Sri Sumangala and Sri Rahula, schools that don’t brag about their products | Sunday Observer
Big match in Kandy to be revived:

Sri Sumangala and Sri Rahula, schools that don’t brag about their products

4 April, 2021
Asela Gunaratne is carried by Sri Lanka team-mates after he played a match winning innings against Australia in an ODI
Asela Gunaratne is carried by Sri Lanka team-mates after he played a match winning innings against Australia in an ODI

The much awaited cricket encounter called Kandy’s ‘Battle of the Golds’ between Wariyapola Sri Sumangala (St. Paul’s) College and Sri Rahula College, will take place for the 22nd time on April 24 and 25 hopefully at St. Anthony’s College ground at Katugastota. This game was not played for a few years over an internal matter. These are two of the oldest schools in Kandy although their big match is just over two decades old.

Sri Rahula College is a school with a history of over 130 years and one of the famous Mixed Colleges in the country. It was established in 1890, by the Buddhist Society led by Colonel Henry Steel Olcott. They were founded as Kandy High School on a piece of land at Katugastota. Later it became Sri Rahula College and at one time was well known for athletics, football and hockey and later in the field of mini rugby and today they are a major force in cricket too. Thanks to the efforts of their old boys, who have turned them into a sporting school.

One of their best products is Asela Gunaratne who played in the years 2002/4. He became the first Rahula cricketer to represent the country when he was selected for the tour of Zimbabwe. He was guided correctly by one of the top school coaches the late Aubrey Kuruppu, a well-known person in the coaching field.

Gunaratne joined the Army and improved his cricket and went on to represent the country. Some of the cricketers learnt their finer points at this school and later crossed over to other schools to gain more recognition in their cricketing careers and they are shy to say they started the game at this school. Then Ishara Rangana was selected as the “Most Popular Cricketer of the Year” by the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association. In 2019 they qualified to play in the semi-final of the under 19 Singer division III level I cricket tournament.

The Rahula cricketers beat St. Mary’s College Matugama in the quarter finals on first innings. The players who excelled and helped the team win were Dilshan Arambegedera, Tharindu Fonseka, Thushan Senarath, Lahiru Wijewardena, Krishantha Dilshan, Shairi Ranatunga, Janith Maitipe and Akash Gardiwasam.

Today Rahula cricketers play their matches at Prisons Ground Pallekelle and Police Ground. Their own ground at Katugastota is only fit for practices, because the length and breadth of the ground is short. The players right now are handicapped without a turf wicket.

This year Dilshan Arambegedara is the captain and a fine all-rounder. This year they are in the tournament fixtures with PDS Kularatne College Ambalangoda, Royal College Panadura, Henegama MMV and Kegalu Vidyalaya. The side is coached by the experienced D. Madushanka Damakage, a person with 20 years in cricket coaching who played for the senior side from 1998 to 2001 as a right arm paceman and middle order batsman.

He is well supported by the the master in charge M.J.S. Ariyasinghe a fine boxer during his schooldays at Peradeniya MV and their sporting Principal S.M.C. Weerakoon not forgetting the old boys.

This year the squad is made up of with players like Dilshan Arambegedara (Captain), Kushan Senarath the stumper, Vichintha Heshan, Sayuru Prabash, Janith Maitipe, Tharindu Fonseka, Thilanka Dasun, Akash Gardiwasam, Dhananjaya Madushanka, Malitha Nethmal, Kalana Thaveesha, Dulanjana Bandara, Kalana Wedika, Yasitha Wijeratne, Dismika Ratnayake, Athikshaya Ratnayake, Bashitha Amarawansha, Theekshana Dineth, Vishal Gardiwasam, Maleesha Dilshan, Sumeda Prasad and Kavishka Madumal.

Wariyapola Sri Sumangala earlier known as St. Paul’s College has a long history which is over 140 years. It was originated under the name St. Paul’s College as a junior school of Trinity College, Kandy. After laying the first brick on February 8, 1879, the new school was started as St. Paul’s English School. This school is also without a playing field.

This year their cricket captain is a fourth year Coloursmen in Thineera Akalanka a fine all-rounder who bats right hand and is steady off spinner and fielder at any position. His deputy is Priyantha Nelliga another fourth year player and a good stumper who bats right hand.

Wariyapola Sri Sumangala College Kandy has produced some top cricketers. According to history they are one of the first schools in Kandy to play cricket in 1894 and after a few years gave up the game. Then after 87 years in 1981 they restarted cricket due to the efforts of former Sri Lanka cricketer and Kandy Municipal Commissioner the late D.H. de Silva who coached them. Sri Lanka batsman Sajith Fernando was one of DH’s products from St. Paul’s at junior level who later crossed over to St. Anthony’s College.

Then the other finest cricketer to come out of this school is Prasanga Tennakoon who became the first cricketer of this school to score1000 runs. It was DDT Alwis who groomed him as a top batsman. The other coaches who helped this school are Tudor Gunaratne, Ranjith Colombage and H.M. Rikas. In 1988, Wariyapola Sri Sumangala College was the only team from Central Province to play in the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association tournament and entered the quarter finals of the Portello Trophy, before losing to Sri Sumangala College, Panadura, who went on to become champions. There was also Upali Wijesinghe - a well known Sinhala cricket commentator who did his best to encourage the boys.

Kandy Wariyapola Sri Sumangala is coached by Bandula Ranasinghe who is a very unassuming personality. He learnt his cricket at Vidyartha College and led the side in 1987 and later played club cricket and started coaching his old school in 1999 and continued till 2016.

Their principal is DMSD Dissanayake who along with the old boys are giving the team a big hand. This is one of the schools in Kandy which lacks a playground. Some of the cricketers learn the game at this school and when they come up to some standard they cross over to other schools.

This time they are in the under 19 Division III playing against Polonnaruwa Royal College, Ibbagamuwa Central, Nugawela Central, Al-Azar College Akurana and Wayamba Royal College. They posses a formidable batting line up with penetrative bowlers and good fielders.

The squad is made up of Thineera Akalanka (Capt), Priyantha Nellige (Vce Captain), Thenuka Ekanayake, Pasindu Malaka, Supun Gederagoda, Madushak Bimsara, Jatiya Weerasinghe, Madawa Ratnayake, Banuka Dissanayake, D. Dissanayake, Amila Ranatunga, Kaushika Bandara, Samiotha Avisheka, Pasan Hemange, Randika Dilshan, K.A. Sandeepa, Ruwan Pradeep, Sahan Bandara and Danushka Madushan.

The master in charge is JMSB Jayasundara and the POG is Srinath de Silva.