105th Battle of the Lovers

Richmond-Mahinda evenly matched for a draw

By Dhammika Ratnaweera
Two leading schools from the Southern Province, Richmond College and Mahinda College will move on to the 105th edition of their biggest sporting event scheduled to be held on March 19-20 at the Galle International Cricket Stadium. The ‘Big Match’ famously known as the ‘Battle of the Lovers’ is the third oldest schools’ cricket match in the history of the game in Sri Lanka. The series began way back in 1905 and Richmond has won 21 of the matches while Mahinda has won 23. Having broken a 32-year deadlock of draws, the talented Mahindians, under the leadership of Rajith Priyan, registered an emphatic 10-wicket win over Richmond in the 2008 encounter. However the two teams are evenly balanced this time and a keen tussle can be expected at the Galle Stadium which is a batting paradise.

Going back to the series, in a record-breaking match in 1972, the Mahindians piled up the highest score by a team when they totalled 359 with their top order batsman PHKH Ranasinghe scoring a dazzling 162. He eventually became the highest individual scorer of the series. Just before Ranasinghe’s mammoth innings, Richmond’s stylish batsman Prasad Kariyawasam made his school’s highest score of 156 not out to set up the series highest score which unfortunately lasted just for a few hours only.

Mahinda bowler Somasiri Ambawatte captured all ten Richmond’s wickets in 1953 to claim the bowling record and in that match he scored a superb century to record a fine all-round feat. Two records at the ‘Battle of the Lovers’ also went into the Guinness Book of records. The first was by Mahinda wicket-keeper HB Bennett in 1953, when he claimed all ten wickets in the Richmond innings which was the only occasion in world cricket history that a wicket-keeper achieved that feat. The second record has been set by nine brothers of the Amendra family who all represented Mahinda in this series. In fact five of them played in one match which is also another record.

The two schools have produced many national cricket stars in the recent past such as Jayananada Warnaweera, Athula Samarasekara, Upul Chandana , Marvan Atapattu (who later crossed over to Ananda College Colombo), late Stanley de Silva (better known as DLS) and pacer Lasith Malinga who all brought credit to Mahinda. For Richmond, Champaka Ramanayake, Chamila Gamage and Suranga Lakmal are the three best products who had the honour to represent the national side. Ramanayake later did a superb job as Sri Lanka’s fast bowling coach and is presently doing the same job for the Bangladesh side.

The Richmond side is led this time by third-year coloursman Kusal Probodha, a right-hand stylish stroke-maker who opens the innings with Irosh Samarasooriya. Both are centurions in the side. Probodha scored a superb 178 against Wesley which was the highest individual score by a Richmond player in their series against Mahinda. Samarasooriya also batted with confidence stroking an unbeaten 201 against Revatha MV Balapitiya which is the first double century for Richmond. Last-year skipper Yasodha Lanka is an experienced player in the side and this will be his fourth big match. In fact Yasodha is Richmond’s best stroke player having made four centuries - 115 against Revatha MV, 178 against Dharmapala Pannipitiya, 184 against Maris Stella Negombo and 139 against St. Anne’s Kurunegala. Yasodha Lanka a right-hand batsman scored over seven hundred runs in nine matches. He was a member of the national under 19 team for the South Africa tour but unfortunately missed the under-19 World Cup tournament due to injury. Dananajaya de Silva is the other reliable batsman having scored over 700 runs with three centuries - 128 against Dharmasoka Ambalangoda, 106 against Holy Cross Kalutara and 155 against St. Aloysius Galle. Irosh Samarasooriya the right-arm medium-pacer opens the attack with Yasodha Lanka. Off-spinner Dhananjaya de Silva is the most successful bowler having taken 44 wickets with best figures of 4 for 6 against Holy Cross. Dileepa Priyadharshana is also a useful off-spinner while Charith Priyadharshana is the orthodox leg-spinner of the side. Suraj Palliyaguru keeps wickets for Richmond.

Mahinda is captained by sixth-year coloursman, Denuwan Rajakaruna, a talented wicket- keeper batsman who represented the national under-19 side. He scored 96 against West Indies at the World Cup in New Zealand. He played only five inter-school matches, due to national duty and scored 97 against St Joseph’s. Apart from Rajakaruna, last year’s skipper Romesh Buddika is the other junior national player from Mahinda with experience. Buddhika a sixth year coloursman played only two matches due to national duty and scored 100 against Nalanda. Buddhika is one of the best batsmen in the Sri Lankan under-19 side and scored 140 against South Africa and 52 against India. He also became the man of the series in the Australian cricket tour. The in-form batsman played for the Sri Lanka Combined XI in the inter-provincial tournament and scored 97 against Colombo South.

