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End of another battle



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by Reemus Fernando


The ‘Battle of Two Cities’ is almost likely to be stalled and added up to the forgotten list of ill-fated Big Match series understandably after the two schools, namely Rahula College, Matara and St. Aloysius’ College, Galle failed to iron out the differences which were triggered by a mere spectator misbehavior during the last year’s Big Match. What it took a few diehard cricket enthusiasts more than half a decade to build is about to crumble. And with it the good times, memories and the culture which those enthusiast believed would augur well for their cricket.


Whether it is between these two schools or anywhere else in the country, the Old Boys fraternities shoulder a good chunk of the responsibility of taking forward Big Matches or cricket of their respective schools. It is the expertise, monies and the hard work put in by these associations that keep cricket running. When these associations are dominated by past cricketers of the school there is an obvious boom in cricket. It is just the opposite on some occasions when those who only love to share the glamour of being a part of cricket come to the administration of these associations. To whichever category the present administrators of cricket of the above schools belong to they have decided to put a stop to the series which was set in motion with the good intention of nurturing strong bonds between these two schools. And it was a series set in motion with an unbeaten half century by a young cricketer called Suraj Randiv who has inspired dozens of young cricketers of Rahula.


Had any junior cricketer at Rahula College, been inspired by the presence of Randiv in the Sri Lanka team, decided to take the Battle of the Two Cities seriously he can now have other ideas. Although the ‘Battle of Two Cities’ had been a little known Big Match compared to the century old Big Matches of the Southern Province, namely, Richmond-Mahinda and St. Servatius’-St. Thomas’ those who nurtured the cricketers of these two schools had made sure that they maintain a high standard when they host the Big Match. And the two schools have seen their standard of cricket too rises to new highs during the past decade.


The culmination of the Big Match series is likely to affect their cricket too with the enthusiasts who worked hard to nurture cricket at these two institutions harbouring thoughts of breaking ranks. How small entities they could be, the rifts in cricket administration at schools have a huge bearing on the stand of cricket as it is the hard work of a few individuals that keep cricket running at most of the schools. The examples are a plenty. The recent problems at St. Joseph’s College, Darley Road the school of Chaminda Vaas, Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera were well reflected in the performances of the team. Joes, who had been an unbeaten team at the end of the league tournament a month ago, had been reduced to a ‘punching bag’ as of late. Last week they suffered their third consecutive defeat following the rift in their cricket administration. It took just the resignation of the Cricket Advisory Committee and the coach for Joes to crumble.


With regard to the Battle of Two Cities, understandably, there had been hardly any soul searching following last year’s incident. And Rahula College is likely to commence a new Big Match series with Dharmapala College, Pannipitiya. Rahula and Dharmapala are two schools pioneered by Srimath Anagarika Dharmapala. According to sources the rift between Rahula and St. Aloysius’ had not been on the line of faith. Then why were they in such a hurry to commence a new series with one of their brother schools even before the dust settled on last year’s issue.


The two schools are not the only rivals to have ended their Big Matches in recent times. Maliyadeva College and St. Anne’s College ended their series a couple of years ago following a similar incident at Kurunegala. While Maliyadeva have managed to sustain the standard of their cricket, the standard of cricket at St. Anne’s College is not something the Old Boys of that school would take pride in discussing at the moment. They were a strong Division I team a couple of years ago. At present they have been made to fight to avoid being relegated to Division III, the lowest Division of the Under-19 tournament.


Heard of the Battle of the Lagoons? It was yet another ‘Battle of Two Cities’. The Big Match between Holy Cross College, Kalutara and Maris Stella College, Negombo ended in mid 90s. While Maris Stella managed to counter the after effects, Holy Cross doesnseem to have done so. Currently they are in the danger of being relegated. There are dozens of schools who do not play Big Matches but play quality cricket. But for those schools, who have their Big Match as the pinnacle encounter of the season, the ending of it matter a lot.


With the Southern Express way brining Pannipitiya and Matara closer by hours, the two schools Rahula and Dharmapala might find the distance between the two provinces a matter of minutes to build a stronger bond. The commencement of a new Big match series will also give an opportunity to those pioneering it to have their names registered in the history of the Big Match. But, does finding a new good partner give license to break away from a friend with whom you have built a cultural bond?


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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