Bandula Warnapura, who led Sri Lanka in their maiden Test, passed away on Monday (October 18) while receiving treatment in a private hospital. The 68-year-old played four Tests and 12 ODIs for his country.
“Sri Lanka Cricket is deeply saddened to learn of the passing away of Bandula Warnapura, Sri Lanka’s first Test captain,” the release said. “We wish to express our condolences to the family at this difficult time on behalf of Sri Lanka’s cricketing fraternity,” the release added.
The former opener made his ODI debut in the 1975 World Cup game against the West Indies at Old Trafford. In his next game, he scored a brisk 39-ball 31 against the fearsome pace pair of Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson. In the very next World Cup in 1979, he captained Sri Lanka to a famous victory against India. He notched up his highest ODI score of 77 versus Pakistan in the 1981-82 season but it went in vain as Sri Lanka slipped to an eight-wicket loss.
Warnapura went on to captain Sri Lanka in their first-ever Test versus England in Colombo in 1982. He faced Sri Lanka’s first delivery and scored their first run in Test cricket. In that game, he also achieved the rare record of opening the batting and opening the bowling (second innings) in the same Test match. Warnapura soon decided to tour South Africa with the rebel side.
The 68-year-old made his first-class debut against the Indian Universities in 1970. The turning point of his first-class career came during the 1973-74 season when he compiled 154 against Pakistan Under-25. During that season, he also accumulated a fine 92 versus a Pakistan XI in a four-day game. The Pakistan XI had Test match bowlers like Asif Masood, Saleem Altaf and Intikhab Alam.
After retiring from the game, he served as the coach of the Sri Lankan set-up and then went on to become the Director of Coaching.