That ‘1952’ School Cricket Season

Runs flowed in ’52
Josephians had well-oiled batting machine


Played seven matches; won five; lost two….

The scorecard of St Joseph’s College cricket team of 1952 provides a classic example of the standard of school cricket in the bygone era. Results-wise
it is not impressive. Nevertheless, it echoes something extraordinary. And it shows the attitude, approach and determination of schoolboy cricketers towards the game five or six decades back.

Recounting the 1952 cricket season St’ Joseph’s College annual remarked:

“It was a season marked by the setting up of many new records for the school;
e.g. the aggregate of runs made by the team exceeded 2590; there were three innings over 400, two over 300 and two over 200 runs. “All these mammoth scores were not recorded by stodgy play but by bright cricket. We won five matches by an innings, and even though we lost two by the margin of six wickets, we can feel
consoled by the fact that we did not take part in any ‘tame draws’.”

The college annual further added:

“The season was one in which the team reached supreme heights of excellence and as quickly fell down to the depths.”

The school cricket scenario was different at the time. Matches were played over two afternoons – mostly Friday and Saturday, commencing from noon sometimes 1.30 or 2pm on the first day and 9.30am on Saturday) to 6 pm, with stoppages for the milk interval and tea. Although the hours of play hours were less compared with present-day school cricket – and also the fixture list confined only to seven or eight traditional matches – it provided quality entertaining cricket; fierce competitiveness; record totals; challenging declarations and memorable results. And whatever the outcome, they fought courageously.
Drawn games were few and far between. Led by Kenneth Serpanchy, with Rienzie Perera as deputy, the Josephian cricket team of 1952 was coached by Malcolm Spittel, one of the finest cricketers the Darley Rd school has produced. They began their season rather late – the first weekend of February with the match against Wesley College instead of the customary clash with St Benedict’s.

“Batting first on the Darley Rd matting wicket, the Wesleyites were all out for 254 (M. A. M. Fuard 59, L. Adihetty 48 n.o., Ken Serpanchy 5 for 51). The Josephians began disastrously, losing five wickets for a paltry eight runs, Wesley skipper R. Claessen and young Samsudeen producing a deadly spell of  bowling. Being 20 for 5 at the end of first day’s play the home team was shot out for 53 the following day.
The Josephian batsmen failed miserably against the medium-pace bowling of 14-year-old M.N. Samsudeen (5 for 10) who opened the attack with Claessen. St Joseph’s fared better in the second innings, but their total of 236 (Ken Serpanchy 62, Wilson Wimalaratne 38, Maurice Wanigaratne 42) failed to stave off defeat. The Wesleyites thereafter stroked the required runs to win by six wickets (37 for 4; K. Serpanchy 2 for 7), just 15 minutes before the end.”

The second match of the 1952 season was against St Benedict’s College, at Kotahena.

The team list read:

St.Benedict’s: M. de Silva (captain), F. Simmons, H. Jayasekera, M. Paul, C. Amaratunga, T. Ratnayake, J. Karunaratne, B. de Silva, H. Perera, L. Rajaratnam and W. Gunadasa.
St.Joseph’s: Ken Serpanchy (captain), Wilson Wimalaratne, Maurice Wanigaratne, Lester Caspersz, Rienzie Perera, Chrysantha Fernando, Thalath Ismail, Mahinda de Silva, Milroy Brohier, Roy Perera and Shirley Rangalla.

“Batting first SJC amassed 358 in 260 minutes (M. Wanigaratne 95, K. Serpanchy 63, Roy Perera 50, W. Wimalaratne 43, M. Brohier 49, M. Paul 3 for 79, H. Jayasekera 3 for 60). At the close the Benedictine scoreboard read: 19 runs, 7 wickets. Fall of  wickets: 0, 4, 10, 10, 10, 10 and 17. On the second day the Benedictines were shot out for 37 (K. Serpanchyfor 12, Chrys Fernando 3 for 4) and 76 (K. Serpanchy 4 for 29) which left the Josephians with a massive victory by an innings and 245 run victory.”

During the following weekend the Josephians hosted their first-ever cricketing opponent Royal College.

“Royal 74 (K. Serpanchy 5 for 18, Roy Perera 3 for 21) and 79 (G. Seneviratne 20, M. Brohier 3 for 8 in 7 overs, K. Serpanchy 3 for 20). St. Joseph’s 467 for 9 dec. (Milroy
Brohier 174 – in just over two hours, Roy Perera 92, M. Wanigaratne 50 and Rienzie Perera 65). 

St. Joseph’s emerged victorious by an innings and 314 runs.”

The Josephian annual reported: “With two wins by an innings behind us, we went on to play St. Thomas’ College at Mt. Lavinia”. It was a thriller. At the end, the Thomians had to score 150 runs in about 140 minutes of playing time remaining, and they secured a thrilling victory in the last ball of the match.

