Can Antonians break the 48-year old hoodoo?

St. Anthony’s College Vs St. Peter’s College 1st XI Cricket encounter

by AFZAL LAPHIR

St Anthony’s College Kandy and St Peter’s College Colombo, two of the finest cricket-playing schools in the country, are scheduled to play their traditional two-day game on the 5th and 6th March at Bambalapitiya. The Antonians who last won in 1976 will be looking to taste success after a lapse of 48 years.

Last year, the Antonians narrowly missed securing a win at Katugastota, as the visitors’ last-wicket pair successfully negotiated the final 2 overs to draw the game. Thisara Ekanayake played a crucial role both with the bat and the ball. He scored 54 runs in the Antonians’ only innings and then took a match-bag of 10 wickets for 100 runs (3/20 & 7/80), pushing them to the brink of victory. Skipper Lahiru Abeysinghe was the top scorer for the home side, contributing 73 runs in just 45 balls to their massive first innings score of 352/9 in only 78 overs. Alongside Thisara’s half-century, Kavindu Shehan (54) and Induwara Galapitage (47) joined in the batting feast. Sanshay Gunathilaka held firm for the Pete’s in the second innings, contributing an unbeaten 32 off 103 balls. (SACK 352/9d; SPC 149 & 131/9)

When the two teams met in Katugastota, in 2020

This encounter was not played in 2022 due to the situation that prevailed in the country, which incidentally was the only occasion post-war that this traditional annual encounter failed to take place.

HISTORY OF ST ANTHONY’S & ST PETER’S CRICKET ENCOUNTER

According to our records, the two schools first met in October 1932 for a ‘Whole Day ‘game in Colombo which St. Peter’s College won on the first innings. This is believed to have been a third-term fixture of the 1933 season. After a lapse of three years, a further ‘Whole Day’ game was played in 1936 which also ended in a first-innings win for the Colombo boys.

The two-day encounters started in earnest in 1937 and have continued annually up to 2021, with the only exception being 1942 to 1945 when sports at St Peter’s College took a break as a result of World War II.

The tally to-date reads: Played 83 games, 18 wins to SPC and 6 wins to SACK and the rest ending in draws. SPC tally includes first innings wins registered in the first two encounters in 1933 and 1936, which were both ‘Whole Day’ games and also the 50-over game played in 2021.

SPC – 18 wins – 1933^, 1936^, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1955, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1980, 1981, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2015, 2018 and 2021* (^ ‘Whole Day’ games, * one-dayers)

SACK – 6 wins – 1939, 1948, 1951, 1956, 1957 and 1976

No Matches – 1934, 1935, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945 and 2022.

 

INDIVIDUAL RECORDS:

Batting – Highest Scores:

SPC – Tyrone Le Mercier 235*in 1962 (Katugastota).

SACK – Mohan Ratnakumar 204 in 1978 (Katugastota)

 

Bowling – Most wickets in an inning:

SPC – Rumesh Ratnayake 8/23 (match bag 13/37) in 1981; Maurice Decker 8/32 in 1963;

SACK – Bede Perera 8/26 in 1975; Mahesh de Alwis 8/47 in 1985

 

1930 Decade – (SPC 2, SACK 1)

 

Now, let us turn back the clock and re-visit the encounters between the two Saints schools from the inception, but will only explore those games that produced an outright result or were historical in nature or that ended in a thrilling fashion.

