Oliver Ranasinghe 9th Commander of Sri Lanka Air Force. Text & Pic. by Upananda Jayasundera-Kandy Sports Spl.Corrs.)
Air Chief Marshal Oliver Ranasinghe, the ninth Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force,was an outstanding Cricketer, Athlete and also a hard working person . An Old Boy of Dharmapala Vidyalaya, Pannipitiya he captained the School Cricket team for two years from 1965 to 1966.
As an Athlete he represented the School at the Public Schools Meet during his school days. As a Schoolboy he represented Panadura Sports Club in a few Cricket Matches and he was coached by D.H.de Silva, who was the Charity Commissioner of the Municipality,Colombo. Playing for Dharmapala as a right arm opening Bowler he captured 66 wickets in 12 Inter School matches in the Year 1965.
In 1966 in the School Cricket season he captured the same number of wickets 66 and he was listed in the All Island Schools averages as an all rounder Scoring more than 450 runs and capturing 66 wickets in the year 1966. He also played Football for the School XI and excelled in Athletics winning 100 metres. and 200 metres. and he received the Best performance Trophy and under 19 Champion Athlete Trophy which was remarkable. Being a distinguished Student, he was a College Senior Prefect, School Captain and Athletic Captain of the School. Before joining the SL Air Force, he was working as a Trainee Executive at Hayleys for six months and played Rugby at the Mercantile ‘A’ Division Seven-a-side Rugby tourney even though he had not played Rugby before. Sri Lanka Rugby players like Ex.Minister C.V.Gunaratne,Mohan Sahayam and Jeyer Rodriguesz were some of his Team mates. After leaving School he took a major part in renovating his school, Dharmapala Vidyalaya upto International Standard. In the Air Force, he played Cricket for the Adastrians for many years and led his team against Indian Military team in an Invitation Cricket Tournament for the one and only overseas tournament conducted by SLAF. During his tenure of office at SLAF, Saracens Grounds was handed back to SLAF and he introduced Turf Wickets and renovated the Grounds and built a good Pavilion. His sports career helped him to climb up the ladder of success in life ending up as the Air Force Commander