The Cricket Seasons of 1946 and 1947
By Algi Wijewickrema and Sujith Silva
Having featured the 1957 school cricket season in the 1st Issue of QUADRANGLE we were determined to stay with school cricket for the 2nd Issue as we will be in the height of the school cricket season at the time of publication but this time we go back even further, 10 – 11 years back to be more precise and cover 2 seasons.
Remember any of the Captains from the schools then? Well there was Mahesh Rodrigo Royal, L.C. Fernando from St. Anthony’s, L.B.De Silva from St. Benedict’s, Neil Weerasinghe from St. Joseph’s and Dion Walles from St. Peter’s. There was also Oscar Wijesinghe who captained S. Thomas’, Stanley Jayasinghe of Ananda.
Alas many of these and members of the teams they led have now gone to their eternal reward but the writer caught up with one surviving captain from that era, who was one of the most successful captains that St. Peter’s has produced, none other than Dion Walles.
With matches starting at 12 noon and finishing at 6.00 p.m. (with a milk break at 1.50 p.m. and tea at 3.45) you wonder how results came about, but that was because matches were played to be won rather than drab draws with 1st Innings points earned. Consequently bold declarations were common place and even if you lost the match the Coach, the Prefect of Games, the Master in Charge or the Principal did not make you feel as if you had committed the worse crime on earth. No they encouraged the result oriented game to be played and like how it is said to be, when the great scorer comes, it was not whether you won or lost but how you played the game that mattered.
That is how Dion remembers cricket from that era and what grand seasons he had. Dion, you could say was not only an exceptionally gifted cricketer but also a versatile sportsman having represented St. Peter’s in Athletics, Rugby and Tennis and he also adds that he would have been a coloursman in Badminton also had that sport been played at St. Peter’s then.
Well back to cricket in 1946 and 47 and the good thing with Dion is that he had preserved the press clippings from that era which helped the writer no end.
The 1946 school cricket season had only 7 matches as a maximum and for some it had been even less. The season is of special significance to the Peterites as this was the 1st time they beat the “Big Match” rivals, the Josephians.
The Royal – Peterite match was a one inning affair which the Peterites won scoring 144 overhauling the meager Royalist total of 140 with Dion Walles contributing with bat and ball, scoring 37 and capturing 3 for 36.
When Nalanda faced St. Peter’s they were thrashed by innings and 178 runs. Having scored 263 runs in their 1st inning with contributions from Neville de Silva scoring 72 and Dion Walles himself 45 the Peterites bowled out the Nalandians twice for 43 and 45. The wreckers were Shelly Wickemasinghe (4 for 8) and Michael Chanmugam (3 for 8) in the 1st innings and Maurice Perera (5 for 6) and Dion Walles (3 for 6).
The Thomian – Peterite match was the inaugural match between these two schools who have rich cricketing traditions but the Peterites proved too much for the Thomians during that first year. Batting first Thomians managed to score only 132 and Neville de Silva was again amongst the wickets grabbing 4 for 13 and the Peterites in their turn scored 237 with Dion Walles contributing 85. The Thomians were bowled out for a meager 73 handing the Peterites an innings victory. Maurice Perera bowled best for the Petes with fine figures of 4 for 6.
The Peterites continued to dominate the school cricketing season beating St. Anthony’s in Kandy. Having dismissed the Antonians for a paltry 80 with Dion Walles capturing 4 for 18, the Peterites scored 202 with a contribution of 50 n.o. from Neville de Silva. The Antonians fared better in the 2nd innings scoring 138 averting an innings defeat though beaten by 9 wickets.
Another school with great cricketing traditions is St. Benedict’s College against whom the Peterites had their next match, after 4 wins from 4 matches. The Bens living up to their reputation for the gutsy cricket they play, managed to bring the high riding Peteries down to earth and halting their winning march. At the end of the 1st innings the scores were tied with 126 apiece. The second innings saw the Peterites scoring 185 for 9 and the Bens chasing 185 in 150 minutes almost succumbed but got away with a draw when the match ended with Bens 9 wickets down with 135 on the board.