The ‘Whole Day’ match in 1936 (28 March) ended in a comfortable first innings win to St Peter’s at Wellawatte. The home side was only two wickets away from an innings win when stumps were drawn with C. Dias (6/21 and 4/19) running through the Antonians, capturing a match bag of 10/40. J.R de Silva (57*) and T Herat (50) scored half-centuries for the Petes.  (SPC 218/7; SACK 108 and 28/8)

The inaugural 2-day game in 1937 (12 and 13 March) ended in a draw at Bogambara, as heavy rains on the second afternoon helped the local team to avert defeat. Openers Louis de Niese (44) and Percy Perera (65) helped the Petes reach 198 and then R Van Cuylenburg (5/20) demolished the Antonians for 96. After being asked to follow on, the home side reached 13/1 when the heavy rains made an abrupt end to play. (SPC 198, SACK 96 and 13/1)

The Antonians tasted their maiden success in 1939 under Denis Roberts, helped largely by a glorious innings of 82 from Ralph Harris in a low scoring affair and a fine spell of bowling from Charles Schubert (5/26). This game also marked the first encounter between the two schools at Katugastota. (SPC 101 and 107; SACK 151 and 57/4)

1940 Decade – (SPC 3, SACK 1)

The clash in 1940 ended in an absorbing draw on a slow and sodden outfield in Colombo. A splendid spell of bowling by Samarasinghe (5/8) triggered a batting collapse, that curtailed the Petes first innings score to 95 after being 89/4. Kuthdoos (5/14) then had the Antonians crashing to 79 in their second innings (SACK 130 and 79; SPC 95 and 95/6)

The 1941 encounter ended in a tame draw at Katugastota with E Schokman (60 & 32*) of St Peter’s scoring the only half-century of the game. V Joseph (48) and Ralph Harris (43) batted well for the Antonians in the second innings to set up a target of 117 in even time. The visitors finished 36 runs short with six wickets in hand. (SACK 198 & 176/5d; SPC 258 & 81/4)

The Petes under Dion Walles won consecutive games when the series resumed after World War II, following a four-year break. In the 1947 encounter, SACK were bundled out for a paltry 48 on their way to a 10-wicket loss at Mount Lavinia. Wickremasinghe bowled best for the Petes and Samaradasa (50) and Dunuwille (6/57) were the top performers for the Antonians. (SACK 48 and 101; SPC 124 and 27/0)

In 1948, the Antonians registered arguably their best “come-from-behind” wins in history at Katugastota. A fine spell of bowling by Pararajasingham (6 for 62) helped restrict the Petes to 261, but the host’s batting failed to fire in the first innings and were asked to follow on with 141 runs in arrears. Antonian openers Cooray (82) and Hannan then set up the game with an opening stand of 127. Chasing 102 for victory in 50 minutes, the visitors reached 88 for 3 and then a sensational collapse saw them lose their last six wickets for just 3 runs to give the Antonians a 9-run win. The bowling hero for the home side was TK Hannan with figures of 7/30. (SPC 261 and 92; SACK 120 and 241)

In the following year, the Antonians were given the privilege of testing the Bambalapitiya turf for the first time and were promptly thrashed by an inning. (SPC 260; SACK 105 and 132)

 

1950 Decade – (SPC 2, SACK 3)

This decade was the most productive for the Antonians, registering three wins and another near-victory.

The Petes started the decade strongly by registering an innings victory in 1950 at Katugastota. The visitors amassed 314 with Paiva, HIK Fernando, Ghouse and Kelly doing all the scoring and then dismissed the local team for 171 and 124. (SPC 314; SACK 171 and 124)

In 1951, Antonians registered an impressive 7-wicket win at Bambalapitiya, which was made possible by a splendid bowling performance from the pace duo of Upali Dorenagama (4/43 and 5/48) and Tissa Udurawana (3/20 and 2/29). (SPC 105 and 128; SACK 154 and 80/3)

Four years after the thrilling 1948 encounter, the Petes showed courage by enforcing the follow on yet again in 1952 at Katugastota and on this occasion, the game didn’t have the thrills of the previous clash as the Petes finished on 43/5 chasing a target of 93. An opening stand of 118 between ACM Lafir and Ronnie Stephen in the second innings took the hosts to safety. SPC 233/9 and 43/5; SACK 129 and 196/9 dec)

In 1954, the Antonians had the hosts on the brink of defeat at Katugastota, with Pete’s last pair holding firm when stumps were drawn. The dramatic end saw skipper ACM Lafir turning his arm over to capture two wickets in the last over of the game. Twin fifties by Ronnie Stephens (79 and 72) and a pleasing 59 from Ranjith Dorenagama on debut held the Antonian batting together. Lafir (48) and Tom Deen (46) made quick runs in the second innings looking for an early declaration. The bowling honours were shared between J Abdeen and Sivananthan. (SACK 246 and 193/3d; SPC 189 and 141/9).

