Under the guidance of Mr. Ashley Walker the sport was played in an organized manner since 1878 at Reid Avenue. He was the catalyst behind the Royal Thomian traditional encounter which was inaugurated in the year 1879.
Not only do the Royalists share a 138 year old heritage with the ‘School by the sea’, they have centenary encounters between Trinity College, Wesley College, Prince of Wales and St. Joseph’s College which unfolds a history in excess of 120 years. Noteworthy, the Royal-Wesley is acknowledged as the second oldest rivalry in the nation standing at a 124 years followed by the Royal-Trinity encounter coming in third.
Royal College have been a proud institution producing some of the island’s finest for both the All-Ceylon and Sri Lankan test cricket teams. Neil Joseph, Churchill Gunesekara, Tommy Kelaart, F.C. De Saram, Sargo Jayawickrema, Channa Gunesekara, Gamini Goonesena. B.R Heyn, Satyendra Coomaraswamy, Robert De Krester, Sudath Pasqual, Ranjan Madugalla and Ashantha De Mel are names synonymous to legendary as the likes Jehan Mubarak, Kithruwan Vithanage and Kusal Janith Perera have blossomed during the past decade.
The ‘Royal-Thomian’ is the pinnacle of the schools’ season for the Royalists come the month of March. Having won the illustrious D.S. Senanayake Shield in 2016 in an enthralling encounter, the Royalists would want to emulate their performance from the previous year.
Helitha Vithanage has led from the front for the Royalists, as he is the first among his teammates to get passed the magical 1000 figure mark. Contributing to the team as a genuine all-rounder Helitha will be expected to be at the top of his game to lead his troops to glory this time around.
Senior marksman Himesh Ramanayake is the spearhead of the Royal bowling line up. He has impressed with the bat racking up an impressive run tally in excess of 750 with a bag full of wickets. He is also ranked as a genuine fast bowling all-rounder. His bowling efforts during 137th battle set up a scintillating victory for the Reid Avenue lads and undoubtedly he is expected to lead the charge this year for the blue and gold.
Kavindu Madarsinghe is the surprise package in the Royal line up this season. The fresher has shown very little signs of nerves as he has amassed runs in excess of 900 in his break-through season. He will anchor the Royal middle order and provide much needed essence.
Ganith Sandeepa has been at the fore of the Royal bowling line up with a wicket tally of over 35. Ably supporting Himesh and his skipper Helitha, Ganith will be expected to come up with the goods in the big stage if the Royalists are to counter the Thomian batting.
Despite having a roller coaster season with the bat, last year’s hero Pasindu Sooriyabandara still remains a key component in the Royal batting set up. Having gathered a notable tally of over 650 runs, Pasindu is expected to come up trumps as they battle their old foes for bragging rights.
Suranga Wijenayake remains at the helm at Reid Avenue as he leads the young chargers with ample experience. Kanishka Botheju is Wijenayake’s deputy while Thilina Kandamby will provide his valuable expertise as the batting consultant.
Although, the Royalists have talent in abundance, this season has certainly been below par for the coveted blue and gold. Unable to register a solitary win this season, Helitha’s men may have saved for the best for the last as they take on familiar opposition. Just as much as last year, the Royalist will walk in as underdogs and that would spur Helitha and his comrades to replicate their last years’feats. Notwithstanding the picture the season has painted thus far, it is evident that the big match certainly is a different ball game. The Royalist being no strangers to this theory will prepare their arsenal and come out all guns blazing!