The “Big Match” for any school boy cricketer is special and it was no different for the Peterites and the Josephians. The Josephians having won five of the previous encounters and drawn six had never been beaten at the Big Match before. Peterites were desperate to record their 1st victory and they were well on course during the year 1946, under the captaincy of Dion Walles.
The first lease of the wicket was taken by the Peterites who amassed 269 with Bernard Wijetunga (Snr.) scoring a fine 65 and Oswald Martinus 63. The Joes were all out for 109 with Dion capturing 5 for 36 and Michael Chanmugam grabbing 4 for 22. Following on the Joes fared better scoring 212 averting an innings defeat, thanks mainly to contributions from 50 by N Perera, 43 by Joe de Mel and a captain’s knock of 31 by Neil Weerasinghe. Dion grabbed 6 for 74 (a match bag of 11 wickets for 110). The Petes knocked off the required runs and won their Big Match for the first time. This feat they were to repeat the next season which was an even more successful season.
The last match of the season was against Zahira and the Petes did not enjoy this game to say the least, in fact they were lucky to escape with a draw. Dion, the successful captain attributes this success to two factors. One he said was the coach they had, Maj. B R Heyn and the second being the high number of all rounders in the team.
The press hailed the Peterites as the Champion team of 1946 as can be seen in one of the press clippings in Dion’s scrap book.
Despite all his achievements in 1946 for Dion the 1947 season remains special as they won every single match they played.
But he recalls with a discernible glint in his eye the 1945 season with Anton Perera as the Peterite captain when he (Dion) got 33 wickets in the 1st three matches he played that season, which he believes to be a record, though there’s no way to verify this.
Here’s the story of the highly successful Peterite 1947 Cricket season.
The 1947 cricket season was a unique one for the Peterites. It was one in which they simply did not allow any of their opponents a chance.
How many other schools can boast of a record of beating all opponents? That is what this champion Peterite team did in 1947. This was also a season that brought the Peterite captain, Dion Walles 100 wickets including record figures at their Big Match – 9 for 53 (a match bag of 13 for 107)
Going back to my tete-a-tete with Dion, I was made to feel stupid when I asked Dion if he never married and he asked me “do I look stupid” and laughed out loud. So I dropped the subject not wanting all the married men feel embarrassed. I inquired as to what brought him back to Sri Lanka in 2002 after a living in Scotland since 1952 where his cricket, tennis and badminton had earned him quite a reputation at the University of Edinburgh not to mention double “Edinburgh Blues” earned for cricket and badminton, but he was not sure, and said “I guess it was God calling me back where my roots were.” Though this cannot be verified, he believes that he was the first Ceylonese (as we were called then) to earn double blues at the Edinburgh University.
I then let Dion relate his own story “I was born on 20th March 1927 a day after the feast day of St. Joseph but that’s because I refused to come on the feast of St. Joseph (he laughs and continues). My father, Denzil was a Director at Rowland’s garage and my mother was Mona who looked after me and 5 siblings. My brother died in England and of my 4 sisters 1 is dead and another lives in Matale. 2 others are religious sisters. I joined St. Peter’s 1933 and left in 1948.”
“My first cricket captain was Anton Perera and Harrold de Silva at rugger and I played as the full back. I received College Colours for Cricket, Rugby and Tennis and had Badminton been a sport St. Peter’s was engaged in, I would have got Colours for that too.”
Recalling Priests, teachers (with their nick names) and classmates of his era Dion mentioned Frs. Nicholas Perera (Rector), Basil Wiratunga (Rector) and Ales Ranasinghe (Prefect of Games), teachers Foster Staves, Baptist (Polthel), Crusz (Pathol), Ambrose (Apple John) and Primson Jayasekera. He insisted that I add that as with most school boys, the nick names were used in boyish fun with no malice intended. He remembered Frs. Micheal Rodrigo and Dalston Forbes as class mates along with Anton Perera and his brother Maurice Perera, Lesley Eaphrums (father-in-law of Dav Watmore), Oswald Martinus, Darrel Weinman and Mervyn Wettasinghe. About the two who became priests, Frs. Michael Rodrigo and Dalston Forbes, he said that he knew from those days that they would become priests.
His recollection of captains of other schools was sketchy, except for the Josephian captain Neil Weerasinghe whom he regarded as a dear friend. Royal he thought was captained by Mahesh Rodrigo, STC by Oscar Wijesinghe, SBC by Casichetty and Ananda by Stanley Jayasinghe.
