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FLASHBACK: Memorable innings of 235 n.o. by Tyrone Le Mercier in 1962

Posted on 22 June 2017 by admin

Tyrone Le Mercier – Represented St. Peter’s College for five
years and best remembered for his brilliant 235 n.o. against

By Upali Obeyesekere – Inaugural President, Josephian-Peterite Alumni Association – Canada (1993).

Tyrone with his wife Jean

Tyrone with his wife Jean

Going down memory lane, one cannot forget a name that was synonymous with school cricket in Ceylon, in the late fifties and early sixties. Tyrone Le Mercier was a household name having started his cricket career early in life playing for St. Peter’s College, Colombo in 1959 at age 16. He eventually captained the Peterites in 1963. In an interesting bit of trivia, Tom Le Mercier, Tyrone father was No.4 batsman for the invincible Josephian team in 1933 under Robert Fernando. Le Mercier senior was a batsman and did not bowl and scored 32 runs in the 1933 “Big Match”. The Josephians won this game by an innings and 105 runs.

One must remember that school cricket was very competitive at the time and the standard of cricket was very high. Most schools had players who went on to represent clubs at the premier “Sara Trophy” level and also nationally. Names that come to mind include Michael Tissera, Anura Tennekoon, Sarath Seneviratne, L.S. Perera, Ronnie Reid, Lareef Idroos (S. Thomas’); David Heyn, Anton Perera, Premasiri Athukorale, Richard Heyn, Adiel Anghie (St. Peter’s); Yatagama Amaradasa, T.D. Rajapaksa, Mohanlal Fernando (Ananda); Nihal Amaradasa (Nalanda); Lorensz Pereira, Darrel Lieversz, S.S. Kumar, Michael Dias, Vijay Malalasekara, Chanaka de Silva (Royal); Priya Perera, Raja de Silva, Tissa de Soysa, Hillary Marcelline, Brian Perumal (St. Joseph’s); Charlie Joseph, Bunny Stevens, Michael Raj, Michael Joseph (St. Anthony’s); T.B. Kehelgamuwa (Dharmaraja); Sarath Wickramaratne, Darrel Maye, Raja Athukorale (Wesley), Sunil Perera, M.T.M. Zarook, Jayantissa Ratwatte (Trinity); Ranjith Fernando, Sunil Fernando, Felix Dias, Neville Casiechetty, Elmo Rodrigopulle (St. Benedict’s) and many others.

Getting back to Tyrone Le Mercier, it was 1959 as a 16-year old he had his baptism to school cricket when he was picked as a leg spinner for St. Peter`s College who had a terrific team that year. Le Mercier bowled left-arm but batted right hand and had a good season but really shone at the Silver Jubilee “Josephian-Peterite Big Match” under the captaincy of Brian Seneviratne. Others in the Peterite team were Richard (Dicky) Alles, Mark de Silva, Randy Layman, Premasiri Athukorale, Adiel Anghie, Richard
Heyn, Anton Perera, Desmond Dharmarajah, and Elmo Gunasekara. The Josephians were led by Claude Perera and included among others Hilary Marcelline, Primrose Fernandopulle, Raja de Silva, Tissa de Soysa, Priya Perera, Travis Perera, and
Kumar Amarasekara. The match ended in a draw but is best remembered for a brilliant spell of spin bowling by 16-year old Tyrone Le Mercier who picked up six wickets for 30 runs in 17.3 overs against a strong Josephian batting line-up. He had the wickets of top batsmen Raja de Silva, Tissa de Soysa, Priya Perera, Travis Perera and Lucky Fernando. Le Mercier swiftly demolished the top order batsmen and the Josephians were back in the pavilion for 157 runs with skipper Claude Perera (26), Hilary Marcelline (55) and Primrose Fernandopulle (20) entering double figures. The Peterites replied with 161 runs for 9 wickets
with Richard Alles (38), Mark de Silva (60) and Richard Heyn (26) been the chief scorers. The Josephians, in their 2nd innings declared at 111 for 7 wickets leaving the Peterites to make 107 runs in about 17-overs. Le Mercier had 2 for 26 in 14-overs and a match bag of 8 wickets in his very first “Big Match”. More importantly though was the fact that he signalled to other schools a naturally gifted ‘leg-spinner’ was born. Le Mercier played in the 1960 Peterite team under Premasiri Athukorale; in 1961 under Adiel Anghie; 1962 under Richard Heyn and captained in 1963. Sadly the “Big Match” was drawn and the Peterites did not
enjoy a victory lap from 1959-1963. But these golden years produced some of the best Peterite cricketers who went on to make a mark in Ceylon, U.K., and Australia. Tyrone Le Mercier had the distinct pleasure of playing alongside greats like Darrel Wimalaratne, David Heyn, Richard Heyn, Maurice Deckker, Peterde Niese, Travis Fernando, Tissa Jayaweera, Rohan Abeysundera, Richard Alles, Didacus de Almeida, Premasiri Athukorale, Adiel Anghie, demon fast bowler who now lives in Los Angeles Anton Perera, Randy Layman, Brian Seneviratne, and Desmond Dharmarajah. Sadly, to my knowledge some of these players (Darrel Wimalaratne, Richard Alles, Didacus de Almeida, Premasiri Athukorale, Brian Seneviratne) are no more and may their souls rest in peace!

