, Sri Lanka's first Test captain and a former coach and administrator, has died aged 68 at a private hospital in Colombo. He was understood to have been struggling with diabetes and was rushed to the ICU last week following a spike in his blood sugar levels. He had briefly recovered before his situation worsened on Monday. He leaves behind his wife, daughter, two sons and grandchildren.
The Sri Lanka national side will be wearing black arm bands during their T20 World Cup match against Namibia on Monday as a tribute to Warnapura, SLC said. The Under-19 team that played against Bangladesh in the second Youth ODI in Dambulla on Monday was also seen wearing the same.
Warnapura, an old boy of Nalanda College, played 12 ODIs and four Tests in an international career spanning seven years from 1975-1982. He captained the side in each of his Tests and eight ODIs, including Sri Lanka's maiden Test
in 1982 against England. His 38, while opening the batting in the second innings of that game, would remain his highest Test score.
He made his ODI debut against the West Indies at the 1975 World Cup, and in the same tournament, he scored a memorable 39-ball 31 against an Australian attack led by Jeff Thomson and Dennis Lillee. His sole international half-century came in 1982 in an ODI against Pakistan in Karachi, a 98-ball 77 in a losing cause. He was also a useful right-arm medium pacer picking up eight wickets in ODIs and has the distinction of being one of the few players to have both opened the bowling and the batting in the same Test.
Warnapura's international career, however, was cut short when he was handed a life ban by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) for touring South Africa with a rebel team in 1982-83. Once the ban was lifted many years later, Warnapura returned to SLC as an administrator following his retirement.
He was part of several cricket and selection committees during his time with the national board, while he has also served in a coaching capacity in the 1990s. Most notably, he was a director of operations at SLC in the early 2000s. In 2008, he resigned from his role at SLC to serve as development manager of the Asian Cricket Council.
Warnapura was also due to make a return to the administrative fold earlier this year, contesting for the post of vice-president at SLC. However, he withdrew citing a lack of faith in Sri Lanka's sports administrators to right several shortcomings he and his team had pointed out. Primary among Warnapura's criticism was SLC's bloated voting structure where the elections utilise 147 votes among 86 stakeholders.