BARCLAY GORDON ‘BUDDY’ REID Elmo Rodrigopulle
There have been a few instances of sets of brothers playing for their schools, clubs and with some of them going on to sport Sri Lanka caps.
Among them the leaders were the nine Fernandopulle brothers who played and all kept wickets for St.Benedict’s College, Kotahena which deserves mention in the Guinness Book of the records, AMENDRA brothers from Mahinda College Galle, the RANATUNGA and WETTIMUNY brothers from Ananda College also come to mind.
But five brothers to play school cricket and excel for St. Thomas’ College, the school by the sea at Mount Lavinia were the REID brothers – CLAUDE, RONNIE, BUDDY, BARNEY and TINY.
It is said that there were five Saram brothers who played for the Mount Lavinia school before the REID’S.
But of the five brothers the most outstanding and who became a double international was BARCLAY GORDON ‘BUDDY’ REID who played cricket and Table Tennis for the country and also captained Ceylon against MCC in 1968/69. A rare and proud feat one might say who is our ‘SPORTS LEGEND’ today..
‘BUDDY’ started his cricketing career as an opener. And how he became an opener is interesting. The coach at STCML at that time Lassie Abeywardena had picked 10 out of the under 12 squad and was looking for an opening batsman to make up the final eleven.
‘BUDDY’ who was not in the 10 . When Abeywardena mentioned that he was looking for an opener who could face the new ball, ‘BUDDY’ put his hand up and padded up in that position and hugged that slot as he moved on playing in the first XI side, University, BRC and Ceylon.
Only one season
Interestingly he played for the school only in one season. That was in 1959 under tearaway fast man Dennis Ferdinands. He was keen and looking forward like all Royal-Thomian cricketers do, to play in the ‘Battle of the Blues’. He was all keyed up when he received a letter saying that he was eligible for admission to Medical College. That ended his school career.
‘BUDDY’ was a buddy to anyone who made his acquaintance. He was a reliable opening batsman with tons of concentration offering a straight bat and made big runs while his career progressed. He was a crafty leg spinner too and troubled the best of batsmen with bowling variations.
After a promising school career in both cricket and ping pong, ‘BUDDY’ had his first feel of ball on bat at the University was when he came under the captaincy of that former Peterite batsman, captain and wicket keeper who was later classed the best gloveman in Asia Dr. Herbert I.K. Fernando.
Fernando who spotted ‘BUDDY’ the first time predicted a bright future for him. He did not prove Fernando wrong and lived up to his prediction by making big runs in the Uni and in making a big 170 against Catamarans in 1960 in ‘Sara’ Trophy cricket. He pocketed the Macan Markar trophy for the highest score of the season. Whatever has happened to that trophy now?.
‘BUDDY’ during his career headed the ‘SARA’ trophy averages twice in the ‘62/’63 and the ‘63/’64. The 62/’63 season saw Carlyle Perera as captain when the Colombo University emerged champions. And in ‘63/’64 ‘BUDDY’ captained.
‘BUDDY’S achievements did not go unnoticed by the cricket selectors of that era who rightfully gave him his national cap selecting him to front up to Australia’s side led by Bobby Simpson in 1964. Making his debut he left his mark with a stand of 68 in just 29 minutes with his school mate Michael Tissera who was the captain.
Member of winning team
‘BUDDY’ was a member of the team that chalked up its first unofficial Test victory against Pakistan led by that dashing opening batsman Imtiaz Ahmed. If my memory serves me right at the end of the game Ahmed made some flimsy excuses blaming the wicket and the weather for their defeat which criticism did not go down well with the Pakistan Cricket Board who reprimanded Ahmed.
‘BUDDY’ also played in the first Sri Lankan team to beat England in a 60-over game in 1969 where with the writer’s team mate at SBC Ranjit Fernando they hoisted an opening stand of 121 with ‘Buddy’ digging in with 57 and Fernando 58. Both remaining unbeaten.
Then again the pair was involved in an unbroken stand of 118 in the second innings in an unofficial Test against England with ‘BUDDY’ unbeaten on 50 and Fernando too unbeaten on 59. Of the bowlers England had in that team was fast man John Snow.
Snow had tormented the Aussie batsmen ‘down under’. An Aussie spectator annoyed by the short pitched bowling by Snow pulled him by the shirt when he was fielding on the boundary which prompted Captain Ray Illingworth to take the team off the field for a while to allow tempers to cool. ‘BUDDY’ also had the good fortune of captaining Sri Lanka.
But it was in table tennis that he represented the country most. To be a great TT player one must be fit, have a quick eye, agile and have the repertoire of strokes that could make one a player of international class. And ‘BUDDY’ had it all in full abundance.
He pocketed the national singles title for three years. He also showed his dexterity in the doubles event by winning the title six times. His partner in winning it four times was Nimo Ramachand and once with that great player and administrator Charlie Daniel and again with his brother Barney.
Captained the country
Not satisfied, he went on to also captain the country at TT at the Asian Games in Bangkok, the Asian TT Championships in Singapore and the international in Peking, China.
‘BUDDY’ and his family later moved to Australia, where he continued to be better than most Australians in TT. In 2007 he won the Victorian State Championship Masters event and repeated this success in New Zealand. But a treasured moment was when he won Silver Medal at the World Masters Championships in 2006 partnered by Igor Klaf.
‘BUDDY’ showed that he has not lost the thirst for further success when a few months back also partnered by Igor Kalf they won the over 75 doubles title at the World TT Championships in Las Vegas. Great when one considers that DR. BUDDY REID a Sri Lankan still continues to stay in the game keeping himself extremely fit. An example to all sports people.