A gentleman sportsman who led Sri Lanka to rugby glory at the Asian Rugby Championships in Sri Lanka in 1974 was none other than Indrajith Coomaraswamy who was recently appointed as the Governor of the Central Bank. He was a versatile sportsman and shone at cricket for Royal, Tamil Union and Cambridge University.
The rugby and cricket fraternity believe that Coomaraswamy’s choice as the Governor of the Central Bank is a right one.
Likeable and soft spoken Coomaraswamy was born on April 3, 1950. He is a Sri Lankan economist of the highest calibre.
Squeaky clean and the humble Coomaraswamy was a brilliant student at the Royal College. He obtained his degree in B.A. Economics at Cambridge University and later obtained his Doctorate in Economics at the University of Sussex. He represented Harrow and later Cambridge University in sport with much success.
In the sporting field he has many memorable moments. Under his captaincy Sri Lanka emerged as runner-up to Japan in the 1974 Rugby Asiad played in Colombo.
Though domiciled in UK, he always had his country at heart and strained every nerve and sinew to help.
Coomaraswamy married Tara, a charming lady. She gave him all the encouragement to go places. Imagine playing round the year (cricket and rugby) and learning from books and men. He is blessed with two children.
His father Raju who was an ambassador of rare breed was fondly tagged ‘Roving Raju’. His uncle Sathi Coomaraswamy was a rare right arm seam and swing bowler and hard hitting bat for his club, the Tamil Union and also his country.
Coomaraswamy was a stylish cricketer. He was first coached by Old Josephian, the late S. Johnpillai and played for the Royal College under-14 team. His first coach nursed and nurtured him teaching him to always wield a straight bat. Later it was uncle Sathi who coached him at the Tamil Union Athletic Club.
He did not play for Royal at senior level because his father enrolled him at Harrow for Higher Studies. But his career on and off the field, was first cemented at Royal. At the age of 14 he played for Harrow First XI.
At rugby he was coached by Mahes Rodrigo, Summa Navaratnam and Kavan Rambukwella. Mahes was a pillar at Royal College, CR and FC and Sri Lanka Rugby. At rugby his favourite club was CR and FC and at cricket it was Tamil Union.
He led his club CR and FC after leading the country from 1976 to1977. He became the first sevens captain of CR and FC in 1976.
When he led the country at the 1974 ASIAD, his squad included players such as Nizar Hadji Omar, Alphonso Rodrigo, Jeyer Rodriguesz, Lanil Tennakoon, Dr. Maiya Gunasekara, Jeffery de Jong, Anton Benedict, Hanzil Samad, Hafi Abdeen, Reginald Bathlomeusez, Didacus de Almeda, Omar Sherif, Mahes Sabaratnam, Shafi Jainudeen, Jeffery Yu, Charles Wijewardene, G.B. Gunadasa and M.F. Fernando.
In the final of the ASIAD, played at Longden Place, Sri Lanka drew first blood through a penalty by Charles Wijawardene. In the first half the Japanese were able to score 18 points against Sri Lanka’s 3. In the final whistle the scoreboard read Japan 44 (4 goals, and 5 ties) to Sri Lanka’s 6 (2 penalties).