ST.ANTHONY’S COLLEGE KANDY vs S.THOMAS’ COLLEGE MT.LAVINIA – CAN THE ANTONIANS BREAK YET ANOTHER HOODOO

St. Anthony’s College Kandy is hosting S. Thomas’ College for their traditional 1st XI Cricket encounter at Katugastota, on the 16th & 17th of February 2024. This is also a Tier-A Tournament encounter for both schools. Here’s a look at the history of the S.Thomas’-St.Anthony’s since commenced in 1916, presented by our Antonian Cricket enthusiast and historian Afzal Laphir.

Can the Antonians break the hoodoo?

by AFZAL LAPHIR

St. Anthony’s College hosted S.Thomas’ College in 2023 too

The Thomians have traveled to Katugastota to play St Anthony’s College in a 2-day Under-19 tournament game starting today, weather permitting.

The Antonians have been without a win against Mount Lavinia Thomians in a 2-day game for 94 years, since 1930, and this year looms as their best chance since the encounter was reinstated in 2007. The boys from Kandy have recently shown a knack for breaking hoodoos, and if they can defeat the Thomians, it will be their most significant triumph yet, surpassing the 74-year hoodoo broken against Ananda last year.

The Thomians, on the other hand, have had recent success by winning in consecutive years in 2015 and 2016.

EARLY ENCOUNTERS

The first two-day game between the two schools was played on 9th and 10th March 1916 in Colombo, with the Antonians emerging as winners by 5 wickets. After conceding a 16-run first-innings lead, Antonians romped home to victory thanks to a brilliant all-round performance by Jack Anderson, scoring 24 & 66 with the bat and capturing 4/30 and 5/40 with the ball. J. Cater with 5/26 and 3/20 also bowled well in tandem with Anderson. (STC 110 & 124, SACK 94 & 142/5). Antonians registered their second consecutive win at Bogambara in the following year.

The 1918 encounter ended in a tame draw but not before skipper Jack Anderson made history with his monumental innings of 291. This was the highest individual innings in all cricket at the time, not just school games, and much has been written about this knock in previous articles.

Legendary Jack Anderson, in 1917 (St. Anthony’s College Archives)

At the end of the first day, Anderson remained undefeated on 286 runs. Legend has it that his innings might have ended at 205 if his request to declare the innings at 5:00 PM had been granted. However, the Thomian captain opposed the closure, citing the rule stipulating that a declaration must be made at least an hour and 40 minutes before the end of play. In the ensuing hour, Anderson amassed 81 additional runs as the Antonians batted through the remainder of the day. The following morning, approximately 10 minutes into play, Anderson was eventually dismissed for 291 and the Antonians’ innings subsequently ended at 431. In reply, The Thomians were dismissed for 217 and following on, the home side put up a good fight with S Saravanamuttu scoring an unbeaten 121. (SACK 431, STC 217 & 177/1)

In 1920, on the Joes grounds at Darley Road, the two teams played out an enthralling draw. The Thomians, who dominated much of the game, set the visitors a ‘sporting’ target of 171 runs and when stumps were drawn, the game was tantalizingly poised with the Antonians requiring a further 31 runs with only three wickets in hand. Whilst an injured LV Jayaweera (44n.o and 17n.o) and George Herman (59) propped up the Antonian batting, Seneviratne took the limelight with a 10-wicket bag (7/58 & 3/46) for the hosts. (STC 226 & 89/5; SACK 145 & 140/7). The Thomians had their maiden success in 1921 at Bogambara, and in 1922, the game ended in a tame draw at Darley Road.

The Thomians tasted their second success in 1927 at Bogambara when the games re-commenced after a lapse of four years. Brilliant bowling by Austin, O Herman and Selvadurai helped skittle the home side for 66 and 84 in the two innings. (STC 139 & 12/0; SACK 66 & 84). The Mount Lavinia boys went on to win the overall schools championship thus earning the status as the best team in school cricket in 1927.

The highlight of the drawn game in 1928 was the hattrick taken by Antonian all-rounder V Henley, who dismissed Nicol, Silva and Sivasambo in three consecutive balls. The Antonians were saved by the rain when the Thomians visited Bogambara in 1929. Following on, after being shot out for 45 with Gauder (5/18) doing most of the damage, the hosts were 3/13 when the heavens opened up.

The Antonians under DH Weerasinghe travelled down to Mount Lavinia during the third term of the 1930 season to pull off an impressive 5-wicket win which remains the last win by the Antonians in this series. A fine partnership between Harry Jayasundera (63) and Theodore de Silva (68 n.o) helped the visitors total 196, and the same pair turned their attention to bowling, with 4/24 and 3/13 respectively, to run through the Thomian batting for 81. Following on, the hosts did slightly better to avert an innings defeat. Peter Fernando (5/38) did the damage this time around. (SACK 196 & 41/5, STC 81 & 155).

In the subsequent year (1931), despite a dominant display by the Antonians, ‘time’ ultimately determined the outcome when the Thomians found themselves struggling at 32/6, attempting to chase down 137 in just 60 minutes. The collective effort of J Mack, Harry Jayasundera, and captain Peter Fernando in their all-round bowling performance was pivotal in securing their team’s dominance. (SACK 139 & 112/8d, STC 114 & 32/6).

BARREN PERIOD

Between 1931 and 2007, the two sides played only four games on record, which were sporadic in 1944, 1954, 1957, and 1971.