In the following year at Bambalapitiya, St Peter’s romped home by 10 wickets, with their left-arm swing bowler M.Salgadoe capturing a match bag of 10/40 and also top scored with 44 in a low scoring game. (SACK 63 and 81; SPC 137 and 14/0).

The Antonians came back strongly in 1956 under Wijepala Premartne with a comfortable innings win at home against a strong Peterite outfit.  (SACK 327/7; SPC 110 and 207)

The 1957 clash at Bambalapitiya gave the Antonians their second successive win, by 54 runs, despite being shot out for a meagre 92 in the first innings, succumbing mainly to the left-arm spin of Russell Duckworth (5/19). Then, Adrian Berenger (5/15) made sure the Petes were kept in check. (SACK 92 and 151; SPC 115 and 74)

A superb unbeaten century by Antonian skipper SW Seneviratne (149*) and a fine spell of bowling by his teammate Franco Rudolph (6/8) were the highlights of the drawn game in 1958 at Katugastota. (SPC 278 and 74; SACK 251 and 43/0).

Another draw was registered in 1958 but not before a breezy unbeaten 115 by Antonian skipper Charlie Joseph and a hostile spell by Pete’s Anton Perera (5/78) stole the show. (SPC 272 and 108/8; SACK 242/9d)

 

1960 Decade – (SPC 3, SACK 0)

St Peter’s was easily the dominant team in the 1960s, winning three games to none.

Petes fell short by one wicket to topple the Antonians at Katugastota in 1962. This game though was memorable for the marathon unbeaten innings of 235 by Peterite vice-captain Tyrone Le Mercier. To this day, after 60 years, this inning remains as the highest score in First XI cricket at Katugastota. Le Mercier came in to bat at 41/4 and was stranded when the last wicket fell at 383. His innings lasted almost four hours and included 30 fours and 2 sixes. (SPC 383; SACK 109 and 209/9)

Petes went on to register victories in each of the next three home games in 1963 (by an inning), 1965 (by an inning) and 1967 (by 9 wickets)

1963 – (SPC 207; SACK 86 and 79); 1965 – (SPC 219; SACK 83 and 82); 1967 – (SACK 68 and 151; SPC 208/5d and 12/1)

 

1970 Decade – (SPC 0, SACK 1)

The Antonians had the better of the exchanges in the 1970s. Although they won only one game, four other encounters could have gone their way if time had been in their favour.

When the Peters travelled to Katugastota in 1970, they experienced the host’s turf for the first time. The highlight of this drawn encounter was the dismissals of Mahesh Gunathilaka (99) and Roy Dias (93) in their nineties. Mahesh and Roy, who both had a chance of scoring the first century on Antonian turf, ended up as teammates when Sri Lanka played its inaugural Test match in 1982. (SACK 194 and 168/7; SPC 178/8d and 123/2)

In 1972, The Antonians hosted St Peter’s and had them on the brink despite a brilliant innings of 111 (118 mins 21 fours) by Roy Dias in the first innings. Needing only 57 runs to win, the game ended in a draw as the home side couldn’t start their innings. (SPC 200 and 140; SACK 284). The Antonians dominated the drawn game in 1974 at Katugastota, helped by an unbeaten hundred by Bernard Perera (103*) – (SACK 295/9 and 0/0; SPC 209 and 153)

