Former Sri Lanka seamer Tony Opatha has died from a suspected stroke on Friday morning in Colombo, at the age of 73. He was in hospital for past several days.
Opatha had played five ODIs, across the 1975 and 1979 World Cups, and was known as a domestic stalwart through the 1970s, playing for the Air Force - of which he was a serviceman - and the Nondescripts Cricket Club. He also played a year of club cricket in Ireland, and later played in the Netherlands.
He is remembered as arguably Sri Lanka's finest seam bowlers of the 1970s, largely due to his brisk pace and control. He had been among the islands' first cricketers to play club cricket in England and was influential in creating similar opportunities for other Sri Lankan players of the era.
Opatha also infamously led Sri Lanka's rebel tour to South Africa in 1982-83 as a player-cum-manager, for which he and his teammates were given life bans and attracted harsh judgement from both Sri Lanka's government and the island's cricket establishment. Opatha eventually won back some acceptance; in 2018, he was among 49 players to be honoured by Sri Lanka Cricket for their services to cricket.