Abu Fuard - One time Asia’s
Best off spinner and Fine Cricket administrator
13, 2010, 8:46 pm
Island Oct 13 2010
"The greatest achievement of my life in cricket, is the fulfillment of one of my ambitions. I took the game of cricket played , to talented under-privileged boys who were mostly from the outstations those from "non elite" schools . During my playing years, I noticed the discrimination meted out to outstation cricketers,
I took upon myself, to fight for the cause of the under privileged cricketers. When I started the campaign against, the so-call of "elite schools", some people opposed me. During this early battle, a team mate of mine, former Ananda College Captain , Dhanasiri Weerasinghe, who is now domiciled in Australia and a few others backed me.
"I, as a person belong to a minority community, is happy today to see outstation boys, who played for the so-called lesser known schools represent the Sri Lanka national team in a big way", stated Abu Fuard, one time "Asia’s best off-spinner", dedicated and committed Cricket Administrator, Team Manager and a relentless trainer of young cricketers in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
I presume, many people are unaware that this dynamic, cricketer-cum-administrator, Abu Fuard, was mainly instrumental in inviting the late Gamini Dissanayake, to promote Sri Lanka cricket. This great man, Gamini Dissanayake, was responsible in obtaining test status for Sri Lanka. He hand picked Abu Fuard to improve the infrastructure and the administration of cricket. Infact, it was due to efforts of Gamini Dissanayake and Abu Fuard that the present headquarters building of cricket, at Maitland Crescent became a reality., . Also the indoor-nets at the NCC premises, and refurbishing and constructing the Asgiriya Stadium in the hill capital as a test venue. Abu Fuard was the livewire behind improving the cricket structure. He is a man of honesty, integrity and an outspoken personality.
Abu, is a marvellous man - a workoholic. His life is cricket. A strict disciplinarian, he is a man who calls "a spade a spade". He does not tolerate injustice. Sometimes, he is harsh. He is firm with his decisions and he is a fighter, on and off the field. Sometimes, people misunderstood him. But, with my long association with him, I can state here, although he is a "Tough Guy", he possess a golden heart. He won’t give up easily. He fights hard. He stands for fair-play and justice. I have seen him as a Manager, who maintains a very high standard of discipline.
In early the 1950s, Abu Fuard was an outstanding schoolboy cricketer. In 1953, he stroked a chanceless century for Wesley against Richmond College, Galle. With Brian Classen, they, (Abu Fuard) put on a partnership of 231. Both represented Sri Lanka with distinction later.
Abu Fuard was the finest off-spinner produced in the 1950s – 1970s. As a schoolboy in 1953, Abu captured six for 76 against S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. He captured 8 wickets against Royal. While playing against Prince of Wales, Moratuwa, he returned the amazing figures of 9 for 53.
Abu Fuard was born on 6th December, 1936, in Colombo. His illustrious father, A. M. Fuard, captained Wesley College in 1915 and his brother, the late Ansar Fuard, who later became a school teacher opened batting with me for the Education Department in the Government Service Cricket Tournament in the late 1960s, when I was teaching at Nalanda. Abu captained Wesley in 1954.
Abu’s story is fascinating. He was a reliable sportsman. Many people do not know that he was also a fine athlete. He represented Wesley College in the Public Schools meet and competed with the late Lalith Atulathmudali in the 100 metres hurdles.
He started playing cricket in the Under-13 age group , as a fast-bowler. However Wesley College cricket coach the famous Alban Fernando, turned him into an off-spin bowler.
After leaving school, he played cricket for Moors, Colts and CCC. Abu Fuard, represented Sri Lanka from 1956-1971. Undoubtedly, he was the best off-spinner in that era.
I still remember him playing against Australia, in a ‘whistle stop’ tour at the Oval. He bowled extremely well and became the highest wicket taker. If my memory serves right, it was Ritchie Benaud who stated, "we like to take this bloke, Abu to Australia". This shows he was rated high as the best bowler of Sri Lanka at that time.
"Premasara, those days, I used to walk all the way, from 5th Lane, Colpetty, to Colts ground at Havelock town. I start practicing at about 2.30 p.m. I keep an object, sometimes a coin, on the matting. Bowl at it – "spot bowling". By this drill, I improved my length and direction. We were committed, worked hard," stated Abu Fuard.
