How cricket spread far and wide from Kandy | Sunday Observer

How cricket spread far and wide from Kandy

23 July, 2022

Cricket was played in Kandy from about 1863 mainly in the Knuckles-Rangala and Kandy town which had the ABCD Club. In 1896 ABCD Club became Kandy Sports Club.

The first unofficial Test in Ceylon was played at the Bogambara ground in 1889. The exclusive European Kandy Sports Club invited local Ceylonese to play for them from 1920. In 1914 and 1916 overseas teams played at Bogambara and Asgiriya and in 1935 an Indian University team met the Up-Country team.

The Province Cricket Association was formed with Dr. Anthonisz as President. He offered the “Dr. VHL Anthonisz” shield for competition among clubs in the Kandy district.

The revival of Kandy district cricket took place on August 16, 1946 with Dr. VHL Anthonisz as Secretary and Col. Gordon Pyper as President. The teams that participated were Kandy Sports Club, University Scheme SC, Hatton SC, Gampola SC, Kandy Public Services SC, Nuwara Eliya Public Services SC, Agriculture Department SC, Kandy YMCA, Kandy YMBA SC and Kandy YMMA SC.

The inaugural tournament was won by Kandy Sports Club led by Francis Amarasinghe. In 1947 Central Province Cricket Association participated in the Zonal Tournament conducted by the Ceylon Cricket Association.

The Kandy District team was known as Central Zones and led by Philip Buultjens. There were two-day matches. Dr. Anthonisz did much for Kandy sports specially cricket and football. He was the surgeon to the then Governor. The CFCA hosted the first Commonwealth team (1950) and also the second Commonwealth team.

The Hyderabad Blues (1966), State Bank of India (1967), MCC (1969), Australia (1979), MCC (1973), India (1974) and Pakistan (1976) all played three-day matches against the Board President’s XI while Joe Listers team played a two-day match against the Government Services CA at the Campus ground. This match was hosted by the Government Services Cricket Association. All the matches from 1950 to 1976 were two-day games up to the granting of Test status in 1981.

In 1969 a limited overs match was played against the MCC, which the visitors won easily. In 1973 the MCC led by Tony Lewis won a limited overs game comfortably. In 1974 India met a Sri Lanka Board President’s XI at Katugastota and the match ended in a draw. The inaugural First Class match at Asgiriya was between the Sri Lanka Board President’s XI and Intikab Alam’s Pakistan side in 1976.

The Test era began in Kandy on 9.2.1982 with a three-day game on 22-2-1983 a year later. Asgiriya became the third Test venue in Sri Lanka and the 54th in the world. Since that game almost every team that visited Sri Lanka has played at Asgiriya. The inaugural Test with Australia began on April 22, 1983. Then came New Zealand followed by India, Pakistan, England’s Young Cricketers, England B, Bangladesh which was a part of the Asia Cup and Kenya in a World Cup match. So did South Africa, West Indies and Zimbabwe. Today all international cricket matches are played at the Pallekele Stadium some 15 kms away from Asgiriya.