The 1975 encounter in Katugastota is best remembered for a sensational spell of bowling by Bede Perera (8/26) which almost helped the visitors pull off a win. Chasing 88 to win, the Antonians finished the game on 74/3. (SPC 155 and 116; SACK 183/7d and 74/3)

The only outright result in the 1970s was recorded by Bernard Perera’s side in 1976 at Katugastota, which incidentally remains their last win in this series. The Antonians defeated the visitors by seven wickets, their first win since 1957. After conceding a first inning lead of 17 runs, Peterites were shot out for just 89 with spinners Thaiyar Mohamed (4 for 43) and Skipper Bernard (4 for 28, match bag 7 for 71) doing the damage. The home side reached the target of 74 for the loss of three wickets. Ranjith Peiris’ knock of 80 in the first innings was the top score for the match. (SPC 182 and 89; SACK 199 and 74/3).

The game in 1977 ended in a thrilling draw with hosts St Peter’s finishing at 93/6 in pursuit of 110 runs in 90 minutes. (SACK 180 and 112; SPC 183/9d and 93/6)

Antonian Mohan Ratnakumar’s epic 204 was the highlight of the drawn game at Katugastota in 1978.

(SPC 214/8d and 185/4; SACK 374)

 

1980 Decade – (SPC 2, SACK 0)

Rumesh Ratnayake was at his rampaging best at the start of the decade, helping St Peter’s register successive wins in 1980 and 1981. He captured 22 wickets in these two encounters and announced himself as a future Test star.

Rumesh Rathnayake

The win by St Peter’s in 1980 under Rohan Buultjens was marred by a controversial run-out of LV Ekanayake by the Peterite wicket-keeper Amal Silva. Play was stopped for over 15 minutes when the crowd became restive following Amal’s ‘fake fielding’ attempt when he gestured that the ball had travelled towards third-man when it was lodged in his pads. Amal (81), skipper Buultjens (64 and 27*) and Rumesh Ratnayake (3/55 and 6/65) were the best performers for the visitors. (SACK 225 and 147; SPC 285/9d and 87/2 )

The crushing innings defeat to St Peter’s led by Michael Elias at Bambalapitiya in 1981 came just a week before the famous big match for the Antonians. Rumesh Ratnayake almost single-handedly demolished the visitors by returning match figures of 13 for 37 (8 for 23 and 5 for 14). The Peterite inning was dominated by centurions, Rohan Paulas (104) and Dane Joseph (112*). (SPC 294/4d; SACK 89 and 144)

The 1983 clash required some dour batting by the Antonians to force a draw at Bambalapitiya, occupying the crease for 330 minutes to score 152/5 in their second innings at stumps. Senerath Seneviratne (5/23) set up the game by dismissing the visitors for only 102 in the first innings. (SACK 102 and 152/5; SPC 191/7d)

An exciting draw was played out at Bambalapitiya in 1985, with the Antonians falling short by 23 runs with three wickets in hand. Chasing 117 to win in even time, the visitors were in the game during a rollicking 50-run partnership between Damian Nadaraja and skipper Angelo Wickremasuriya, but unfortunately, the wickets started to tumble late, leaving them at 94/7 at stumps. This game will be remembered for an outstanding spell of off-spin bowling by Mahesh de Alwis (8/47) in the second innings and a match bag of 11/55. (SPC 98 and 148; SACK 130 and 94/7)

In 1987, a likely victory was snatched away from the Antonians at Bambalapitiya, as rain made an abrupt closure with the visitors sitting pretty at 71 for 2 chasing 77 in 11 overs, with an over yet to be bowled. Ruwan Kalpage had a good all-round game scoring 67 and 24 in addition to taking 4 for 36. Priyantha Perera (82) played a crucial knock in St Peter’s second innings to save the day for the home team. (SPC 147 and 147; SACK  218/6 and 71/2)

 

1990 and beyond – (SPC 6, SACK 0)

Mutthiah Muralitharan’s match bag of 10/72 (4/45 and 6/27) dominated the drawn clash in 1990 at Katugastota.

