The Battle of the Blues; the 138th Royal-Thomian cricket encounter, also known as ‘The’ Big Match will be played on the 9th, 10th and 11th March 2017, at the SSC grounds.
The Battle of the Blues is known for not just being the oldest cricket encounter in the island, but for also being the longest, uninterrupted cricket series in the world. Days ahead of the 138th Battle of the Blues, ThePapare.com caught up with the Thomian camp to get an insight on their preparations for the big match.
S.Thomas’ College suffered a shocking defeat in 2016 when the Royal spirit over-powered the Thomian Grit. With it being 9 years since the Thomians won the D.S Senanayake shield back in 2007, Romesh Nallaperuma and his team will have all eyes on bringing the shield back to Mount Lavinia.
S.Thomas’ College will go into the Royal-Thomian with good statistics, recording a total 12 wins, 5 of them being outright victories. They recorded an outright win in the traditional encounter against Trinity College Kandy, the final test before the big match.
This year’s Thomian outfit will be led by Romesh Nallaperuma fondly known as ‘Nalla’. Nallaperuma is a first year coloursman, and has been with the bat and ball since a very young age. He is known for his aggressive batting, but has the temperament to stay at the wicket when the need arises. Nallaperuma has been in good touch, scoring over 650 runs in the season. He also bowls right arm off-spin and has got 15 wickets. Speaking to ThePapare.com, Nallaperuma added, “We have a relatively young side but they have performed as expected. We aim at bringing the shield back to Mount Lavinia”.
Second in command is Ravindu Kodithuwakku, the 3rd year coloursman. Ravindu is a reliable opening batsman and is also the highest run scorer for S. Thomas’ with 800+ runs. He is also a right arm off spinner and has taken a total of 26 wickets. Kodithuwakku will be playing his fourth Big Match and is the most experienced campaigner for the Thomians.
The secretary of the team is Delon Peiris, son of the famous rugby referee, Dinka Peiris. Peiris is a first year coloursman, who played his first big match in 2016. Despite being relatively young in age, he will provide vital past experience for the young Thomian outfit. The left arm leg spinner has been among the statistics with more than 65 wickets and has also chipped in with 300 runs. Peiris will be expected to perform with both, the bat and the ball at the upcoming Royal-Thomian.
The top performer with the ball, the left arm leg spinner Pavith Ratnayake is on-road to achieving his own milestone of reaching 100 wickets in the season. His current tally is 96. All eyes will be on Ratnayake as the bowling department of Mount Lavinia will depend on him.
Keeping wickets for S.Thomas’ will be Sithara Hapuhinna, the saviour of the Mustangs Trophy (limited overs) encounter. Hapuhinna, the aggressive left hand batsman has scored 300 runs in the season.
The opening bowling-duo for S.Thomas’, Dinura Gunawardena and Kalana Perera will play a major role. Gunawardena and Perera, and their right arm-left arm combo have got 20+ wickets and will be expected to get the early breakthroughs for the Thomians. Gunawardena will also open the innings with the bat for the Thomians.
The batting end for S.Thomas’ comprises Manthila Wijeratne (700 runs), Dulith Guneratne (450 runs), Ishane Perera and Thevin Eriyagama (120 runs).
Duties of Head Coach will be under the belt of Dinesh Kumarasinghe, a long-time Thomian coach. “This is the youngest team S.Thomas’ has produced since 1983, but as a team, they have performed very well”, he added.
S.Thomas’ have also hired the expertise of the world cup winning coach, Mr. Dave Whatmore which will be a major boost when it comes to the Royal-Thomian. In talks with ThePapare.com, he added “This team has the ability to rise to any challenge thrown their way and that is something special I have seen in them”
Despite being a young side, the Thomians have a well-balanced playing 11 and will be expected to perform at the fullest in the upcoming three days of the 138th Battle of the Blues.
Good luck to Romesh Nallaperuma and the team!