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.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Battle of the Blues 130 Years On

DN Fri Mar 13, 2009

The Royal-Thomian - 130 years on:
The Battle of the Blues Steeped in tradition

The most looked forward to sporting and social event in the calendar of both past and present Royalists and Thomians, the Royal vs. S. Thomas' big cricket match will be played for the 130th time on the March 12, 13 and 14 at the SSC at Maitland Crescent in Colombo.
S. Thomas' College Mount Lavinia, a private Anglican School has about 2,400 students on its roll while Royal College Colombo, a Government run non-denominational school has approximately 8,000 students.

Origins of Ceylon Cricket
History records S. Thomas' College Colombo (first in Mutwal and later in Mount Lavinia) as the first school to play cricket in Ceylon (as Sri Lanka was then known). In 1864, S. Thomas' has played the first match against the small Pass Cricket Club in Colombo. The result is recorded as an 8-run victory for the College. More importantly this 1864 match has gone down in history as the first recorded Ceylonese Cricket match played in the country. From 1864 to 1877, S. Thomas' has continued to play matches against the clubs - including the elitist European dominated Colombo Cricket Club - as there was no other school played cricket during that time in Ceylon.

The Royal-Thomian Big match celebrations
The sub-warden of the College Reverend Felton Falkner, a Cambridge 'Blue' has rendered Yeoman service to develop cricket at S. Thomas' during those initial years. A pioneer of cricket in Ceylon, Rev. Falkner has coached the boys and was the Thomian Cricket Captain for several years.

Mr. Ashley Walker also a Cambridge 'Blue' arrived in Ceylon in January 1877 to take up duties at the Colombo Academy in the Pettah (later renamed Royal College and shifted to Ried Avenue). Mr. Walker started coaching the Academy boys and organized the first Academy cricket team in 1878. The very first 'College vs. Academy' cricket match (as the Royal-Thomian was then called) was played in 1878. Incidentally this is the first cricket match played by the Colombo Academy, thus becoming the second school to play cricket in Ceylon.

Although the scores are not given, the result is recorded as a win for the College team by an innings and 3 runs. The second match in 1879 has ended in a win for the Academy team by 56 runs. But both these matches are not taken into account as masters played in both teams.
The first schoolboys only 'College vs. Academy' match was in 1880. J. W. de Silva captained the Academy and F. W. McDonnell led S. Thomas'. The result was a 62 runs win for the Academy.
World class cricketers

Since the 1880s, the hallowed match, which is the oldest uninterrupted and unbroken cricket series in the world, has churned out world class cricketers. Royal's Dr. C. H. Gunesekera, Sargo Jayewickrema, Col. F. C. de Saram, Sathi Coomaraswamy, C.I. Gunesekera, Gamini Goonesena, Ranjan Madugalle and Thomians A. C. Amath, D. L. de Saram, S. Saravanamuttu, Vernon Prins, Michael Tissera, Dr. B. G. Reid, Anura Tennekoon and Duleep Mendis, have captained the country at different levels against foreign teams.

Leaders as Cricketers
Even Sri Lanka's national leaders have played in the prestigious 'Battle of the Blues'. President J.R. Jayewardene played for Royal in 1925. The 'father of the nation' D.S. Senanayake played for S. Thomas' in 1901 and 1902, and Sir Francis Molamure played also for S. Thomas' from 1898 to 1903. Sir John Kotelawala has played for Royal in 1914 and 1915 and Dudley Senanayake played for S. Thomas' from 1927 to 1929. National hero Edward Pedris has turned out for S. Thomas' in 1907, while the only Ceylonese to be awarded the Victoria Cross for valour Basil Hosfall was a bit unfortunate to be named the 12th man in the Thomian team.

Great benefactors
Some of the great benefactors of Ceylon Cricket have also come from these two schools. Royalist Dr. John Rockwood was the founder President of the Ceylon Cricket Association. Thomian P. Saravanamuttu was the first President of the Board of Control for Cricket, and President of the Ceylon Cricket Association as well. Thomian Robert Senanayake was the longest serving president of the Board of Control for Cricket-20 yrs. He was also the President of the Ceylon Cricket Association. The Thomian Captain of 1899, F. L. Goonewardene of Kandy was another prominent benefactor.

Cricket Legends
Over the years, these two Colleges have produced many cricketing legends who went on to bring glory and honour to Sri Lanka. The first All-Ceylon Cricket Captain Douglas Lee de Saram (1922) who's also the first Ceylonese to get his name in the cricketers 'Bible' the Wisden (1912) played for S. Thomas' from 1989 to 1902. William Greswell, the top English County Cricketer who played in Ceylon during that time, has said in an interview: "If the Ceylon players are understudying their popular idol D. L. de Saram, they should continue to do so. No better model cricketer or sportsman ever donned flannels in Ceylon".

Famous sports writer S. P. Foenander has said: D. L. de Saram is the finest all-round cricketer and the most popular in the history of the game in Ceylon. For sheer stroke production and power he has never been surpassed and his presence in the cricket field has made him a cricket personality second to none in the history of the game in the island.

"Royalist Ranjan Madugalle is the Chief Match Referee of the International Cricket Council. Thomian Alfred Holsinger became Ceylon's first Cricket Professional (in England) in 1902. Thomian Dr. James Arthur Scharenguval is the first Ceylonese to play for a foreign country and also the first to play against a Test Country. He played for All-Scotland vs. South Africa in 1902 and vs. Australia in 1905. Thomian Michael Tissera captained All-Ceylon to its first ever unofficial Test victory over a Test Country in 1964 (Pakistan). He also led All-Ceylon to victory over India in India in 1965. Thomian Anura Tennekoon's innings of 169 not out against India ('74/'75) is rated as the finest technically correct innings played by a Ceylonese in the unofficial Test era. Thomian Duleep Mendis captained Sri Lanka to its first ever official test win in 1985 (India) and the first Asia Cup win in 1986 (Pakistan).

Royal-Thomian series records
Royalist Sumithra 'Charlie' Warnakulasuriya's marathon 197 scored in four and a half match sessions and spread over two days in 1980 is the highest individual score for the 3-day match. Thomian Duleep Mendis's champagne innings of 184 runs in 1972 remains at the top for the 2-day match. Thomian Bathiya Karunaratne's 100 runs in 101 balls (he scored 116 in 1997 is the fastest century. Thomian Fred Thomasz's 8 for 3 runs in 1884 in a single innings and Thomian Leonard Arndt's match bag of 14 for 55 are the best bowling feats. Another Thomian Ernest Wanduragala has also taken 14 for 76 in 1906. The wicket keeping record goes to Thomian Carl Cooke. He has had 9 dismissals - 2 st, 6 ct and 1 run-out - in the 1923 match.

Not many know that the time honoured match is played for the most coveted D.S. Senanayake Challenge Shield.

So after 129 'Battles' the score according to Royal records, stands at Royal College won 33 matches while S. Thomas' has won 34 matches. But according to S Thomas' College statistics the tally is: Royal College won 33 and S. Thomas' - 35 won! The difference is obviously due to the controversial 9-run match played in 1885. The Royalists say the match was drawn, but the Thomians record it as a win! Since then the fierce tussle for supremacy between the arch-rivals has brought out the very best in 'Royal Courage' and the fame 'Thomian grit' on the field and off it as well.

When asked to comment on the relationship between the two schools, former Royal College principal Bogoda Premaratne has had this to say: "There is no Royal without S. Thomas' and no S. Thomas' without Royal!"

(The writer is a Life member - Royal College Union and the Group of '76)


Post a Comment

<< Home