Bertie Wijesinghe, the former Ceylon-representative cricketer and coach, died on Saturday aged 96. Wijesinghe, an allrounder who bowled offspin and medium pace, represented S Thomas' College Mt Lavinia from 1936 to 1939. He then moved to SSC, and played for Ceylon in the pre-Test era.
Wijesinghe's greatest contribution, though, was as a coach. The Wettimuny brothers - Sunil, Mithra and Sidath - who all played for the Sri Lanka were coached by Wijesinghe.
"Whatever skills we learnt from cricket we owe it to him," Sidath Wettimuny said. "He was a fabulous coach, the best in the business. His knowledge and the way he transferred that knowledge to us was fantastic. Bertie lived a full life and was one of the greatest cricketers produced by SSC and one of the best coaches the country has produced."
Former Sri Lanka and SSC captain Anura Tennekoon also paid tribute to Wijesinghe: "He helped me to brush up my technique from school to club level. He was very good at putting the basics right of a cricketer whether it be batting or bowling, that was his main strength."
Wijesinghe had also worked as the sports editor of the Daily News from 1953 to 1972 and, alongside another SSC stalwart Lucien de Zoysa, provided ball-by-ball commentary on radio.