In 1944, the Thomians were too good for the Antonians, triumphing by an innings and 79 runs at Katugastota, thanks to an unbeaten century by R.Scanlon (110 n.o) and an 8-wicket haul (4/35 & 4/22) by Samaraweera. (STC 308/7d, SACK 115 & 113)

The 1954 encounter at Mount Lavinia was played in the third term of 1953, and despite the absence of Tom Deen, the Antonians dominated the game to take the honours. Berenger and Abdeen, with three wickets apiece, restricted the Thomains to 140. A half-century from skipper ACM Lafir (50) led the strong batting performance and helped the visitors take an 86-run lead. A five-wicket haul by Guy Fernando (5/44) couldn’t stop the Thomians from batting out to draw the game. (STC 140 & 196/8, SACK 226)

In 1957, the Antonians suffered a 10-wicket defeat in Mount Lavinia, which was their only loss for the season. Without the services of skipper Ranjith Dorenagama, the Antonian batting failed miserably in the second innings to be bundled out for 48, handing an easy win for the Thomians. Ronald Reid bagged 7 for 9 in 9 overs with only SW Seneviratne entering double figures. Michael Tissera scored a sound half-century and Abeysekera a breezy 67 for the home side in their first innings total of 174. The Antonians were further hampered when Ranjith Samarasekera had to leave the field due to illness soon after taking two quick wickets to have the Thomians at 31/4 before they managed to recover through the efforts of Tissera and Abeysekera. (SACK 131 & 48, STC 174 & 6/0)

The Thomian encounter was reinstated in 1970, after an absence of 13 years, and was destined to kick start the newly laid turf strip but to everyone’s disappointment only one over was possible due to inclement weather. This solitary over was bowled by Gamini Debahapuwa to Ravi Sathasivam and as skipper Meri Guneratne recalled “the newly laid turf wicket was very susceptible to rain as the clay hadn’t stabilised adequately at the start of the year.”

In the following year, in 1971, the two teams played out a thrilling draw at Mount Lavinia, which happened to be the only two-day game between the sides for nearly four decades until 2007. In response to the Thomian total of 202/9 declared, the visitors were struggling at 69/6 before rallying to a total of 171. After a second declaration by the home side, the Antonians were left with a target of 200 runs in 160 minutes. Although there was a promising half-century opening stand between Mahesh Gunathileka and Merryl Dunuwille, the Antonians found themselves losing wickets at regular intervals. Consequently, it became a test of survival, with the tail-enders having to hold on to secure a draw.

The lack of fixtures between the two teams since 1971 has been attributed by some to an unpleasant incident that occurred during the quarter-finals of the first-ever school’s 50-over tournament (Milo Trophy) at the NCC grounds in 1973. A few questionable umpiring decisions against the Antonians led their Prefect of Games, Fr Aelred Samarakoon, to intervene, halt play, and ultimately concede the match.

THE RESURGENCE

After a 36-year hiatus, the two-day cricket match was reintroduced in October 2006 (2007 season). Since then, nine such matches have been played up until last year. In addition to these, there was also a three-day practice match and a few one-day matches during the same period.

Actions from SACK Vs STC at Katugastota 2023

The Antoninas had the better of the exchanges in the ‘re-launch’ game, which ended in a draw at Mount Lavinia.

The 2009 encounter at Katugastota ended in a draw, but the Antonians managed to get a comfortable first innings lead. Half-centuries from Hiran Wickremasekera (51) and Adil Reyal (50) laid the foundation for the home side’s first innings total. Despite a solid innings of 51 by H.A.J Fernando, the Antonians earned a 66-run first innings lead through spinners Reyal (4/58) and K Ekanayake (4/35). (SACK 259/9d & 116/7, STC 193)

In 2011, at Mount Lavinia, inclement weather disrupted play for more than three hours, ultimately denying the Antonian team what seemed to be a certain victory. Aravinda Premaratne (7/42) helped his side to gain a 138-run first innings lead and when the Thomians followed on, it was KB Ranaraja’s (5/38) bowling spell that took the Antonians almost home. Skipper Hiran Wickremasekera (65) top-scored for the visitors. (SACK 261/9d, STC 123 & 157/6).

A century by Nimesha Gunasinghe (106) and a 5-wicket haul by Kavinda Muduranga (5/17) in the second innings were the highlights for the Antonians in the drawn game in 2013 at Mount Lavinia, played in the third term of 2012. Madushan Ravichandrakumar (5/92) bowled well for the hosts.

A fighting unbeaten 83-run partnership for the sixth wicket between KP Yapa Bandara and Dilan Bandara ensured a draw for the Antonians in 2014 at Katugastota. TMSA Baduge (89) was the top scorer for the Thomians.

The Thomians registered successive wins in the 2015 and 2016 seasons. The win in 2015 at Mount Lavinia was made possible by two fine bowling performances by T Ratnayake (5/40) in the first innings and Sajana Sathsara (5/50) in the second, and an innings of 80 from C Wickremasinghe. (SACK 169 & 116, STC 207/7d & 79/3)

In 2019, the two teams played a 3-day practice game at the SSC grounds in Colombo at the invitation of the Thomians, in preparation for their traditional big match against Royal College. This game went the distance before the Antonians succumbed to a 61-run defeat. At one stage, shortly after tea on the third and final day, the Kandy boys were sitting pretty at 158 for 4 chasing 247 to win before national cap Kalana Perera snapped up three quick wickets to trigger a collapse that saw the last six wickets fall for just 17 runs.

In recent years, the only successes for the Antonians against S Thomas have come in the form of one-day games, when Chamidu Wickremasinghe played dominant roles in each of the two wins. At Mount Lavinia in 2022, Chamidu took 4/14 and then scored an unbeaten 69 in 43 balls to crush the host by 7 wickets with 32 overs to spare. A year earlier at Katugastota, Chamidu smashed 112 in 61 balls to help his side reach the target of 203 in the 27th over. He also captured 2/33 with the ball.

Can the current team derive inspiration from Chamidu’s one-day heroics and bring home an outright win after 94 years?

 

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