St. Anthony’s College 1991 1st XI

An unbeaten 167-run stand for the sixth wicket between Amedha Ellepola (110*) and Umesh de Alwis (60*) took The Antonians to safety in 1992 at Katugastota, after being precariously placed at 38/5 in response to Peter’s first innings total of 232/4 declared. (SPC 232/4d and 164; SACK 205/5 and 30/2)

In 1996, Antonian all-rounder Indika Fernando scored his maiden ton, when he plundered a bright 114 (15 fours, 2 sixes and facing 148 balls) at Katugastota.

A fine all-round performance by Antonian skipper Mahesh Palihakkara (55* and 8/114) and a hectic 146 by Peterite Angelo Fonseka dominated the high-scoring draw at Katugastota in 1998. (SACK 278/4 and 137/2; SPC 317)

In 2001, dogged batting by the Antonians on the second day helped them to save the game at Bambalapitiya, after being shot out for 88 in the first innings. Peterite Malin Silva’s entertaining 122 and N Wijeratne’s 5/26 were the highlights for the home side. For the Antonians, Nafees Nizam (5/ 96) and Tyrone de Silva (73) played well. (SACK 88 and 174/4; SPC 303)

After 27 consecutive drawn encounters since 1981, Peterites broke the hoodoo by defeating the Antonians at home in 2009. They followed up with another win in 2010 at Katugastota, defeating the hosts by 10 wickets. (SPC 240 and 4/0; SACK 130 and 113)

St. Peter’s College 1st XI 2010

The Petes continued their dominance by winning by six wickets at home in 2013, despite a fine all-round performance by the Antonian skipper, Sachin Bulathsinghala (94* and 6/53 in the first innings). SW Fernando (82) and Sahan Nanayakkara (5/23) performed well for the Petes. (SACK 187 and 146; SPC 206 and 128/4)

When the Antonians travelled back to Colombo two years later, they were humbled by seven wickets helped by outstanding roles from Lakshina Rodrigo (93) and Ashan Malka (5/37). (SACK 155 and 166; SPC 283/7 and 40/3)

In 2017, the Petes failed to make it three wins in a row at home when the Antonian last pair held on for a draw. Fine spell of bowling by Mohamed Ameen (3/38 & 5/12) and Chathura Obeysekera (4/34 & 4/49) almost took the Peterites home, after the platform was set up by Vinul Gunawardena (61), Santhush Gunathilake (53) and Shalith Fernando (52). (SPC 282/6d; SACK 141 and 98/9)

But the Peterites made amends in 2018 with a close 54-run victory at Katugastota.  A match bag of 10/148 by Nimnaka Jayathilaka couldn’t prevent the visitors from taking the honours. Nimnaka’s performance was matched by a splendid 10-wicket haul by Mohamed Ameen (5/47 and 5/76). (SPC 169 and 184; SACK 137 and 162)

An outstanding opening stand of 181 by Antonian openers Chamidu Wickremasinghe (82) and Lasith Werallagama (96) spearheaded the Antonian total of 385 in the 2020 encounter at Katugastota which ended in a draw. Kanishka Maduwantha (6/129) bowled best for the Petes. (SACK 385; SPC 191 and 149/5)

St. Anthony’s College 1st XI 2023 -taken during the match against St.Benedict’s College

The 2021 clash at Bambalapitiya was reduced to a 50-over game, with the home side winning in a thriller by just 2 runs. (SPC 216/8 in 50 overs; SACK 214 in 50 overs). After missing the 2022, both teams featured in an exciting draw in 2023 at Katugastota.

St. Peter’s College 1st XI 2023 -taken during the match against Thurstan College

The last Antonian victory was registered in 1976 under Bernard Perera and the question is can Thisara Ekanayake’s team break the drought after 48 years? They have the team do it but the task will not be easy as St Peter’s are a much-improved side this year.

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