A Cricketing Century between Trinity and St. Anthony’s … Hallelujah!

Lalin Fernando,  in Daily News, 9 March 2017,where the title runs “A century of friendly rivalry’: Trinity-Antonian big match”

It will not just be a historic moment for Kandy’s two great educational institutions, but a milestone in Sri Lankan school cricket when Trinity College takes on St. Anthony’s College in their Centenary Battle of the Blues in Kandy on March 10 and 11 under the theme of ‘A century of friendly rivalry’ at the Pallekekke International Cricket Stadium.

 Joint Committee heads, Asela Herath (President – Old Antonian Cricket Wing – right extreme) and Nilantha Ratnayake (President – Trinity Cricket Foundation – second from right) handing over the John Halangoda Challenge Trophy to the two principals

The Trinity-Antonian joint committee called upon a press briefing at Hotel Galadari recently to announce an array of activities they have organised in line with the Centenary Big Match and to launch a new website www.trinityantonian.com where one can find important information related to the big match from its inception in 1914 to-date and all activities the joint committee has arranged in celebration of Centenary big match. The launch of the Centenary big match logo which will be used in all activities related to the match was also in the agenda of the day.

The sixth oldest school cricket encounter of the country has an excellent record from the beginning and known to be the most peaceful big match in Sri Lanka, with no incidences of hatred and clashes throughout the 100 years. The brotherhood and rich tradition, the two schools are bestowed with have made the Trinity-Antonian big match one of the biggest annual sporting events in the Hill Capital.

The two schools have an impressive cricket history and are also two of the oldest schools to take up the game in Sri Lanka. Trinity entered the game first and played the first match in 1893 followed by Antonians in 1899. After 99 years the big match tally stands 23 victories for Trinity and 12 wins for St. Anthony’s with 64 matches ending in draws. Trinity dominated the pre-independence era winning most of the matches and Antonians registered most of their wins after 1948. The John Halangoda Challenge Trophy was introduced to the big match during the later part of the last century in memory of an outstanding Trinitian who subsequently turned out to be a great cricket coach at St. Anthony’s. Shanogeeth Shanmuganathan will captain the Trinity side while Mohamed Alf will be the skipper of the Antonians at the Centenary big match. It will be interesting to see who will be the lucky captain to take home the special gold coin embossed with the Centenary big match logo which will be use for the toss.

When asked why Trinity-Antonian encounter does not follow the tradition of extending the match to a three-day affair with the dawn of the centenary, a joint committee member replied that they had lengthy discussions over the matter and said most of the Old boys of the two schools are living out of Kandy or abroad. So most of Old boys from outside Kandy stay only for the one-day match due to their other commitments. Even though for the Centenary match they expect a large gathering of expatriates and locals, they have decided to continue as a two-day match mainly due to lack of spectators. “We will also continue the big match at our school venues after the centenary match,” he explained.

Both schools have produced excellent cricketers who have graced the national and international arena. Among them are Jack Anderson, A.C.M. Lafir, Mahesh Goonatilleke, Bernard Perera, Marlon Von Hagt, Ruwan Kalpage, Piyal Wijetunga, Muthiah Muralitharan, and Sajith Fernando (all from St. Anthony’s) and Ravi Ratnayeke, Nilantha Ratnayake, Kaushalya Weeraratne, Kumar Sangakkara, Sachith Pathirana, Niroshan Dickwella, and Lahiru Kumara (all from Trinity) to name a few.

St. Anthony’s principal Rev. Fr. Rector Henry Bernard Wijeratne said that the specialty of the Trinity-Antonian big match is that it was never played for a win at any cost over the years. It has always maintained the gentle-manliness and friendship between the two schools. “This indeed is a remarkable achievement by two of the oldest schools in Kandy. Hill Country’s Battle of the Blues has been a great platform that showcases class, talent and spirit of friendly revelry,” Rev. Fr. Rector emphasized.

Speaking about the Centenary big match Trinity principal Andrew Fowler-Watt expressed his joy of being a part of this historic moment and said, “We have to show what sports should stand for. The two schools have set an example to other schools over the 100 years and hope they’ll continue it for long. People from all around the world come here to be a part of this Centenary match, so we have to preserve the spirit of the game. I am eagerly waiting to celebrate my first big match win with Trinity this time,” Fowler-Watt said.

Chairman, Organising Committee Chandrika Jayawardena explained the long list of activities the joint committee has lined up to celebrate this cricketing milestone. Among them, Antonian Global Conference (March 8 – Colombo), Antonian Cocktail Evening (March 8 JAIC Hilton), Antonians Vehicle parade (March 9), Traditional tea party (March 9 at school), Centenary night (March 10 – Earl’s Regency), Antonian Cricket carnival – softball (March 12 – college grounds), Centenary Dinner Dance (March 18 – Earl’s Regency) are the prominent events.

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