4th ‘Battle of the Golds’

A skippers’ tussle to outwit each other

By M Naushad Amit
The latest of all big matches, the ‘Battle of the Golds’ between DS Senanayake and Mahanama will be played for the fourth consecutive year at the SSC ground on March 26 and 27. Though this encounter is in its early years there is every reason to believe it will be a success as the schools share close ties and similar traditions with DS Senanayake and Mahanama being leading Buddhist schools with a rich educational and sporting history.
With all three previous encounters ending in stalemates, this year both sides would extend their maximum effort to end the contest with a win. However both teams are poised evenly for this year’s battle. But DS Senanayake will go in as favourites having won 2 and lost 2 in 16 matches played in the tournament. Mahanama have won 2 but have lost 5 matches out of 15 played during the season. With DS Senanayake proving to hold a slight edge against their opponents, they will also have the advantage of a strong batting line-up backed by a combined bowling component.

Captains of both teams, Charith Jayampathy of DS Senanayake and Danushka Gunathilaka of Mahanama are well experienced counterparts having played together with the Sri Lanka under-19 national team. Together they contributed well to achieve a magnificent 3-2 win against Australia to clinch the Tri-Nation tournament played in Sri Lanka. Before the World Cup which was held in New Zealand they played major roles in a tour of South Africa. Both teams rely heavily on their respective skippers as the encounter will also be a sort of psychological warfare between two leaders who are well aware of their weaknesses and strengths.

With two leading run-getters and a fairly balanced middle-order DS Senanayake looks stronger in batting than their rivals with 8 coloursmen and 7 freshers in their squad. Chamod Wickramasinghe and Charith Satharasinghe who are in-form with the bat can be handy for DS Senanayake with other batsmen viz. Thusith Silva, Wasuki Wetakepotha, Malshan Gunasinghe and Madumal Weerasinghe looking forward to strike with bigger scores in the big match. All-rounder Malshan Gunasinghe who is an off-spinner is their leading wicket-taker with 72 wickets and young leg-spinner Mohamed Ijaz who has claimed 54 scalps will have to play striking roles in the pace combination with skipper and left-armer Jayampathy. DS Senanayake have recorded wins against Kalutara Vidyalaya and St. Patrick’s Jaffna but lost to Isipathana and St. Sylvester’s Kandy while drawing 12 matches.

Identically Mahanama also have recorded two wins against President’s and Joseph Vaz Wennappuwa. In contrast to DS Senanayake they have lost five encounters against Dharmapala, Isipathana, Lumbini, Nalanda and Moratu Vidyalaya while having drawn 8 matches. Mahanama too have a couple of batsmen who are in good form in Duleeka Tissakuttige and Randika Welikannage. Indunil Sandalanka, Hashan Perera and Sajith Ruberu are other batsmen who are in good shape and can be helpful for Mahanama. Leg-spinners Sandalanka who is their leading wicket-taker with 57 wickets and Welikannage with 32 victims are the main bowling weapons while right-hand pacemen Aravinda de Silva and Chathura Wanniarachchi will have to play key roles in the bowling attack. Mahanama has 9 coloursmen and 8 freshers in their squad.

Both schools have produced excellent cricketers with some representing the national team. Mahanama College had the distinction of producing a cricketer of the calibre of Lalithamana Fernando in the early 1980s who represented Sri Lanka in the ‘Nehru Cup’ under skipper Dulip Mendis. The next Mahanama player to reach the top was Vipula Sittamige who played for the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team in 1989. Sittamige is currently in charge of Mahanama cricket. D.S. Senanayake College has the honour of producing Aravinda de Silva, the greatest ever batsman Sri Lanka produced. After Aravinda another great DS cricketer was Hashan Tillakaratne a former captain of the Sri Lanka Test team on whom the Marylebone Cricket Club bestowed the great honour of life membership. The others who excelled were Pubudu Dasanayake, Pulasthi Guneratne, Naveed Nawaz, Kosala Kuruppuarachchi, Malintha Gajanayake and Kanchana Gunawardena.


22nd ‘Battle of Kelaniya’

A barren series of draws

By Dhammika Ratnaweera
The 22nd annual cricket encounter between Dharmaloka MV and Gurukula MV, known as the ‘Battle of Kelaniya,’ will be played on March 23 and 24 at the P. Sara Oval Stadium. The first encounter between these two schools was played in 1988 and, though neither of the schools has managed to register a win in this series, both teams are said to be going flat out to gain their maiden victory and break the 21-year deadlock.
A highlight in the cricket history of these schools is that all-rounder Gayan Ramyakumara Wijekoon brought honour to Gurukula MV by representing the national team and is the only player to achieve that feat from the two schools so far.