Dion Walles the versatile sportsman, of yesteryear spends the evening of his life in complete retirement except for meeting friends who come to see him regularly.
Inter College Cricket season commenced with S. Thomas’ (321/7 declared) beating St. Benedict’s (120 and 92) at Mt. Lavinia by innings. For Benedictines Francis Casiechitty (39) and H. Joachim (34) shone with the bat and Toussaint (87), Weerakoon (61) and S. Thambiah (40) did the bulk of the scoring for Thomians. N. Katugaha had a match bag of 7 wickets for 38 causing much damage to Benedictines. Same weekend Royalists beat St. Sebastian’s at Moratuwa.
After a bitter opening for their season St. Benedict’s took on Royal at Mount Mary. During the 1947 season, St. Benedict’s played their home matches at Mt. Mary (now Railway Grounds, Dematagoada) as their Grounds at Kotahena was not ready (after the World War II). St. Benedict’s managed to salvage a draw (188 and 95/8) after conceding first innings win to Royal (256). C. Chanmugam scored 71 runs in Royal’s 1st innings and A. Vanderkoon (4/67) and T. Shanmuganathan (4/68) were the chief wicket takers for Benedictines.
St. Peter’s to open their season with a match against Ananda College at Maradana but the game was postponed. Royal then met Wesley College at Varsity Grounds on 31st January and 1st February and Wesley (136 & 170) managed to beat Royal (114 & 144) by 48 runs.
St. Peter’s then started the season on 7th & 8th February by beating Royal by 5 wickets. Dion Walles captured 5/24 in Royal’s 1st innings and then Osmond Pieris scored 64 for Peterites in their 1st innings. Same weekend Wesley beat S. Thomas’ by 112 runs. From one win to another, Peterites beat Antonians at Frazer Avenue by 10 wickets.
Scores: St. Peter's College Vs St. Anthony's College Katugastota
St. Anthony’s College Katugastota
1st innings – 48 (Shelly Wickremasinghe 4/13, Michael Chanmugan 3/29, Dion Walles 2/3)
2nd innings – 101 (Samaradasa 50, N.M De Silva 3/19, Dion Walles 3/24)
St. Peter’s College
1st innings - 124 (Michael Chanmugan 33, Osmond Pieris 28. D. Dunuville 6/57) and 2nd innings - 27/0
Josephians (180 and 204/4) managed to record a 178 runs win over Thomians (116 and 90) at Darley Road. Clarence Fernando had an outstanding match for Joes with scores of 62 and 100 respectively in both innings. However Benedictines were finding their season getting tougher as they lost to Zahira College. Meanwhile Trinity Vs Wesley encounter ended in an exciting draw with Wesley chasing a victory target of 146 was placed 124/7 at the close of play. S.B.Pilapitiya scored well for Trinity (34 and 61) in both innings.
Ceylon Daily News 19th February 1947
On 21st and 22nd February, St. Joseph’s met Royal 1st XI and though the match ended in a draw, Josephians gained major honors. Hue Baggot scored 124 and supported by Marcus Perera 73 in
St. Joseph’s 286 in reply to Royal’s 1st innings score of 159 where L. Perera took 6/60. On their 2nd innings Royal managed to put up 176/9 at the close of play with Parthalingam scoring 69 not out.
Dion Walles and his boys were visitors at Mt.Lavinia as S. Thomas’ hosted St. Peter’s. Peterites after bowling out Thomians for 157 (S. Thambiah 45, R. Shanthikumar 30. N.De Silva 3/31) went onto score 200 for their 1st inning. Harold De Silva (55), Neville De Silva (47), Michael Chanmugan (34) and Dion Walles (23) contributed to their score. On the 2nd innings Thomians were skittle out for 118 with only S. Thambiah (48) and Shanthi Kumar (20) showing some resistance with bat. Michael Chanmugam (4/25) and Dion Walles (3/32) were the main wicket takers. Peterites had to fight their way against the time to knockdown the required 75 runs and in the process lost 8 wickets (77/8) too. Once again Harold De Silva (17) and Neville De Silva (26) lead the batting and Dharmadasa took 3/36 for Thomians in losing cause.
