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J A Halangoda

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Article submitted to the 1957 September issue of the College magazine on J A Halangoda by Rev A J Foster.

The Rev'd Canon A J Foster M A (Oxan) was the Chaplain of The Chapel of The Transfiguration, S Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia from 1933 to 1946. Thereafter Chaplain at Gurutalawa until his death in 1964.


It was in 1932 that John Halangoda, who had previously given many years to cricket coaching at Trinity College, Kandy, began a close connection with S. Thomas' College. It would be scarcely and exaggeration to say that he was a man who lived cricket, talked it, and thought it. I was one of his talents, and he used it to the full. Sometimes as a visonary his ideas would rub away with him, but there was no doubt at all that the rather short, broad, - shouldered, and slightly hunched figure soon could justly be proud of the achievements of those boys at S. Thomas' who had the good fortune to come under his influence. He expected much and he generally got it. He has the happy knack of combining firmness with fun. Above all he taught the necessity of teamwork, and the need of loyalty to the captain. As the school season got under way, the captain would receive many a briefing in his room in Thalassa.

If, I were asked for his main contribution to Thomian cricket, I think I should say it was as a batting coach. He was able to inspire boys with confidence, and very often a Number 8 and even a Number 9 in the teams he coached would make a half century when called upon. He developed a boy's natural talent, gave him the necessary confidence for success. He had in certain matter an originality of approach as when he would sometimes tie the upper arms of a batsman loosely to his body in order to compel him to go to the pitch of the ball in order to play it.

He was himself a keen sea bather, but he took a suspicious view of the effects swimming in the new swimming bath would have on members of the cricket XI ! A bathe in the sea, perhaps - if permission was obtained - but the swimming bath might spoil their cricket !

It is not difficult to imagine him still, on the grounds at Mount Lavinia, occasionally batting in the nets as he made some typically screaming off - drives, and looking pleased ; or bowling a particularly wicked leg - break which would have his star batsmen all at sea. He enjoyed that ! And then at the end of a strenuous two and a half house, he would come to me and say, as he held his ribs, "Governor, I'm finished ! But he wasn't ; for fifteen years later, he was still coaching cricket in his native Kandy as S. Anthony's.

John Halangoda was a real character, and those who were in the Thomian teams of 1933 to 1937 will have their own delightful and often amusing reminiscenes of him. It was fitting that the Rev. T. G. Elliott of Trinity College, Kandy, and one who was his successor as cricket coach at Mount Lavinia, should have officiated at his funeral. It would have pleased him too to know that the present cricket coach at S. Thomas' is no other than the captain of the first Thomian team that he coached.

A. J. F.