has trod the high road
By Bernie Wijesekera
I caught Edward Basil [Tita] Nathanielsz at the Capri. It was an
appropriate place for an encounter with a sporting, social and marketing
Tita was a founder member of the Capri in 1958, President twice
and now an honorary life member. The Capri is still one of his favourite
watering holes in Colombo. Tita was in fine fettle as he walked
me down memory lane - a long rite of passage for a man who turned
86 in April this year.
of wit and endowed with a phenomenal capacity for recall, Tita's
early and enduring passion was cricket. Along the way Tita tried
his hand at bowling in the nets. He took three paces and hurled
the ball down. The ball raced, reared and terrorized the hapless
batsman. It was phenomenal.
secret weapon was dangerous and effective. He entered first class
cricket in 1938, turning out for Notts Cricket and Athletic Club
at Victoria Park under the captaincy of that elegant, brilliant
Thomian left-hander, Robert Samarasekera. Tita's apprenticeship
at Notts also benefited from the captaincy of E.A.G de Silva, the
father of Romesh, the eminent Queen's Counsel, and A.A. Virasinghe,
the distinguished hockey player.
1940, with World War II raging across Europe, Tita moved camp, joining
the Colombo Colts Cricket Club. It is an association that endures
to this day where he was captain, an honorary life member and patron,
having served as President in 1973, the club's centenary year at
which William Gopallawa, the Governor General was Chief Guest.
have you got to say about cricket in the war years survived with
matches organized on an ad hoc basis. Tita got to play with and
against the likes of George Hubert, F.C de Saram, C.I. Gunasekera,
B.R Heyn, R.L. de Krestser, M. Sathasivam, Pat McCarthy, Vernon
Prins, Sargo Jayewickrema, Mahes Rodrigo and Stanley Jayasinghe.
1946-47 the game revived in all its glory. The P. Saravanamuthu
Trophy was the premier tournament. It was the time Tita Nathanieslz
arrived - three paces, slingshot and all. He took the tournament
by storm, his secret weapon causing mayhem among the batsmen. Paired
at various times with M. Samsudeen, Norman de la Harpe and Lolo
da Silva, Tita and his fellow combatants at the Colts.
1948 following selection trials for the Ceylon national side, Tita
was given the nod to play against Pakistan in 1950, the Commonwealth
XI captained by the late Sir Frank Worrell and in 1951 against the
capped his involvement in cricket as a national test selector and
a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Control for
Tita's zest for life remained irrepressible after he hung up his
cricket boots. He played golf with flair. He also served in several
honorary capacities at the Royal Colombo Golf Club and became the
Royal Colombo's President in 2004-2005, presiding over the Club's
125th anniversary celebrations. Not unexpectedly, he also founded
the Hole -in-One Golfing Society as much in celebration of his own
prowess as the many golfers who have achieved this distinction.
Nathanielsz is also acknowledged as the great chronicler of the
game of golf in Sri Lanka, producing a handsome book on the history
of the Royal Colombo to mark the club's 125th anniversary, a tour
de force in sports publishing.
regular and extremely popular golf columns in national newspapers
under the nom de plume ‘After All’ has over three decades
generated and sustained interest in the game among followers of
jazz and one name instantly lights up. Tita Nathanielsz was a founder
of the Jazz Club and remains President of Jazz Unlimited, whose
concerts on the first Sunday of every month at the CRFC are a lively,
popular, fun happening in Colombo's entertainment scene.
that there is a wise head on those still strong shoulders, Tita
Nathanielsz also counts among his many pursuits involvement as a
founder member and President of the Apex Clubs of Australia; a former
President of the Sri Lanka America Society and now Joint Chairman
of the Society's highly respected Forum; former President and now
an honorary life member of the Ceylon-Australia-New Zealand Association;
founder member of the Colombo Toastmasters Club; and a former President
of the Colombo Lions Host Club, and still a very active member and
a founder member of the Sri Lanka-Australia-New Zealand Business
not all folks, read this. Tita was around as a founder member of
The Ceylon Amateur Dancing Association and a founder member of the
Ceylon Motor Cycle Club and as its honorary secretary organised
the inaugural Monsoon Reliability Trials. At 86 Tita Nathanielsz
is not retired, just very laid back. He is looking forward to celebrating
50 years of marriage to his wife Jeanne in June next year. Till
that big bash comes along he remains the great raconteur, the life
and soul of social gatherings, a great friend, the custodian of
many, many friendships and a dreamer. "If you don't dream,
how can your dreams come true", he asks as he raises a glass
to propose an eloquent, witty toast.