Royal People

A dedication to those wonderful people who served Royal Primary School & Royal College, in Sri Lanka, since 1835, and, who will be remembered for their committment, sincerety and unselfishness.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

This was Cricket!

When Channa Gunasekera recalled Chellaraj to the crease
Sunday Observer Mar 4 2007

CRICKET: The Royal-Thomian cricket match is usually a fiercely fought-out encounter with no quarter asked and none given. Both teams go into this encounter as if their whole life depends on the outcome of this match which has now gone in stature from the usually two-day game in the fifties to the three-day game now.

The 128th annual encounter will be played on March 8, 9 and 10 at the SSC grounds. However, though much prominence is attached to this game, sportsmanship of the highest order prevailed in this encounter long before any of the present day lot of cricketers were born.

The year was 1949 and the venue for the match was the then Colombo Oval, now re-named P. Saravavanamuttu Stadium.

Royal who won the toss on that Friday - March 18 to be exact, made rapid progress with their batsmen striking it rich and collecting runs in an easy manner against a not too hot S. Thomas' attack. Scoring over a run - a - minute, the Royalists mustered 242. As this was a two-day game, Royal's score was considered good. Gamini Goonesena top-scored with 58, T. Vairavanathan made 39, V. K. Gunasekera 28, S. D. N. Hapugalle 42, Capt. C. H. Gunasekera 24.
S. Thomas' had quite a formidable task on their shoulders when they went in to start their innings at 4.40 p.m. The Thomian wickets started to fall in rapid succession - the first went for 11 runs, the second at 41 and the third at 45. Skipper P. T. Shanti Kumar made 55, G. V. Tissera 30, C. Wignarajah 5 for 35 and Gamini Goonesene 3 for 64.

Thomian C. Chellaraj came to the wicket, but things didn't change dramatically for the Thomians as runs came slowly against a tight Royal attack. At 56, Thomian Chellaraj was run out - a correct decision given by the umpire and Chellaraj was walking towards the pavilion. However, Royal skipper C. H. Gunasekera thought otherwise and called him back, as Gunasekera felt that Chellaraj inadvertently bumped into a Royal fielder standing close to the wicket. P. T. Shanti Kumar made 55 and Chellaraj 4 and the pair added 81 for the fourth wicket in the first innings.
This was probably a historic occasion, the first of its kind at this level of cricket, but Gunasekera had no hesitation in his decision and though some of the Royal supporters stood aghast at the Royal skipper's decision, there was no change of mind. The gesture nearly cost Royal the match, but it was a fine show of sportsmanship.

After the early Thomian debacle in the first innings, the fourth wicket in the first innings fell on Saturday at 126 and the innings finally ended at 225.

'Games the Thing'

The Ceylon Observer of March 20th had an editorial on the incident, titled "The Game's the Thing". It went on to say" "The Royalist captain's gesture last Friday in calling a Thomian batsman back to the wicket after he had been run out on the umpire's ruling, was true to the best traditions of cricket. The captain had good reason to believe that the batsman had unfortunately been obstructed. The incident must have warmed the hearts of all sportsmen at the Oval that day and particularly the old boys of the two schools engaged in "Playing the game, and the game's the thing."

It mattered little if the batsman would have made good use of the second chance and piled on a score that would have blasted the hopes of a Royal victory.

It was not the runs gained or chances lost that counted - the spirit of sportsmanship and the honour of the school were the decisive factors.

Viewed on this platform, the Royalist captain's gesture was more eye-catching than a flawless century or some brilliant catches.

The late S. P. Foenander, writing under his pen-name "Onlooker" on the same incident said: "The incident at the Oval stressed the importance of cricket and all sports as a potent factor in the moral training of boys and men. There will be general agreement with this view."

After the Thomians made 225, thereby giving Royal a lead of 17 runs on the first innings. The Royalists made 101 in the second innings which left the Thomians to make 119 runs for victory in around 65 minutes. Schaffer took 6 for 27 in the second innings while Chellaraj tool 3 wickets in the first innings and second innings.

There was drama in the closing stages of the match. Gamini Goonasena who afterwards went on to play was Cambridge University, was the bowler called on by Royal to send down the last over.
S. Thomas' were 113 for 4 with six balls left and six runs to make. Tension ran high on the grounds, as the Thomians' chances of victory drew near.

Then came the last ball there were 4 runs needed, but thomian batsman Shanti Kumar could get only a single and Thomians had to be content with a draw as they finally made 116 for 4 wickets. K. C. Perera made 47 and Ronnie Weerakon 36 and the Thomians fell short of their target by 3 runs.

This was probably an action and tension-packed match played to the highest traditions of the game


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