The cricketer

Chandra Schaffter opened bowling for Ceylon against England in 1954. A successful businessman, he later mentored Sri Lanka to World Cup victory in 1996. He talks about the early days of international cricket in the country, the changing face of club cricket in Sri Lanka and the potential of the game to bring communities together. Photography by Kannan Arunasalam.

Join the discussion: 4 comments

  • Kannan Arunasalam says:

    I met Chandra Schaffter at the Tamil Union sports club. For nearly forty years the club had the only ground on which international matches could be played. The only ground then to have a covered stadium and a scoreboard, which the Madras Cricket Association would later copy. This was where Mr Schaffter opened bowling for Ceylon in 1954 and he had been a member since.

    Mr Schaffter’s roots were in Southern India. His grandfather, Peter Adolphus was a catechist a kind of assistant priest to a missionary called Schaffter. He was sent out in 1870 to work with the priest to one of the missions in the Ceylon plantations and later decided to settle on the island. His father had been given the name Schaffter out of respect for the priest.

    We walked down the corridors of the pavilion, past the names of legendary Tamil Union players.

    What did he think now about these clubs that were based along ethnic lines? To me, they felt wrong. Did he not think they were discriminatory? Of course the club rules had been relaxed, and that was natural and good, he said, but he defended the archaic system of membership. It had been these clubs that made Sri Lankan cricket what it is today and something to celebrate.

    Later, I took a tour and met the ground staff and those working behind the scenes of the historic scoreboard. Like the members and players now, they too were from different ethnicities of Sri Lanka.

  • Helga Perera says:

    Well done Kannan. Another great truffle. So enjoy all your work. Thank you so very much for allowing us this privilege. Brilliant, fascinating, documentation. All the very best, Helga

  • Weaving Hope (@WeavingHopeUK) says:

    RT @joeyeates: A beautiful portrait of early Sri Lankan cricket: #bbccricket


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