Benedictines met Wesleyites at Mt.Mary and Wesley recorded an easy innings and 166 run victory.
St. Benedict’s College
1st inning - 30 (Francis Casiechitty 16. D. Ramanayake 4/12 and Abeywardena 4/5)
2nd innings - 79 (P. Devy 27, T. Shanmuganathan 17. M. Jayasundera 5/28)
1st inning 275 (B. Perera 65, R. Van Twest 50. S. Fernando 5/70)
Here’s extracts from The Ceylon Daily News as reported by ‘Wanderer’ on his weekly Inter Collegiate Cricket Review (26th February 1947)
It was the turn for St. Benedict’s to host St. Peter’s at Mt.Mary. St. Benedict’s with a formidable cricketing record and has been playing Cricket for more than five decades by then was finding it a tough going after the game resumed post World War II.
In 1946 Benedictines under Peter Fernondopulle managed to feature in an exciting draw after both team were tied on 1st inning score (126). St. Peter’s were lead by Dion Walles. In 1945 Benedictine Austin Fernando scored 132 (and Francis Casiechitty 56) at Mt. Mary against Peterites and enjoyed a 23 run lead but ended up loosing the encounter as they were bundled out for 76 in the 2nd innings. In 1944, Peterites had the better of Benedictines as they recorded a 142 run victory. Come 1947, Peterites continued their winning spree as they managed to beat St. Benedict’s by innings and 82 runs at Mt. Mary.
Wanderer writes on his weekly column, Ceylon Daily News 7th March 1947
On the same weekend (28th February and 01st March), St. Anthony’s College was hosting St. Joseph’s at Katugastota. Josephians under Niel Weerasinghe recorded an easy 8 wickets. Scores: St. Anthony's College Vs St. Joseph's College at Katugastota
St. Anthony’s College
1st inning 129 (Coooray 49, Parakrama 26, Dissanayake 26. Perera 6/65)
2nd inning 108 (V. Wanduragala 27, S. Sumanadasa 31. Norton Pereira 6/37)
St. Joseph’s College
1st inning 196 (Joe De Mel 37, Joe Abeysundera 21, Tommy Rodrigo 27, P. Karunanayake 3/24, T.K Hanan 2/31, S. Dunuville 4/79)
Trinity was hosting S. Thomas’ at Asgiriya and the match ended in a draw though Trinity (254/6 and 67/2) recorded a 1st innings win against S. Thomas’ (189 and 86/2).
St, Joseph’s hosted Trinity College at Darley Road on 7th & 8th March and game ended in a draw where Josephians took major honours. Neil Weerasinghe scored 111 and was involved in a 4th wicket partnership of 200 runs with Hue Baggot who scored 94.
Scores: St. Joseph's College Vs Trinity College at Darley Road
St. Joseph’s College
1st inning 244 (N. Weerasinghe 111, H. Baggot 94. L. Wadsworth 5/34 and M. Wanduragala 4/67)
2nd innings 117/3 (H. Baggot 71 no. C. Fernando 3/20)
1st inning 214 (F. Sirimanne 62, S.B. Pilapitiya 44. Norton Pereira 5/90)
2nd innings 59/4 at close.
Zahira College (Maradana) hosted St. Peter’s College at Nalanda College Grounds and Peterites under Dion Walles recorded their 5th consecutive win for the season. St. Peter’s were set to score 99 runs in 30 minutes in the 4th innings and they achieved this with 5 wickets down and few minutes left for the day. Dion Walles steered the Peterites to victory with quick fire 36 runs not out.
Scores: Zahira College Vs St. Peter's College
1st inning 109 ( M.B. Jayah 22. T. Buhary 50. Dion Walles 4/13)
2nd inning 113 (T. Burah 37, M.B. Jayah 29, Michael Chanmugan 4/50 and Malcolm Vanakardie 2/12)
St. Peter’s College
1st inning 124 (Hugh Fernando 45, O. Martinus 31 retired hurt. T. Buhary 4/43)
2nd inning 103/5 (Dion Walles 36 n.o, Michael Chanmugan 20)
St. Benedict’s under L.B. De Silva traveled to Katugastota to meet St. Anthony’s College who were lead by L.C. Fernando and the game ended in a draw and time deprived Anthonians of a certain victory. St. Benedict’s 169 (H. Joachim 51. Abeysinghe 6/47) and 84 (Casiechitty 25. Dunuville 6/23). St. Anthony’s 226 (Cooray 55, Dissanayake 30. Vanderkoon 6/66).
