was an outstanding coach," Schafter, who is 87-years-old told The Island.

"He played for S. Thomas’ for four years and captained the team. He was the Most Outstanding Schoolboy Cricketer in the 1939," Schafter added.

"He represented a SSC side full of stars. In 1940s there wasn’t much cricket due to the World War and he represented Sri Lanka in 1949 when the West Indies came over," Schafter recalled.

"He was the perfect coach as he was able to demonstrate whatever he wanted his players to do. On and off the field, he was a thorough gentleman," Schafter added.

Sangakkara was so fond of late Wijesinghe that two years ago on the eve of the first Test against India in Galle, he rushed to Colombo to visit his coach, who fell very ill.

"Extremely saddened to hear of the passing of Mr. Bertie Wijesinghe. Tremendous influence on me as a coach and human being. Rare gem of a man," Sangakkara tweeted.