“St. Joseph’s 221 (K. Serpanchy 79, W. Wimalaratne 65) and 89 (M. Wanigaratne 37, Roy Perera 17, M. Brohier 15, G. Geddes 4 for 17) lost to St. Thomas’ 161 (K. Serpanchy 4 for 48) and 150 for 4 (D. D. Keerthiratne 62 n.o., P.I. Peiris 42) by 6 wickets.”



“The Darley Rd grounds was set alight by the Josephian batsmen in their match against St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota, when they amassed 100 runs in just one hour, 150 in 90 minutes and 200 in just two hours. Finally, they recorded a huge total of 452 runs in 250 minutes. (SJC 452. W. Wimalaratne 92, Ken Serpanchy 75, Milroy Brohier 55, Roy Perera 66, Chrysantha Fernando 75,
Ralph Bolling 43 not out).

St. Anthony’s lost their reliable opener A.C.M. Lafir in the first ball of the second over. Thereafter, Ronnie Stephens and T. M. Deen carried the innings up to 70 and remained unbeaten at the end of day one. As the Antonians were restricted for 143 (R. Stephens 48, T.M. Deen 35, K. Serpanchy 3 for 59, C. Fernando 3 for 12) and 219 (A.C.M. Lafir 99, B. Weerakoon 53, M. Brohier 4 for 69), St Joseph’s won the match by an innings and 90 runs.”

The Trinity–St Joseph’s match in 1952, played at Asgiriya is long remembered for the mammoth total of 484 for 9 recorded by the Josephians in the first afternoon of the match. Skipper Serpanchy scored 145 and his deputy Rienzie Perera stroked 170. On the following day Trinity were bundled out for scores of 81 and 81. According to the Blue and White magazine,

“Trinity thus suffered the biggest defeat in its history, by and innings and 322 runs. In defeating Trinity College, we stablished a record total for the season – 484 – beating the previous best score of 467, also by us.” Then came the all-important

Josephian–Peterite match, being the 18th encounter in the Battle of the
Saints series. Respected cricket historian Harold de Andrado reviewing the match years later noted:

“In 1952, St Peter’s and St Joseph’s had two of the strongest college teams of the year and were led by two of the leading Nondescript cricketers H.I.K. Fernando and Ken Serpanchy who had both done well in Saravanamuttu Trophy cricket. Among the members of both teams were names that were to adorn first-class cricket in Ceylon in the next ten years. The stage was set for a grand game. St Peter’s had a splendid unbeaten record, trouncing the powerful Thomians by an innings and having the better of most of their other games.” 

St. Joseph’s won the toss and took first lease of the Nondescripts CC turf. Josephian openers W. Wimalaratne (105) and M. Wanigaratne (97) established a new series record for the first wicket of 197 runs, followed by Ken Serpanchy 67, Rienzie Perera 2, Roy Perera 28, Milroy Brohier 36, Chrys Fernando 8, S. Rangalla 14 n.o., R. Brohier 2, T. Ismail01 and R. Bolling 14 to extend the score to 382. Patrick Muthumani took 4 for 48. 

“The Peterite fielding was a bit ragged in the face of the terrific onslaught” commented de Andrado and he singles out Peterite wicketkeeper H.I.K. Fernando as “even at that time proved to be Ceylon’s No. 1 stumper”.

The Peterites ended the first day with 24 for no loss. But on the next day, Josephian leg-spinner Milroy Brohier (5 for 21) ran through the Peterite
batting line-up comfortably to rout the opponents for just 96 runs. M. Pereira
10, P. Muthumani 20, H.I.K. Fernando 19, Denzil Abeysekera 5, Clive Inman 9, H. Ranasinghe 3, T. Wijesinghe 0, H. Wittachy 4, H.A. Fernando 5, W. Hoffman 6 and Maurice Salgadoe 2. In the second innings St Peter’s fared even worse. Only Denzil Abeysekera (22) and W. Hoffman (18) were able to reach double figures in a total of just 70 runs. 

“Thus St. Joseph’s had won the 18th encounter, St. Peter’s suffering their greatest defeat in the series, by an innings and 216 runs. This match marked the end of the season, and it ended on a very sad note. The Prime
Minister, Mr D.S. Senanayake died on Saturday morning (second day of the match) and as a mark of respect to him the prize distribution at the end of the
match was postponed,” 

remarked the Blue and White magazine.

“In most quarters, we were held to be champions, and this was justified by the fact that no school was unbeaten, while we had won the greatest percentage of matches.”

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by Afzal Laphir A narration with statistics and historical perspective put together by Cricket enthusiast, …

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