Kandy’s 89th

"Battle of the Blues"

Text and pictures by Hafiz Marikar

Trinity College Kandy First XI cricket squad, 2005

St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota First XI cricket squad, 2005

Trinity College, led by Maduranga Munaweera have reversed the tide ad will march in as the fancied team to the Asgiriya Stadium to play their arch rivals at cricket, St. Anthony’s College, led by Pramodth Fernando, in their 89th "Battle of the Blues" today and tomorrow. If the weather permits, the match will commence at 9.30 a.m. on both days

Kandy will go gay today, when these two enterprising schools play their match of the season. This time the Trinitians have done well with seven wins, two losses and eight draws in 17 games and will take the field as favourites. The Antonian’s by Pramodth Fernando, a cricketer with lot of sense and leadership, is all out to give the Trinitians a torrid time.

Out of the 88 matches played in the series, the Trinitians lead with 22 wins, with their last win coming under Thushara Weerasooriya in 1986. That was after 35 years. The Antonians have won 11 games; the last was under Umesh de Alwis in 1992.

The Trinity versus Antonian cricket encounter is one of the most looked forward to cricketing events in the hills, which got off to a start in 1914. This Big Match was not played thrice in 1916, 1956 and 1957.

Their first Big Match was played in 1914 at the Bogambara Grounds, in which the Antonians, led by C. Senevirathne emerged winners beating C. E. de Silva’s Trinity XI by 42 runs. the hero of that victory was C. H. Wittachy and the in the following year under R. Ondaatjie, Antonians won the second encounter. The third encounter too was won by the Antonians. From 1918 to 1928, Trinity won.

Trinity College is one of the oldest cricket playing schools in the country. They stated cricket in 1893. Before the second World War, Trinity not only produced several top class cricketers, but also produced several invincible teams. Some of the products who have done well for the country after Test status are Kumar Sangakkara (today rated as a top class batsman) and Ravi Ratnayake who was one time vice captain of the Sri Lanka team.

In the early days they had players like C. E. Simtharachchi, Richard Aluwihare, Harry Inman, Philip Bultejens, O. I. Izzadeen, Rex Breckendrige, C. Dharmalingam, T. B Werapiriya, T. B. Marambe, Percy Madugalle, M. P. Karara, R. Halangoda, R. B. Ettipola, H. Delwitta, Frank Sirimane, Senarath Pilapitiya, Nimal Maralande, Malsiri Kurukulasuriya, Harindra Dunuwille, Hemendra Ranaweera, M. T M. Zaruk, Ajith Abeyrathne, Roger Abeyrathne, and Uvais Odayar.

The Antonian’s too havebeen in the game for a long period. Their cricket is over 150 years. St. Antony’ have produced several champion teams and also outstanding players. One of the greatest is the one time world record holder Muttiah Muralitharan, famous batsmen Jack Anderson, A. C. M. Lafir, and Wijepala Premaratne (who had the honour of being adjudged the first schoolboy cricketer of the year 1956), Chalice Joseph, Harry Jayasundara, L. V. Jayaweera, Dickie Dunuwillle, Ronie Stevens, Ranjith and Saliya Doranagama, Ranjith Samarasekara, Ruwan Kalpage and Piyal Wijetunaga.

In this 89th encounter, who is going to beat whom? Though the Trinitians are favourites the Antonians have the fire power to shoot down the Lions. Will it be a interesting game of cricket, or a dull affair? Everything depends on the wicket. Performance-wise the two teams are on an even keel. If they want a result it should be a quick innings and a quick declaration.

Trinity, led by all rounder Maduranga Munaweera has a well balanced and talented side. Under him they have played 17 matches, won 7, lost two and have drawn the rest. Maduranaga Munaweera as a leader has done well, with both bat and ball. He has scored over 900 runs, with a fine century and has claimed 66 wickets.

He should be thankful to his team mates, specially to players like Sasith Jayasinghe, the vice captain Clifford Fernando (last year’s captain), Sachith Pathirane and Charith Dumbarage.

Sisitha Jayasinghe, a fourth year player, as a opening batsmen has given a good start and helped the school to pile up the runs. He is also an excellent right arm off spinner.

Sachith Pathirane is the most dangerous player with both bat and ball; he became the first Trinitian to take 100 wickets with his left arm off spin. Sachith has done well with the bat too, scoring a double century against Sri Rahula. He has an aggregate of 780 runs.

Off spinner Charith Dumbarage too has a large haul of wickets. Charith is a knowledgeable player with a lot of cricket in him. His bowling is a key attraction and he is also an excellent middle order hard-hitting batsman.

Much can be expected from Clifford Fernando, the most experienced player in the side. He has led the team in two big matches, and has contributed a lot to the side.

The others who should do well are - Arinda Blunuwewa, an off spinner, Dilan Gangoda, the stumper, and Mohameed Sasheer who is a fine medium pacer. He comes as the first change for Maduranga Munaweera and Clifford Fernando.

Opener Santhush Ratnayake should provide a firm start today. Then there is Sampath Ratnayake, another good bat.

St. Anthony’s are blessed with a good talented side but have failed to do well this season. The Antonians are led by a fine all rounder Pramodth Fernando, who has contributed a lot with both with bat and ball. He has scored nearly 400 runs and taken over 30 wickets. Pramodth has a good vice captain in Sameera Weerabahu, a fine pace bowler.

The man behind the Antonians good work is none other than Shameer Munas, the leading bat and bowler. Shameer has made nearly 400 runs and has helped the Antonians both with the bat and the ball. Selwyan Jamion, a fine player, has helped the Antonians in many ways, specially with his bowling. He opens the bowling attack with Sameera Weerabahu. First change bowler, Peter Samarakoon too has given of his best with the ball.

Harsha Medagoda is a fine bat and a off spinner. The other are Shan Pallihakkara, Adil Reyal, Sahameer Munas, Shaheer Reyal and stumper Gimhana Dissanayake.

Records - The first century of the series was by Antonian Jack Anderson in 1918 at Asgiriya, which was the first at this grounds. Trinity’s first century came in 1922 from M. D. D. Jayawardene. A. C M. Laffir’s 176 in 1954 stands as the highest individual score of the series. Trinity’s T. B. Werapitiya’s 143 in 1944 was the earlier record.

1954’s opening stand of 266 by A. C. M. Laffir (176), Ronald Stevens (120) still stands as the best opening dtand. Trinity’s Lalith Ramanayake holds the record for the fastest century (72 minutes) in 1970 at the newly laid Antonian turf wicket and in the same game, 16-year-old Merril Dinuwille made the first century at Katugastota.

The lowest total in the series is Trinity’s 37 in 1951, and St. Anthony’s, 44 in 1938.


Trinity College (from) — Maduranga Munaweera (Capt.), Sisitha Jayasinghe (Vice Capt.), Clifford Fernando, Sachith Pathirana, Charith Dumbarage, Santhush Ratnayake, Sampath Ratnayake, Mohamed Sasheer, Dilan Gangoda, Dimithra Bulunuwewa, Ravindra Adikari, Eroy Basnayake, Dinesh Seneviratne, Lasitha Wijetunga.

St. Anthony’s College (from) — Parmodth Fernando (Capt.), Sameera Weerabahu (Vice Capt.), Shameer Munas, Marshana Medagoda, Selvyn Jamion, Peter Samarakoon, Gihmahana Dissanayake, Malindu Perera, Sasheer Reyal, Adil Reyal, Dinusha Wijewardena, Sahan Palihakkara, Jerome Siegertz, Prasanna Illangakoon, Eranda Hewapathirana.


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