Both sides have experienced all-rounders and they are expected to make a positive approach for a result. However, when comparing the two teams, Dharmaloka has got a clear edge over their arch rivals. Last year Dharmaloka team finished third in the Munchee Under-19 Division Two Tournament and most of the members of that side remain to play this year under the guidance of their coach Udaya Perera. Sixth-year coloursman, Iranga Krishan, is leading the Dharmaloka side and will be the glove man of the team as well. Krishan, also a member of the under-19 Western Province cricket pool already has scored over 650 runs. In addition he has already accounted for 15 victims behind the stumps and is expected to come off in this match.
Sameera Madushanka a third year player is the deputy skipper of the side. Though the left-hander failed to impress with the bat, he has managed to capture more than 60 wickets with his off-spinners. Nilanka Subodha and Chatura Lakmina will also play a key role for Dharmaloka. Subodha is the only centurion of the side and has already scored more than 350 runs this season. Sulaj Gayashan, the leg-spinner and medium-pacer Pradeep Sampath will strengthen their bowling department.
In this school season the Dharmaloka team has managed to record a victory over St. Xavier’s College Marawila while they notched up first-innings wins over St. Patrick’s Jaffna, St. Anthony’s Wattala and Ibbagamuwa Central and also maintain an unbeaten record.

Meanwhile Gurukula Vidyalaya, led by sixth year coloursman, Sheshan Niwanka, has the services of deputy skipper Rukshan Bandara, Rasika Kotthagoda, Thushara Lakshitha and Kasun Udara, who are all fourth year players. Skipper Niwanka has scored over 550 runs with four half-centuries and is also a useful off-spinner with nearly 50 wickets in this season. The experienced player also got a chance to represent the Western Province and Gampaha District cricket teams last season. Rukshan Bandara, also a member of the Co- Cola Cricket Pathway squad is a key all-rounder for Gurukula. He has taken over 30 wickets with his leg-breaks. Thushara Lakshitha is the wicket-keeper of the side and had scored over 450 runs. Gayan Buddhika and Roshan Anuruddha are the bowlers who share the new ball and are expected to make early breakthroughs in the match. Gurukula coach Lal Senaratna is ready to face the challenge with his team to break the jinx of boring drawn games this time by approaching the game with a positive mentality of playing bright cricket.

Meanwhile the two schools will meet again in their annual one-day encounter on March 28th at the same venue. This will be their 19th limited over encounter and the series is led by Dharmaloka with ten victories, Gurukula has won seven and one match ended in a no-decision.


‘Mathata Thitha’ at ‘Battle of the Golds’

Two leading Buddhist educational institutions, DS Senanayake and Mahanama Colleges, which play their annual ‘Big Match’ for the fourth consecutive year, have pledged to introduce a new tradition by banning alcohol and prohibited drugs at the venue of their encounter, the SSC. This was revealed by the heads of the two schools at a press briefing held to announce the proceedings of the 4th ‘Battle of the Golds’ at the NCC pavilion last Tuesday.

“As principals of two leading schools in Colombo, we want to set a benchmark for others who have been organising ‘Big Matches’ for many years. Our encounter is one of the most recent compared to the other ‘Big Matches’ in the country. But, in keeping with the Presidential Secretariat direction, we wish to conduct a liquor-free but fun-filled event so that cricket lovers will understand that alcohol and drugs are not essential at sports extravaganzas such as ‘Big Matches’,” said Asoka Senani Hewage and Premalal Kumarasiri, the respective principals of DS Senanayake and Mahanama.

Hewage, who incidentally is the President of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association added: “We have advised the members of the organising committee to make arrangements to provide DJ music, Papare Bands and other entertainment to make sure that this encounter would be exciting and enjoyable.”
He further pointed out that ‘Big Matches’ at present face criticism due to unruly incidents which are mostly caused due to the after effects of liquor. “We hope this move will also create true sportsmanship among spectators. Nowadays we see a lot of unaccepted behavior from spectators at ‘Big Matches’ after consuming alcohol. These incidents go to the extent of Police cases and it’s bad for the name of the schools. We have arranged thorough security check-ups at all entrances to make sure that nobody brings these products to the ground,” Hewage said.

Answering a question on what their stand would be if the organisers find spectators entering the venue after consuming alcohol from outside Hewage said; “That will be a different case but we will make sure even such things would not take place during the two days of the ‘Big Match’. We will discuss these matters further and find ways to make the event free of alcohol. All past pupils, parents and students have been advised on this and we expect their support in this matter. (MNA)


Aamil Anas going great guns

By Hafiz Marikar
Trinity College spinner Aamil Anas becomes the second bowler from the school this season to capture over 50 wickets. The first to take 50 wickets was Suresh Wickrema.
To bowl leg-spin is not an easy task there are better ways for a schoolboy cricketer to enjoy life as a cricketer. Bowling this type, several have succeeded only for a short period. Aamil does not belong to this category. Playing his first full season, Aamil has earned a reputation of being one of the most accomplished bowlers in the Trinity side today.

His team mate, Akila Jayasundara, a top class bowler who took over 100 wickets last season says Aamil is a fine bowler and should perform like last year’s skipper Rushan Jaleel, a Sri Lanka Youth cricketer.
Aamil hails from a sporting family. His father ALM Anas was a fine hockey player during his days at Trinity College and later for Kandy. His grandfathers were great followers of cricket - former Minister and MP Abdul Cader and the late AR Latiff of ‘Riyasala’.

Aamil started his sporting career playing under 13 cricket and later switched to rugby. Last year, he took to cricket and played for the senior side in one game. In the current season, he has played eleven games and taken 55 wickets. He played a major role in their historic win over S. Thomas’ College Mt. Lavinia after 17 years.