By Susilough de S Wijeyeratne
The limited-over schools’ cricket tournament was started in 1970, when eight schools were invited to play in a knock-out tournament which was played in three consecutive days, as quarter-finals, semi-finals and final respectively. St Joseph’s College was first invited to this tournament in 1972 under the captaincy of Rohan Fernando and in the very first game St Joseph’s College lost to Ananda College.
The next time St Joseph’s was invited, in 1974 under Gary Melder, the team made it to the final against Royal College and the match was played at the Colombo Oval. St Joseph’s beat Royal, led by Samuel Lawton, by five wickets to win the championship.
The following year (1975) Rev Fr Lucien Dep, the Prefect of Games at St Joseph’s College thought it was the perfect time to start a Josephian-Peterite limited-over series and with the blessings of Rev Fr Quintus Fernando, Rector, St Joseph’s College together with Rev Fr Claver Perera, Rector, St Peter’s College, and the Prefect of Games Rev Fr Chrys Abeyratne started planning the inauguration of the Josephian-Peterite limited-over series. The mantle fell on St Joseph’s College to organize the game as St Peter’s hosted the big match.
The date was fixed for March 16, 1975, the venue St Joseph’s College grounds and the trophy was presented by Dr Milton Munidasa in memory of Rev Fr Peter A Pillai, the fifth Rector of St Joseph’s. Tickets were priced at Rs 1/= for the schoolboys, Rs 5/= standing around the ground, and the old pavilion of St Joseph’s College area seated at Rs 10/=. The initial plan was to play the limited-over series at the college grounds and it was done in the first three years, but due to the excitement and field invasions the match was moved to more spacious and secured places, hence the neutral grounds started after the third year.
So, the honour of starting a limited-over series with big match rivalry school went to St Joseph’s College and St Peter’s College.
St Joseph’s was led by Dushan Soza, and Bernard Wijetunge captained St Peter’s College. The Peterite skipper Wijetunge won the toss and put the Josephians in to bat, with the crowds still coming to the grounds, with the first ball of this new series was to be bowled by Peterite fast bowler Sunanda Jayasekera. What happened with the first ball was history, which can be never erased, as Josephian batsman Rohan Wijesinghe was out first ball for a duck caught at slip by S C R Fernando, now this should be a record which must carry in our souvenir as this record cannot be broken or equalled.
After the first ball wicket, St Joseph’s College recovered to 75 for 2 and later collapsed to be all out for 118 runs in 40.3 overs, Trevor Croner top scored with 33 and three other batsman Noel Warnakula 23, Dushan Soza 19 and Wayne Jansz 28 entered double figures. For the Peterites, Sunanda Jayasekera 2 for 12, Suraj Abeysekera 3 for 30 and Darrel Wijetunge 2 for 24 shared the wickets. St Joseph’s had to bowl and field well to defend this total and they did that to some extent having them at two down for 5 runs and then at 5 for 69 before an unbroken 51-run partnership for the sixth wicket between Charinde Perera and Angelo Wickremaratne helped St Peter’s reach 120 for 5 in 42.5 overs and win the match. For the Peterites, Reynold Anandappa 23, Ranjan Perera 24, Charinde Perera 28 not out and Angelo Wickremaratne 29 not out scored the runs. Trevor Croner, Ranjit Senaratne and Anura Eliyathamby took a wicket each for the Josephians. Reynold Anandappa, for his 23 runs and four catches, won the Man of the Match award. Peterite skipper Bernard Wijetunge was the first to lay his hands on the Rev Fr Peter A Pillai trophy which was presented by Rector St Joseph’s College Rev Fr Quintus Fernando. So, we enter the fifth decade of the limited-over series with lots of pride as the foremost institutions to start this shorter former of the game.
St Joseph’s College, after this loss, was invited for the schools limited-over tournament and won the championship for the second successive year, and did it for the third time (1976) the following year and was the first school to win the three consecutive years
It is unfortunate that Mr Rodrigopulle forgot to mention the 1959 cricket team captained by the most famous Benedictine cricketer Lionel Fernando who created a world record by taking all ten wickets including a hat trick and went on to score 204 not out all in the first inning and also in one day. Ironically Mr. Rodrigopulle too played in this match.