Trinity-Antonian ‘Big Match’ 50 years ago

March 1959 saw a welcome return to ‘Big Match’ cricket action at Asgiriya after a lapse of four years, as evidenced by the large crowd present at the Trinity- Antonian, 50 years ago.

A disagreement between the relevant authorities of Kandy’s two leading schools, regarding the age rule had resulted in the cancellation of the prestigious ‘Big Match’ in 1956 and 1957.

This unfortunate contretemps deprived the cricket loving public of witnessing a much looked forward to sporting event, which had thrilled and entertained Kandy, every year, since 1916.

The 1959 Trinity team had a strong combination which included four cricket ‘Lions’, in skipper Nimal Maralande, Malsiri Kurukulasuriya, Seneca de Chickera and Jayantissa Ratwatte.

Maralande was overage for the match and missed out on bidding adieu on his home turf.

Kurukulasuriya took over the reins of captain, with experienced senior players, de Chickera, J. Ratwatte, Errol Fernando and Eric Roles, in support.

Antonian skipper Charlie Joseph was the batting star of the team and held the batting together throughout the season. Michael Raj, Franklin Burke, Fritz Rudolph together with Frank Mullholand, Heen Banda, Sarath Pamunuwa and V. A. Ching were some of the other leading members of the team.

Joseph won the all important toss to give his side the distinct advantage of batting first on a wicket full of runs. The first hours play saw only 25 runs being scored. Trinity set an attacking field and the frontline Antonian batsmen were troubled by the lively new ball bowling of pacemen de Chickera and Roles.

SACK had slumped to 65 for 5 and then Joseph (33) was dropped in the slips off de Chickera. Had this chance being taken the match may well have taken a different turn.

Taking advantage of these reprieves, Joseph went on to make 95 and added 53 valuable runs with Rudolph (39), 54 with Burke (16) and 62 for the ninth wicket with Pamunuwa (16) to enable SACK to total 242.

Russell van Rooyen (4 for 60) and de Chickera (3 for 53) were TCK’s main wicket takers.

Joseph’s superb innings was indeed the feature of this match.

Trinity in reply, lost chief run getter Kurukulasuriya (13) J. Ratwatte (18) early in the innings and slid to 60 for 3. De Chickera coming in at this stage, scored a quick fire 35 and added 50 runs with Errol Fernando whose invaluable 86 held the innings together. Roles contributed 30 useful runs and from 194 for 6, TCK’s innings folded to 221.

H. Banda bowled well to take 4 for 38. Though this TCK-SACK encounter 50 years ago ended without a definitive result, it provided a continuing link in a series that dates back to 1916.

However, the spirit of camaraderie in which this match was played helped to strengthen the close bonds existing between these two schools.

Wickrema Wijesena

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