Fuard first represented Sri Lanka in 1961, against the mighty Australians captained by the great Ritchie Benaud. In 1962, he played against Ted Dexter’s England side. His moment of glory came when he captured six wickets for 31 runs against Joe Lister’s International XI.
Abu Fuard was a "Gutty Fighter". I still remember in early 1960s, in the first unofficial test against India at Ahamadabad, he played a key role in beating India.
"It was a fine team effort. We were left with a victory target of 112 runs. I opened in the second innings. The wicket was a nighmare. There were pot-holes. on the pitch. I scored a quick fire 40. We won the match 45 minutes before the close," stated Fuard.
Abu Fuard was an insurance man by profession. He joined De Soysa and Company, Colombo 2, principal agents for seven major projects, namely Gal Oya, Inginiyagala, Kelanitissa, Victoria Bridge, etc. They did the secretarial work and Abu handled the insurance work.
It was during Robert Senanayake’s tenure, as the President of Sri Lanka Cricket Board, in 1973, that Abu Fuard got involved in cricket administration. Those were the days where dedicated, committed gentlemen got into Cricket Administration in a honorary capacity. J. R. Jayawardene, Dr. N. M. Perera, T. B. Werapitiya, Lakshman Jayakody, were ornaments to Sri Lanka cricket. They never mixed politics with cricket. All those great men played the game. Gamini Dissanayake, although he did not play the game at the highest level, was a lover of cricket and a fine administrator. He was brilliant in selecting the correct man to the correct position.
After retiring from playing cricket, Fuard became a cricket administrator. In 1985, he was appointed full time manager of Sri Lanka cricket. Prior to this, he also functioned as a successful cricket Manager. Further, he was a qualified cricket coach, too.
Under the able guidance of Abu Fuard as manager, Sri Lanka recorded her first Test victory against India on 11th September, 1985, at the Colombo Oval, (now called the Saravenamuttu Stadium). Sri Lanka beat India by 149 run.
Sri Lanka first innings 385 – Second innings – 206 for 3 wkts.
India first innings – 244 - Second innings – 198.
For Sri Lanka Amal Silva scored III, Ranjan Madugalle 54, Roy Dias 95, Duleep Mendis 51. In the 2nd innings. – Sidath Wettimuny 32, Ranjan Madugalle 60 n.o.
For India – K. Srikanth 64, M. Amaranath 60, S. Gavaskar 56, Rumesh Ratnayake 25.1-5-76-4 – 2nd innings – 23.2-6-49-5. India 2nd innings. 198 – Kapil Dev 78. Man of the Match – Amal Silva.
In 1979, Abu Fuard, functioned as the manager, Sri Lanka team for the 1979 World Cup. During this period, Sri Lanka won the ICC Trophy.
Fuard was a member of the selection committee of the BCCSL from 1976-1983. Thereafter, from 1982-1986, he was its chairman.
As a Nalandian, my happiest moment, in cricketing life, was the day that one of my students at Nalanda Bandula Warnapura, who captained Nalanda in the early seventies was elected of Sri Lanka’s first Test captain. I know that it was mainly due to the efforts of Abu Fuard, who proposed the name of Bandula Warnapura. Former Thomian and Ceylon cricketer, the late K. M. T. Perera, as chairman of selection committee, backed Fuard to the hilt. These is all forgotten history now.
Fuard, was a tough talking person. His motto was "Country Before Self". I still remember an incident where Sri Lanka were playing Pakistan at the CCC. One of the opening bowlers, after capturing a wicket in the second over, returned to the pavilion complaining about a "slight pain in his leg". Abu pounced on the bowler.
"Young man, country is greater than your slight pain in the leg. Go out immediately to the centre, perform in the name of your beloved country, Sri Lanka. Then you will forget your pain", stated Fuard.
This incident happened in front of me, and assistant coach, W. A. N. Silva. Although, he erupted like a volcano, in a few minutes, Abu was "cool as a cucumber". That is the nature of Abu Fuard, this fine human being.
Believe me, this particular fast bowler captured five wickets at the end.
Today, Abu Fuard maintains a low profile.
His contribution to Sri Lanka cricket is enormous.