Dharmaraja and Kingswood to revive second oldest big match | Sunday Observer

Dharmaraja and Kingswood to revive second oldest big match

14 March, 2021

Dharmaraja College and Kingswood College are waiting to come out for this year’s big match and the date has been fixed for May 14 and 15 at Pallekele.

This is the second oldest big match in the country and the first match was played in 1893 at the Bogambara ground. It was not exclusively a schoolboy match as they included a few members of the staff from both schools. The first all-schoolboy big match was played in 1899.

This is the most looked forward to sporting event of the two schools and last year the match was not played due to the coronovirus.

Referring to a historic game, that was in 1960 - the big match ended in a tie and Kingwood’s Principal, Kenneth M. De Lanerolle, awarded the match to Dharmaraja having gone through the score book for better performances. Although the scores were the same, the Rajans had taken more wickets, not in catches and LBWs, but in clean bowling wickets. If this happens today the principal will be chased out.

Kenneth M De Lanerolle was a keen follower of cricket and was at this big match on the two days from the start to end at the Police ground matting wicket. The match ended in a tie and he wanted the two score books and after seeing the good work of Dharmaraja College awarded the win to them.

Kingswood’s last pair batted all evening to draw the game. Everything looked set for a draw, when in the final ball of the match they went for a needless run. The ball was returned, the stumps were broken, but no one was sure what happened, as the crowds had already invaded the pitch. Kenneth de Lanerolle was a stern man, with thick eyebrows and a solemn appearance. He was a man of letters, a master of literature, all set to be a leading, well respected educationist and a much loved Principal of both Kingswood and one time at Wesley College. He promptly consulted the scorers and conceded the victory to the better performance by Dharmaraja College.

So, this year all is set for the most looked forward to big match of the central hills and this will be the 114th encounter known as the Battle of the Maroons.

The first all-schoolboy Big Match was in 1899 with J.C. de Mel captaining Dharmaraja and T.B. Marshall leading Kingswood. In the 113 matches played so far, Dharmaraja leads with 33 wins against 19 by Kingswood with 56 matches ending in draws. The last win for Dharmaraja was in 2015 under Tharusha Weragoda and Kingswood’s last win was in 1958 under Maurice Fernando.

In 1918 Dharmaraja were all out for 9 runs, which to date is the lowest score in an innings in the series. This match was played on March 15 and 16 March.

Kingswood first innings 125 (VE Melder 0S Baie 15, HA Perera 13, RW Bartholomeusz 19, LB Herath 16, E. Dias 12, JB Murray 11, FM Abeyakoon 14, L. de Sylva 10, TH Cox 9 , HM Marikar 4 not out)

Dharmaraja first innings 9 (U. Banda 6, C. Fernando 0, C. Abeyasinghe 1, S. Abeyakoon 1, C. Wijesinghe 0, CG de Silva 0, AWG Perera 1, CM de Mel 0, A. Ratnayake not out 0, M. Perera 0, C. Wimalasena 0)

In 1943 the first century in the series was scored by PL Arthur Alwis of Dharmaraja College. It is interesting to note that the Rajans’ skipper TB Talwatte, was deprived of this honour as he was injured by the Kingswood pace bowler MT Jaimon and Talwatte had to leave the field temporarily during which time Arthur completed his century. Later, Talwatte too completed his century. Jaimon took 5 wickets for 90 runs for Kingswood. The match was won by the Rajans by an innings and 152 runs. PL Arthur Alwis also captured a match bag of 9 for 39.

In 1951 Kingswood led by left-hander Shelton RS Perera, scored an exciting win over Dharmaraja. Needing to score ten runs in six balls and one run in two balls they did with a ball to spare. The winning stroke was hit by the captain himself.

In 1952 Chandra de Silva scored 158 for Dharmaraja in the match played at Randles Hill. Asoka Perera scored 148 for Kingswood. The match ended in a draw. De Silva’s 158 was the highest individual score in the series to that date. In 1956 the highlight of the drawn encounter was the bowling feat of M. Nizar of Kingswood who took 6 wickets for 48 runs. In 1957 Kingswood amassed 401 for 9 wickets with Maurice Fernando scoring 101 runs. Dharmaraja replied with 269 runs in the first innings. In 1958 - Kingswood defeated Dharmaraja by 10 wickets and this was the last time Kingswood defeated Dharmaraja.

In this match Kingwood was captained by CM Fernando who was selected the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year. Dharmaraja was captained by DDT Alwis. The Kingswood opening pair, considered the best among the schools, was Maurice Fernando and Herly Jayasuriya. They put on an unbroken stand of 102 runs in the second innings enabling Kingswood to win. Herly scored a brisk 50 while Maurice scored 43.

The venue is called Randles Hill because the land and the original buildings were donated to the Methodist Church which was responsible for the administration of Kingswood College in 1925 by an English benefactor named Sir John Randles. It is in memory of this benefactor that this hill is called Randles Hill.

In 1967 Kingswood skipper Tissa Jayathilake batting well with Mohan Kodituwakku, declared the innings still short of 9 runs of a century, which would have earned him the distinction of scoring consecutive centuries having scored an unbeaten 100 in the 1966 match. Another feature of this match was the bowling of left-arm spinner Sena Abeygunaratne, who took 7 wickets for 32 runs in the Dharmaraja first innings of 143 runs. In 1976 and 1977 PB Wickremasuriya of Kingswood and Ajith Naranpanawe of Dharmaraja entered the record books by scoring centuries in both years thus becoming the only two players to score centuries in consecutive matches. In 1981 Dharmaraja College with captain Janaka Mendis registered an outright win over Kingswood College after 30 long years.

The highest individual score is by Senaka Dissanayake of Dharmaraja who made 200 in 1983 and for Kingswood Clifford Ratnavibushana who scored 167 in 1959.