Tyrone Le Mercier was best known as a wily left-arm spinner but over time developed into a reliable middle order righthand
bat. In 1960, he was picked “Best Schools’ Bowler” over Priya Perera (SJC), Yatagama Amaradasa (Ananda), M.L. Idroos (S. Thomas’), and Anton Perera (SPC). Dashing Ananda all-rounder Yatagama Amaradasa was picked `Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year“ that year. In 1960 and 1961, Antonian cricketer Charlie Joseph was chosen “Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year”.

1962 was a memorable year for Tyrone Le Mercier. He was Vice Captain to Richard Heyn in the strong Peterite team. Few would recall the classic unbeaten double-century (235 n.o.) Tyrone scored against the Antonians, in Katugastota. Le Mercier had 30 fours and 2 sixes in his marathon knock which lasted little less than four hours. At that time double centuries in school cricket were rare. So, for a few days, the Peterite left-arm leg spinner (remember his 4 for 21 vs Royal and 5 for 8 vs St. Benedict’s) dominated the back page of the mainstream print media. His innings was even compared with record breaking knock of Jack Anderson. “The scintillating unbeaten 235 of Le Mercier was not only the best individual score for the current season but also
the highest since Antonian Jack Anderson’s 291 against the Thomians, in 1918. This splendid achievement admits Tyrone Le Mercier to that select circle of batsmen who have scored double centuries in inter school cricket.”

Following is a compilation of Peterite batsmen who have scored over 150 runs in one inning. Interesting to note that Angelo Perera (4) and Clive Inman (2) are the only Peterites batsmen who had more than one score of 150 runs in their school career. Tyrone Le Mercier is the second highest scorer among the Peterites so far.

1. Angelo Perera – 239 vs Nalanda in (2008)

2. Tyrone Le Mercier – 235 n.o. vs St. Anthony`s (1962)
3. Clive Inman – 204 (Retd Hurt) vs St. Joseph`s (1954)
4. Angelo Perera – 188 vs Revatha MV (2008)
5. Asanga Perera – 178 vs Ananda Sastralaya (1992)
6. Denham Perera – 170 vs St. Benedict`s (2009)
7. H.I.K. Fernando – 165 vs Ananda (1952)
8. Gihan de Silva – 164 vs St. Thomas`- 2002
9. Eric Schokman – 161 vs Zahira (1941)
10. Malinda Warnapura – 159 vs St. Joseph`s (1998)
11. Rory Inman 158 vs St. Thomas' (1968)
12. Angelo Perera 157 vs Kalutara Vidyalaya (2008)
13. Angelo Perera 155 no vs Maris Stella (2008)
14. Clive Inman 154 n.o. vs Nalanda (1955)
15. Sylvester Fernando 154 vs Nalanda (1944)
16. Russel Arnold 153 no vs St. Thomas' (1992)
17. Kitto Fernandopulle 152 no vs Moratu Vidyalaya (1978)
18. Rohan Paulpillai 151 vs Zahira (1986)
19. Shanaka Wickremasekera 150 n.o. vs St. Sylvester's (2004)
20. Frank Hubert 150 vs Thurstan (1975)

Where is Tyrone today?
Tyrone Le Mercier joined the tea trade upon leaving school and immigrated to Australia in the early seventies. He married his childhood sweetheart Jean (nee de Zilwa) and now lives in Melbourne. They have one son – Michael. A simple, unassuming, and soft spoken cricketer of yester-year – Tyrone and Jean enjoy visiting Sri Lanka, U.K., U.S.A. and places. He visits family often in Los Angeles, California and even visited us here in Toronto about five years back and was happy to patronise the local Dinner Dance with the Gypsies presented by the combined Josephian – Peterite Alumni Association of Canada. He loves meeting his former school mates and those who played alongside him in the five years he represented his Alma Mater. Pictured here are Tyrone and Jean in a recent photo.

(The writer Upali Obeyesekere is from Toronto, Canada and a school mate of Tyrone Le Mercier. Any comments from our readers’ are welcome. Please e-mail upaliobey@rogers.com )

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