Uncle Percy is 85 today – by Rex Clementine by Rex Clementine
Cheerleader Percy Abeysekara turns 85 today. In his own words, ‘two years younger than Sir Garry Sobers and fitter than Sobers.’
Percy has been around cricket grounds cheering his beloved Sri Lanka and his favourite players for over 50 years now. Percy has many high profile friends in the sport.
Former India captain Ravi Shastri once wrote, ‘Percy, don’t lose your voice. Sri Lanka needs it more than you.’
Former New Zealand captain late Martin Crowe once gave away his Man of the Match award to Percy.
Once Percy was arrested in Australia; for entering the field of play. Michael Clarke and Adam Gilchrist protested. ‘Don’t make this an international crisis,’ they warned. Percy has friends even in the Aussie dressing room.
Cops in Australia are hard-nosed. They apparently give too hoots about what their Prime Minister thinks when it comes to implementing the law. But the few hours that Percy spent with them made them realize that this was not an overenthusiastic cricket fan. This is someone who had seen Don Bradman, Keith Miller, Neil Harvey et al.
Percy then asked the cops whether they knew the best advice Vic Richardson, Australia’s former captain gave his grandson Ian Chappell. They said no. ‘If you ever get a chance to captain Australia, don’t do it like a Victorian.’
Now the arrest happened in the tiny city of Hobart in the small state of Tasmania. The cops actually were having a laugh that an outsider was taking a dig at a larger state. Percy knew the Aussie mentality.
He didn’t stop there. He quoted Shakespeare and Donne and the cops were overwhelmed. Not only was he let off without being charged, the cops were also seen taking pictures with Percy, an international icon.
Percy’s wit is his best friend.
Once a fan shouted. ‘Percy go home.’
Percy asked, Your home’
Once late Gamini Dissanayake asked, ‘Percy, why don’t you join the Cricket Board.’
Percy said, ‘Sir, there are three palanas I don’t like.
One is Cricket palana.
The second is deshapalana.
The third is upath palana.’
JR Jayewardene, another President of the board had also asked the same question a few years back. Percy replied him poetically. ‘Sir, I would rather be on the footboard than the Cricket Board.’
Here’s a man who has brought smiles to many cricket fans and players. We wish Uncle Percy well.