Lucian Wijesinghe is a name synonymous with cricket commentary. Beginning his career at the SLBC, Wijesinghe has had an illustrious career in sports broadcasting, lending his voice to the BBC, SLBC and a host of other high-profile radio stations.
The story of how the veteran got into the business of commentaries is a unique one as, as he puts it,
“I always thought I’d do a good job as a cricket commentator. I knew the game inside out, I had a good vocabulary, so all you’re doing is describing what you see and what’s difficult about that – that’s what I thought. So, one day, I just stopped my car, walked into the Ceylon Broadcasting Corporation and said excuse me, I’d like to be a cricket commentator.”
Wijesinghe was subsequently asked to have a test run, commentating on an imaginary match going on in his head. Mr. Livy Wijemanne, on hearing it reportedly said, “I did not realize that we had this sort of talent in this country” and immediately instructed Mr. Prosper Fernando to schedule Lucian for the 1971 Royal-Thomian Cricket encounter – which is where he had his break into cricket commentaries.
His love for the game was fostered by the days spent by the side of the radio, listening avidly to the radio commentaries of games between England and Australia during his youth and grew further as he started playing cricket for his alma mater Trinity College, Kandy at the Under 12 level.
With his family moving to Colombo, Wijesinghe was forced to switch schools and completed his secondary education at Royal College, Colombo. Although a gifted player, he missed out on playing the ‘Big Match’ for the Royalists, being entrusted duties as the 12th man.
Wijesinghe also had the honour of commentating at the 1983 World Cup, a 1st World Cup for him, where he was there to witness Sri Lanka’s first World Cup win against New Zealand, no mean feat at the time.
Despite it not being his turn with the mic, he was given the opportunity to give commentaries during the final stages of the game and to this day, there is a recording of him saying “Well played Sri Lanka”, in the summary recordings of the 1983 tournament.
Like many a Sri Lankan cricket fan, one of Lucian’s most memorable cricket memories are from that magnificent 1996 World Cup, where underdogs Sri Lanka were crowned Champions at the Gadaffi Stadium in Lahore.
In his own words, Wijesinghe says, “when I walked out of the Gadaffi Stadium, I was 10 feet tall” – a feeling we can all no doubt relate to.
As a man with extensive experience, Wijesinghe is no doubt someone aspiring commentators and sports broadcasters can look up to as one of our very own.