FIBA conducts basketball communication workshop in Colombo – The Island

by Rex Clementine

Former Sri Lanka rugby captain Chandrishan Perera passed away at the age of 60 after being ill for a while.

We leave the rugby experts to talk about his exploits on the field in that sport and discuss here his time with the cricket board.

In 1999, when Thilanga Sumathipala launched Sri Lanka Cricket’s first ever media unit, he chose Chandrishan Perera to head the new entity. It was quite a success.

This writer’s first meeting of Shan, as he was popularly known, was at the old Galle press box in 2001 during the England Test. There was no lift in Galle 20 years ago and walking up the stairs, you could hear two gentlemen arguing at top of their voices.

BBC’s Jonathan Agnew was threatening Shan. Agnew showed his mobile phone, something rare those days, and said, ‘If I dial this and speak, the whole world will hear the treatment SLC is giving BBC.’

Now it was Shan’s turn. He showed his phone and shouted. ‘Here’s the f***ing phone mate. Tell the world BBC’s days are over!’

Test cricket was only supposed to be a tough affair for players. Not for a reporter, who was covering his third Test match.

It was quite intriguing too. Who is this local guy shredding to pieces world’s leading media entity and a former Test player?

Later, it emerged that BBC were at fault. Cricket telecast and broadcast had been always BBC’s right in England, even after Kerry Packer had emerged down under. But these were changing times. SLC had sold the broadcasting rights to Talk Sport and BBC had contravened terms of their accreditation. Shan chased Agnew to the Galle Fort. Yes, the exact place SLC had chased us local reporters during the England Tests early this year in Galle.

Later, you also got to know that Agnew and Shan actually knew each other pretty well having played cricket in England.

Shan’s tenure at SLC was quite successful. Since then more than a dozen Media Managers have come and gone but the initiatives and traditions he started still remain.

Shan was also a brilliant commentator. Educated in London his command of the English language was classy. He also had stints as a fitness trainer with Sri Lanka Cricket in the early days. Later, players who had issues with fitness privately hired him. Former captain Sanath Jayasuriya, one of the fittest guys to play the game, used the services of Shan regularly.

Shan returned to Sri Lanka Cricket as Media Manager in 2016. Sri Lanka toured England that year and at the end of the Test series, two of us were behind Lord’s pavilion waiting for Shan to bring along one of the players who had come for the limited over series. This was going to be The Island’s last copy on the tour as we were not going to cover the limited overs series having exhausted our budget.

Shan brought Upul Tharanga. As we were chatting, it started raining. We had enough cover and weren’t getting wet, but the rain was so heavy that we knew that there will be trouble with interview’s audio. So Shan appealed to the steward to let us in to the Lord’s pavilion. The steward politely informed that nobody is allowed inside the Lord’s pavilion without a jacket and a tie. We reporters rarely wear those luxury garments.

Shan then called up an office staff at Lord’s explaining that an exemption must be made as the game is over and no harm in breaking the rule when no one is there to pick a bone with you. We were allowed in. First time at Lord’s pavilion was an unforgettable experience. Thanks to one and only Shan.

After the interview, as the two of us were leaving, Shan called up yours truly, put his arm around and said, ‘The President is making you an offer that you can’t refuse. Stay back for the ODIs.’

The offer was politely turned down. Not because of being a paragon of virtues, but married men need to get their priorities right.

Rest well Shan.

Thank you

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