Thurstan-Isipatana 45th Big Match
It’s no Gulliver Vs Lilliput at SSC grounds
Pix by Nishan S. Priyantha
College Seated from left: Achala Ramanayake, Dinesh Weerasinghe
(Coach), G.R.M. Bandara (Asst. Principal), Umesh Karunaratne
(Captain), P.S.A.D. Janaka Kumara (Principal), Charith Gayan
Perera (Vice Captain), D.N. Gurudeniya (Master in Charge) and
Buddhi Samarawickrama. Standing from left: Thisura Madurapperuma,
Sumudu Wickramarachchi, Indika Massalage, Shalaka Rangajeewa,
Charith Dharshana, Shehan Kamaleen, Ishan Perera, Geeth Kumara,
Chamalka Gamage, Ranishka Gamage, Ravindu Wijeratne and Pubudu
Senevirathne Umesh Karunaratne (Captain) Charith Gayan Perera
(Vice Captain) Buddhi Samarawickrama, Achala Ramanayake, Shalaka
Rangajeewa. and Geeth Kumara.
Just a year after we mentioned about a vast gulf that existed
between Isipatana and Thurstan on these pages, it’s quite a
different story that we have to pen about the two outfits as
they meet in their 45th Annual ‘Big Match’ played for the
Blackham Wijewardena Trophy, commencing today at the SSC
College Seated from left: K.H. Nandasena (Coach), Chirantha de
Silva (Captain), L.L. Sisira Kumara (Master in Charge), K.A.D.
Punyadasa (Principal), S.A.G. Sarath Chandra (P.O.G), Lilan
Fernando (Vice Captain) and Vimukthi Deshapriya. First row
standing from left: Sakuntha Premarathne, Amira Rabel, Harith
Wanigaarachchi, Amila de Silva, Dantha de Silva, Shiral
Senarathne and Sathya Premarathne. Second row standing from
left: Thiwanka Ranasinghe, Pranama Sri Vimukthi, Ifran Ismail,
Dimuth Warapitiya, Chamara Waduge and Danuka Fernando.Chirantha
de Silva (Captain) Lilan Fernando (Vice Captain) Vimukthi
Deshapriya, Amira Rabel, Ifran Ismail and Danuka Fernando.
Wanting to win back the coveted titles, Thurstan is no big
Gulliver waiting to gobble up a Lilliput when they lock horns
with Isipatana as the latter has grown in stature during the
past year, although the success rate of the two outfits this
season could be attributed to those mythical figures.
Thurstan, skippered by Umesh Karunaratne, who is taking a
hastily arranged flight back home from Malaysia at the time of
writing, after Sri Lanka lost their last match to England in the
Youth World Cup, has recorded six outright victories this season
to be the favourites for today’s encounter. Except for a few
hiccups in the first innings, against Kingswood, Maris Stella
and Nalanda, Thurstan have had no major worries this season.
That makes them one of the toughest Thurstan teams to meet
Isipatana in a ‘Big Match’ in recent history.
Isipatana, who were longing for a proper ground a year ago
are now equipped with a facility and the strength of the outfit,
skippered by Chirantha de Silva is a far cry from the trembling
outfit they were a year ago although a solitary victory and two
defeats in 14 outings this season suggest otherwise. The victory
against Lumbini and some gutsy performances against formidable
Royal College and S. Thomas’ College in the first innings are
hints of their character, this season.
Thurstan, who lead the victory tally by one (5-4), are ahead
of their counterparts as far as the run tallies and wickets
tallies of individual players and the number of victories they
have recorded this season are concerned.
Umesh Karunaratne will be the key bowler for Thursatan as he
controls the spin department with a season haul of nearly 60
wickets. While he will use his World Cup experience as well, he
has a number of spinners in the bowling department who have
shown promise in the season.
Off spinner Buddhi Samarawickrama and the leg spin trio of
Geeth Kumara, Ravindu Wijeratne and Chamalka Gamage who have
shared nearly 100 wickets this season, will strengthen their
spin department while Shalaka Rangajeewa will be the pace
In the batting department, left handed top order bat Geeth
Kumara (850 runs), will look forward to reach the magical 1000
run mark in the annual encounter while five others will look to
brace the batting line up and continuing to pile on their heaps
Karunaratne’s deputy, Charith Gayan, and last year’s skipper
Buddhi Samarawickrama, and hard hitting opener Indika Massalage
have scored over 500 runs each this season and they will be the
key batters for Thurstan.
Isipatana will rely heavily on middle order bat Amira Rabel
and ‘Big Match’ debutant Ifran Ismail who are the only players
to have scored over 400 runs this season. Captain Chirantha de
Silva, Thiwanka Ranasinghe and opening bat Shiran Senaratne are
the other batsmen who have done well this season but their main
strength is bowling.
Deputy skipper Lilan Fernando, their leading wicket taker and
Shiral Senaratne are the pace spearheads while leg spinner
Vimukthi Deshapriya and the off spin duo of Chamara Waduge and
Thivanka Ranasinghe control the spin department.
Apart from the performance in the School Season, Thurstan
have got other reasons to be favourites in the two day battle.
Half a dozen Thurstan players who featured in the Sara Trophy
final for Seeduwa Raddoluwa along with their coach Dinesh
Weerasinghe earned the club a Premier League position last
weekend is the ideal moral boost ahead of the crucial encounter.
However, there will be other concerns for the two sides,
their officials and organizers as they set rolling the ‘Big
Match’ season in the aftermath of the suicide bomb attack at the
Fort Railway Station compelled the Education Ministry to impose
a temporary ban on school matches.
The two heads of the colleges pledged to set an example by
holding an incident free ‘Big Match’ under tight security and
the ‘Big Match’ goers will be keen to see that the promise is
kept. If an incident free ‘Big Match’ could come with a result
which hasn’t been the case for nine years, then that will be the
best example that could be set to open the ‘Big Match’ season.
Isipatana from: Chirantha de Silva (Captain), Lilan
Fernando (Vice Captain), Shiral Senarathne, Ifran Ismail,
Thiwanka Ranasinghe, Sakuntha Premarathne, Amila de Silva,
Vimukthi Deshapriya, Chamara Waduge, Amira Rabel, Dimuth
Warapitiya and Dantha de Silva,
Thurstan from: Umesh Karunaratne (Captain), Charith Gayan
Perera (Vice Captain), Buddhi Samarawickrama, Geeth Kumara,
Achala Ramanayake, Shehan Kamaleen, Indika Massalage, Shalaka
Rangajeewa, Ravindu Wijeratne, Chamalka Gamage, Ranishka Gamage,
Ishan Perera and Sumudu Wickramarachchi.
Amira Rabel might miss match
While Thurstan will have the luxury of having Umesh
Karunaratne, their captain on time to lead the side, Isipatana
are likely not to have their key batter, Amira Rabel for today’s
encounter as the in-form player was affected by high fever on
the eve of the big match. "Rabel is doubtful for the match as he
has got a high fever," a source close to the team said.
Ashantha de Mel – Chief Guest
The Chief Guest at the ‘Big Match ‘will be Ashantha de Mel,
the Chairman of Selectors. De Mel, a distinguished old boy of
Isipatana College, represented the First XI cricket team in the
mid 70s. He had the distinction of representing the Sri Lanka
team in the country’s first ever Test victory against India.
Jagath Alwis, Deputy Chairman, Ceylinco Education Group, another
distinguished old boy of Isipatana College, will be the Guest of