Sri Lanka spinner Neil Chanmugam dies aged 73

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Neil Chanmugam, an off-spinning hero of Sri Lanka’s pre-Test era, died this week aged 73 of cancer.  Here is what ESPN Cricinfo has to say about a man who was an integral part of bringing international recognition to Sri Lankan cricket.

Chanmugam was an integral part of the Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was known then) cricket team that created history by beating Pakistan and India for first time in unofficial Tests in the sixties.

He broke into the limelight when he scalped five English batsmen for 43 runs to dismiss Ted Dexter’s MCC team for 159 while representing Ceylon Cricket Association. Two years later, he he helped his country secure their maiden unofficial Test victory, over Pakistan A at the P Sara Oval in 1964. Chanmugam took 4 for 28 off 12.3 overs as Pakistan were shot out for 99 in the first innings in reply to Ceylon’s 152.

Chanmugam was also a member of the Ceylon team that recorded its maiden unofficial Test victory over India by six wickets at Ahmedabad a few months later, although he didn’t make a major contribution. For a decade, he formed Ceylon’s four-pronged spin attack, along with fellow offspinner Abu Fuard and left-arm spinners Anuruddha Polonowita and Fitzroy Crozier. International competition at the time was few and far between and the players had to look forward to matches to prove their competence.

“We were more or less starved of international cricket compared to today. Actually I don’t know whether I could have coped with the amount of cricket our chaps go through today,” Chanmugam had said.

You can read the full story here.

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