Ceylon Daily News 14th March 1947
Royal Vs St. Thomas’
Local ‘Battle of the Blues’ to open on the Oval Today
‘Struggle for Supremecy Promised with the Honours Even’
Ceylon Daily News 17th March 1947
Royal regains a long lost lead, victory by 9 wickets over St. Thomas’
St. Thomas’ 140 and 167, Royal 191 & 119
Meanwhile St. Joseph’s under Neil Weerasinghe met one of the best teams in the School Cricket arena Wesley College and managed beat them by 9 wickets and prepare themselves well in time for the Battle of the Saints. Neil Weerasinghe scored a majestic 135 not out and Joe De Mel took a match bag of 6/98.
Scores: St. Joseph's College Vs Wesley College
St. Joseph’s College
1st inning 294 (N. Weerasinghe 135n.o, N. Pereira 43. D. Vantwest 3/80)
2nd inning 32/1
1st inning 109 (W. Abeysundera 40. J. De Mel 3/15)
2nd inning 215 (P. Mendis 61n.o, C. Bartholomeusz 42. D. Vantwest 46. J.De Mel 3/18)
At the Kandy’s Battle of the Blues, Trinity managed to beat St. Anthony’s by 68 runs. L. Wadsworth with a match bag of 8/29 supported by M. Wanduragala with a match bag of 7/78 destroyed the Antonian batting line up.
Scores: Trinity College Vs St. Anthony's College
Trinity College: 1st inning 141 and 108 in 2nd inning (S.B. Pilapitiya 29, D. Dunuville 3/24)
St. Anthony’s College: 1st inning 122 (L. Pamunuwa 28, V. Wanduragala 18. M. Wanduragala 3/51 and L. Wadsworth 3/21)
Meanwhile, St. Benedict’s 1st XI season was not getting better as they were beaten by St. Sebastian’s by 75 runs at Varsity Grounds.
Scores: St. Benedict's College Vs St. Sebastian's College
St. Sebastian’s College
1st inning 113 (A. Weerasinghe 31. T. Shanmuganathan 4/41)
2nd inning 95 (N. De Silva 28n.o, T. Shanmuganathan 4/37, P. Davy 3/12)
St. Benedict’s College
1st inning 86 (H. Joachim 46n.o, R. Perera 5/38, D. Mendis 5/40)
2nd inning 47 (F. Fernando 21. R. Perera 6/17, D. Mendis 3/28)
On 21st and 22nd March, Battle of the Saints was taking place at Oval.
Joe Pete and 24th March News paper headlines
On the same weekend Nalanada (158 and 19/1) managed to beat Ananda (92 and 84) by 9 wickets in their Battle of the Maroons.
The final encounter of the season was a long standing traditional encounter between two catholic schools, St. Joseph’s under Neil Weerasinghe was hosting L.B. De Silva’s Benedictines at Darley Road on 28th and 29th March 1947. St. Benedict’s who had a nightmare season couldn’t put an end to it even at their last encounter as they were beaten by innings and 104 runs by Josephians.
Scores: St. Joseph's College Vs St. Benedict's College at Darley Road
St. Benedict’s College
1st innings 156 (F. Casiechitty 37, L.B.De Silva 39, N. Pereira5/52. J.De Mel 3/25)
2nd inning 145 (H. Joachim 47, S. Fernando 33, R. Baggot 4/12, N. Pereira 4/66)
St. Joseph’s College
405/6 (C. Fernando 108, H. Baggot 95, Neil Weerasinghe 73, N. Pereira 54)
St. Peter’s under Dion Walles ended the season as the Unbeaten Champions for 1947 as they managed to beat all their opponents. Another noteworthy performance was that of Prince of Wales as they too had a fine season though they were not playing any of the top teams. They managed to record 05 wins and their star batsman H.I Fernando scored 04 centuries (05 for the season).