Kaushalya Gajasinghe a fifth-year player and vice captain is a successful left-hand middle-order batsman and right-arm off-spin bowler. He has scored over 750 runs with a century against Royal College. He is easily the best bowler of the side taking over 75 wickets. He had a match bag of 11 wickets which helped them defeat St. Thomas’ Matara this season. Sohan Kariyawasam and Nisala Tharaka are the opening bowlers of the side. Tharaka has taken over 50 wickets, with best bowling figures 8 for 36 against Ananda.

Mahinda coach Harsha Munasinghe in his fifth year with the team is confident his well balanced side with two experienced players Buddhika and skipper Rajakaruna could turn tables on Richmond. His Richmond counterpart Tharanga Indika, who took charge this year, feels his side is talented enough with four centurions to put up a strong challenge. Both coaches were of the view that it is going to be a high scoring game and a strong test for the bowlers of both sides.


110th Ruhunu Battle of the Blues

St. Servatius’ has edge over St. Thomas’

By Janith Weerasekera
In 1900 the cricket match between St. Thomas’ Junior College and St. Servatius’ College, known as the ‘Battle of Nilwala’, heralded the birth of another ‘Big Match’ in the South.
Later on, in 1984, it came to be called the ‘The Battle of Ruhuna’ and this year’s 110th edition, now called the Ruhunu ‘Battle of the Blues’ will take place at the Uyanwatte Stadium, Matara from March 19 to 21.
Throughout the history of the series St. Thomas’, Matara has won 33 matches and St. Servatius’ 27. The last victory was achieved by the Thomians in 2007.

To-date St. Thomas’ has produced players of the calibre of Indika Saram and Prabath Nissanka, while St. Servatius’ has produced the world class Sanath Jayasuriya and Ruchira Palliyaguru who represented Sri Lanka.
In the 2009/2010 season, St. Thomas’ played 15 games and won one match outright, had six 1st innings wins and drew the rest. St. Servatius’ played 12 games won three matches outright, gained three 1st innings wins, lost four games outright and two games on 1st innings.

Kasun Attanayaka, the skipper of St. Thomas’ with one century and five fifties has scored 750 runs during the season to become the highest run-getter. He has also claimed 40 wickets with his off-spinners. Third-year coloursman Ashan Dinura Ranasinghe has taken 70 wickets with his off-spin to become the highest wicket-taker for the season.

SN Madhushanka became the highest run-getter of St. Servatius’ with 400 runs in the season and AHD Sanjika Ridma with 70 scalps was their most successful bowler.
Attanayaka, the 4th year coloursman leads St. Thomas’ with 3rd year coloursman Dinusha Jayashanka as his deputy. The Thomians are coached by Charith Sanjeewa Palliyage and Sisira Weerasingha acts as master-in-charge.
St. Servatius’ is captained by GH Oshan Kalhara and he has Kasun Madushanka as his deputy. PB Buddhika is their cricket coach with PH Manjula the master-in-charge of cricket.


Old Sebastianites gift bowling machine to school

A new bowling machine was donated by the ’98 Forum of St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa for the use of the cricket teams of the school. Impressed by the performance of their 1st XI cricket team this year the ’98 Forum made the contribution. The event took place last Thursday (March 11) at the College ground in Moratuwa.


Carlton Super Sports 2010 at Tissa (March 17 – 21)

With much entertainment on the agenda, the 5th version of the country’s largest sporting event, the Carlton Super Sports 2010’ will begin from March 17 to 21 at the Ceylon Autodrome, in Tissamaharama. Cartlon Sports Club, which is the sports department of Tharunyata Hetak will organise this massive event along with the guidance of experts of respective governing bodies of each sport which will be a part of the five day event.

This year the organisers have added more events in order to include more excitement of the ever increasing number of spectators. The Carlton Super Sports 2010 will feature cycling, marathon, rowing, motor racing, extreme 4x4 racing, jet skiing, wind surfing, speedboat racing, mountain biking and tug-o-war events along with other entertaining activities. According to the organisers, the spectators who come to witness these events will not be charged in any way.

“This mega event will be absolutely free of charge for the public who will flock into Tissamaharama from all parts of the country. The past four years have been really rewarding. Each year we added new sporting segments with the demands of the increasing spectators. We hope this year will be more entertaining and more thrilling than the past years,” said Ronny Ibrahim, the Director of Sports for Tharunyata Hetak.

The five-day event will kick off on March 17 with the cycle race which is scheduled to begin from Point Pedro in the northern part of the country. This race will be the special feature of the event. With a massive distant of 621 kilometers to cover, the cycle race has been named as the ‘Unity tour of Sri Lanka’. This will be the first occasion where a race beginning from Point Pedro will reach its destination in Tissamaharama, a southern city of Sri Lanka. The funds raised at Carlton Super Sports 2010 will be utilised for the benefit of less privileged but talented sportspersons of the country. [MNA]