‘Battle of Lovers’ in Matara for first time
Richmond, Mahinda clash in Centenary year

by Dhammika Ratnaweera

Two leading schools in Galle - Richmond and Mahinda - will meet in their annual cricket encounter, which also happens to be their centenary year. Dubbed the " Battle of the Lovers " , the match will be played at the Uyanwatte Stadium, Matara today and tomorrow (May 6-7).

This will be the first time that two Galle schools meet at Matara. Normally this Big Match is played at the Galle International Stadium in March, but due to the tsunami disaster of December 26, 2004, the venue was badly affected. Hence the two schools decided to play the Centenary Big Match at Matara However, it will be a low key affair.

Going back in history, this Big Match was begun in 1905 under Principals J.H .Darrel of Richmond and Frankly Woodward of Mahinda .

The objective of the Big Match is to develop the friendly ties between the two schools. Both schools have produced several outstanding cricketers. To mention a few: the late D.L.S. de Silva, Athula Samarasekara, Upul Sumathipala, Gajaba Pitigala, Jayananada Warnaweera, Dileepa Wickramasinghe and present national all- rounder Upul Chandana. The latest addition to the national side slingshot paceman Lasith Malinga.

Marvan Atapattu began his cricket career at Mahinda and later crossed over to Ananda College.

Champaka Ramanayake, the present national fast bowling coach, was one time Sri Lanka’s opening bowler. Chamila Gamage, Dhammika Sudharshana and Anil Redeegammanagedera figured recently in Sri Lanka ‘A’ level sides. They are all products of Richmond .

This season Richmond College will led by fifth year player Chamila Wijerupa. He is a good all-rounder of the side. Deputy Skipper Chatupama Gunasinghe is their key paceman, who has taken over 40 wickets this season. Richmond is coached by Asoka Kumara for the first time and under his guidance the team has played positive cricket this year.

They beat Devananada College, Ambalangoda and in their last match against St Aloysius’ College, Galle, which was played at the same Matara Uyanwatta Stadium, they had a 9-wicket win. They lost only to Nalanda College and rest of the matches ended in draws.

Mahinda College is coached by former Mahinda skipper Harsha Munasinghe, while fifth year spinner Charith Keerthisinghe will lead the side. Fifth year player Thilina Rajakaruna will be the deputy skipper of the side. They beat Dharmapala Vidyalaya, Pannipitiya and lost to Trinity College, Kandy and Rahula College, Matara. The rest of the matches were drawn .

In the Big Match series, Mahinda College recorded 22 wins, while Richmond has 21. Mahinda last won in 1978 under Dulip de Silva. Since then both schools have not recorded a win. Big Matches were not held in 1910, 1911, 1912 and 1942 due to unavoidable circumstances .


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