Story: Marie Pietersz (The Write Touch), Melbourne
Photos: Errol Fernando
The cricket season is over, a pandemic has set in, the lifting of lockdown restrictions seem so far away, but Errol is nostalgic and hopeful that he will once again be able to walk the crease, wield his bat, bowl his overs, and better his personal best in the summer of 2020.
At 69, Errol Fernando is proving that age is just a number, with a record five decades of playing cricket both in Sri Lanka and Australia under his belt. He has played on while some of his peers and contemporaries have thrown in the bat a long time ago. And he believes there is a lot of runs left in him yet.
When it comes to cricket, Errol has to be admired for the formidable stamina and passion he displays when it comes to the game he loves and it is the reason he puts in the hard yards to be at the top of his performance each year.
Errol commenced his cricketing career at the young age of 10, playing for his school, Carey College, Colombo. He grew up with a school cricket legend, Bandulla Warnapura, who played an important role in inspiring Errol’s cricketing journey.
At just 14, Errol was selected to play for the prestigious Bloomfield Cricket Club in Sri Lanka, an admirable achievement in a competitive field of up-and-coming talented cricketers in Colombo at the time.
Arriving in Australia, Errol played for various clubs from 1970 to 1980 in the Victorian Sunday Cricket Association (VSCA) Competition. Selectors recognised his potential as an all-rounder and he was invited to play for the Dandenong Sub-District Club in the early 1980s. Among his credentials he can claim to have played in winning teams that defeated opponents with big names in their line-up, such as Australian Dav Whatmore and Sri Lankans Roshan Mahanama and Ravi Ratnayake.
In 2016 he was awarded the title of club champion in all grades of the competition. He won the same title again in 2020 with the season’s average batting score of 500 runs and bowling score of 20 wickets, taking 5 wickets for 20 runs in one game. Performances such as this drew spectators to games to see Errol play out the highlights that they came to expect from him.
In the 2020 cricket season, he was favourite to take out the award for the best one-day cricketer playing for Glen Waverley Cricket Club in the Bingley Shield against Notting Hill-Brandon Park Cricket Club.
Errol has been an indispensable part of shaping the spirit and popularity of the game both in Sri Lanka and in district clubs around Melbourne and has inspired and mentored younger generations of players by his own performances.
He is a popular and well-known personality in cricketing circles in Melbourne and is affectionately known as the ‘prince’ of cricket by his peers, protégés and inspiring young cricketers who believe he is well deserving of that title.
Errol’s impressive collection of cricketing trophies occupy pride of place in his home; a long array of glistening gold that line the mantlepiece in his living room. ‘Those are the memories of cricketing moments I will treasure,’ he says, ‘and maybe I will have to find more space to fit in the ones that will join them in the future.’
There is definitely still fire in the belly of this unstoppable cricketer and he is the one to beat if you are vying for that cricketing trophy for the club and competition Errol plays in.
Errol waits anxiously to find out what this year’s cricket season is going to bring post-coronovirus lockdown, but he is ready for any situation that will mean he will not have to put down his bat in 2020, when once again he hopes to challenge his physical and mental prowess and inspire a younger generation of cricketers in the process.
A triumphant Errol returns to the clubhouse after scoring 66 in a 30-over game: December 2019, Glen Waverley CC v. Edinburgh CC
Errol’s best bowling performance of 5 wickets for 12 runs: January 2020, Glen Waverley CC v. Clifton Hill CC
The trophies say it all – how hard he fought and how well he played the game.