St.Anthony’s College, Kandy will be fielding a well-balanced side and the fight for places will be keen this season.
The Antonians have already sounded a warning to other schools when they scored an emphatic five-wicket win over Dharmaraja College last week. They should maintain this form for the rest of the season.
This school by the Mahaweli River has a big reputation to maintain as it has produced the best off-spinner in the world and the highest wicket taker in both versions of cricket, Muthiah Muralitharan.
Besides him it has also produced great cricketers like the legendary Jack Anderson, Charlie Joseph, A.C.M. Lafir, Franklin Burke, Bernard Perera and Ruwan Kalpage, just to name a few.
Leading the side this year will be all-rounder Kanishka Ranaraja who struck from with the bat towards the latter part of last season to score 550 runs and also captured 30 wickers with his medium pace.
He will spearhead the attack. He possesses qualities of leadership and should lead the Antonians successfully this season.
Fourth-year player and opening bat Manoj Sarathchandra is the deputy skipper of the side. Though missing the last few matches due to injury during the tail end of the season, he scored 729 runs with two centuries.
He is also the stumper of the side and accounted for 45 victories last season. A fine player he should be in the limelight this season.
All-rounder Saranga Rajaguru playing in his second year has been with the Sri Lanka junior national side for the past three years as a leg-spinner and a hard-hitting middle-order batsman.
He played only five matches last season due to junior national duty and captured 35 wickets and also scored 320 runs.
Opening bat and fourth-year player Yohan Woods is another player to watch. He has been consistent last year though not coming up with big scores.
Fifteen-year-old all-rounder Himasha Gunasinghe shows plenty of promise and his off-spin bowling needs watching as he bowled with venom last week to rout the Rajans.
He is also a good bat and has come up with some good scores. Sachin Bulathsinhala is another all-rounder holding much promise as a good middle-order bat and a useful off-spinner.
Both cricketers are from the junior team and have many more years of senior team cricket. The others who should be amongst he runs are Madhushan Pussella, Romesh Macinn and Dink Herath.
The bowling will be spearheaded by skipper Kanishka Ranaraja and Dinak Herath or Tharuka Jayasinghe with more pace coming from Charles Praveen and Chamal Gunasekera.
The Anthonians forte will be their spin attack which will be led by leg-spinner Sasanga Rajaguru and supported by off-spinners Nimesha Gunasinghe, Sachin Bulathsinghala, Romesh Macwinn, and leg-spinners Bhuwanaka Wijetunga, Bhathiya Liyanage and Pubudu Wijewardena.
Also vying for places in the side are Damithra Panditharatne, Lakshan Walagampaya and Dilan Bandara.
St. Anthony’s College First XI cricket squad: Kanishka Ranaraja (captain), Manoj Sarathchandra, Saranga Rajaguru, Yohan Woods, Himasha Gunasinghe, Sachin Bulathsinhala, Madhushan Pussella, Romesh Macinn, Dink Herath, Tharuka Jayasinghe, Charles Praveen, Chamal Gunasekera, Sasanga Rajaguru, Nimesha Gunasinghe, Romesh Macwinn, Bhuwanaka Wijetunga, Bhathiya Liyanage, Pubudu Wijewardena, Damithra Panditharatne, Lakshan Walagampaya, Dilan Bandara, Coach: Sujeewa Gunaratne, Assistant coach: Lakshman Panditharatne, Master in Charge: Keerthi Aluvihare.
Upcoming fixtures: February 10/11 v D. S. Senanayake at Katugastota, February 13/14 v St. Sebastian’s Moratuwa at Katugastota, February 17/18 v St. Joseph’s at Darley Road, February 21/22 v St. Peter’s at Katugastota, March 9/10 v Trinity (Big Match) at Asgiriya, March 16 v Trinity (50 over) at Asgiriya.