141st Battle of the Blues – Family Records


The Royal – Thomian, a tradition worth 141 years has earned a special place in many families. Since its inception in 1879, it has been a tradition for certain families to take part in the event while passing on the pride to the next generation. For these families, the ‘Royal – Thomian’ has been deep rooted, becoming a household affair.

For Royal College

There are more than 30 instances of both father and son playing for Royal with the latest being Ronuka Jayawardana son of Rochana Jayawardana, a well-known name in Royal-Thomian folklore for almost single handedly taking them to victory in 1983.

However, there have been only two occasions where both father and the son captained Royal and that distinction goes to Churchill Hector Gunasekara (1912) / Channa Gunasekara (1949) and D.W.L Lieversz (Snr.)(1926) / D.W.L Lieversz (Jnr.) (1962).

H.C. Dharmaratne (1925-26) and B.N. Dharmaratne (1951) both were wicketkeepers for Royal.

Other famous names include G. Heyn and Bertram Heyn. The famous Ceylonese Cricketer Bertram Heyn was known for taking Don Bradman’s wicket in his last visit to Ceylon during the All Ceylon vs Australia unofficial Test match at Colombo in 1948. He later served as the commander of the Ceylon Army from 1966 to 1967.

Hardly anyone can forget Sumithra Warnakulasuriya’s marathon 197 in 1980 which is also the series record for the highest individual score. His son, D. Warnakulasuriya represented Royal in 2007.

F.J. de Saram’s (Snr.) four sons F.C, F.R, M.F, and F.J (Jnr) also played for Royal in the 1930’s. Many regard F.C. de Saram as one of the finest Ceylonese cricketers of all time. He captained the Ceylon team from 1949 to 1954. F.C. de Saram guided the Royalists from 1968 to 1974 and later coached the Thomians at the centenary encounter in 1979.

There are few rare instances where brothers have captained the teams at the Royal – Thomian. Churchill Gunasekara’s brother E.I. Gunasekara captained in 1906 while F.C. de Saram’s captaincy in 1931 was followed by the captaincy of his brother F.R. de Saram in 1932. T. Nirmalingam, brother of the 1948 captain T. Parathalingam, led the team in 1954. Ajitha Pasqual’s brother Sudath Pasqual played in the 1979 centenary encounter for Royal. In the same year he was selected to represent the national side at the World Cup, thus becoming the youngest ever to play in an ODI for Sri Lanka. Later in 1980 he led the Royalists at the big match. Ajitha Pasqual captained in 1973.

Brothers, Anura de Alwis (1975) and Nalin de Alwis (1980) both represented Royal as wicketkeepers.

The encounter has witnessed over 50 instances where brothers of the same family took pride in wearing the Blue & Gold Blazer. Among them are D.W.L. Lieversz (Snr.) and his brother E.G.L. Lieversz who played between 1925 and 1927. E.G.L. Lieversz’s son E.C.L. Lieversz led the winning team in 1969.

Dai Pathmanathan’s brother, late Gajan Pathmanathan played for college between 1971 and 1972. Later he represented both the Oxford and Cambridge Cricket teams, which is a unique, extraordinary feat. Dai Pathmanathan’s son, Devind led the Royalists to victory in 2013.

C.E. Corea’s grandson N.D.P. Hettiaratchy played in 1969 and 1970, a rare occasion where the grandfather and the grandson both played for Royal. C.E. Corea, who played from 1882 to 1885 was involved in the infamous 9-run match.

The Gunasekara family holds the rare distinction of a ‘family hat-trick’ for Royal. D.B Gunasekara’s (Snr.) (1900-1901) sons D.B Gunasekara (Jnr.), A.L Gunasekara, V.J.H. Gunasekara, H.T. Gunasekara, E.C. Gunasekara, and V.K. Gunasekara, all represented Royal. D.B Gunasekara’s (Jnr) son A.R Gunasekara represented Royal from 1966 to 1968 while A.L Gunasekara’s son L.D Gunasekara took the field in 1975. Three of D.B. Gunasekara’s (Snr.) sons, D.B. Gunasekara (Jnr.) (1929-30), A.L. Gunasekara (1931-32), and E.C. Gunasekara (1942) were part of winning teams, becoming the first father-son pairs who were members of winning teams.  

For S. Thomas’ College

Turning to the Thomian camp, Premalal Goonesekara (1964) and Suresh Goonesekara (1992) hold the distinction of being the only father-son combination of captaining S. Thomas’ at the Royal-Thomian.

P.B. Bulankulame (1919-20), Patchy Bulankulame (1956) and Suresh Bulankulame (1988-90) achieved the rare feat of three generations of opening bat-wicketkeepers for the Thomians. Patchy Bulankulame also had two other sons, Dhammika and Anura Bulankulame who represented the Thomians in the 1980’s.

Ronald de Alwis who played in the 1946 encounter as the Thomian wicketkeeper had two sons who were also the stumpers for the side, Guy de Alwis (1976-77) and Ken de Alwis (1978-81).

Michael Tissera played for S. Thomas’ from 1954 to 1958 and was the captain in 1957 and 1958. His sons Graeme Tissera (1983-84) and Dirk Tissera (1990-92) too gained the opportunity to wear the Blue and Black Blazer.

Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu (1910-12) and his sons C.S Saravanamuttu (1944-45) and B.S Saravanamuttu (1941) all played for S. Thomas’ at the highest level.

Orville Abeynaike’s son, late Ranil Abeynaike played for S. Thomas’ from 1971 to 1973, also captaining in his final year. Orville Abeynaike represented college in 1941.

The first prime minister of independent Sri Lanka Hon. D.S. Senanayake played in the Royal-Thomian in 1901 and 1902 while his sons Dudley Senanayake (1927-29) and Robert Senanayake (1928-32) too had the honour of representing S. Thomas’.

Former Test captain Duleep Mendis, who also led Sri Lanka to their first test victory in 1985, captained the Thomians in 1972. During his career from 1970 to 1972, he scored two centuries including the record score for a two-day Royal-Thomian encounter: 184 in 1972. Twenty years later, his nephew Manoj Mendis (1991-94) scored two consecutive centuries (in 1992 and 1993) sealing the only occurrence where two relatives scored consecutive centuries. Manoj Mendis also captained in 1994. Duleep Mendis’s son Sanjeev Mendis (2003-05) was Vice-captain of the S. Thomas’ side in 2005.

There are two instances of brothers captaining S. Thomas’ at the Royal-Thomian. Paikiasothy, Manicasothy and Saptaranajyoti Saravanamuttu captained the Thomian camp in 1914 and 1918 respectively. Sasi Ganeshan, the Thomian skipper in 1976 was followed by the captaincy of his brother Ajith Ganeshan in 1977. Ajith Ganeshan acted as deputy in 1976.

Dhammika Bulankulame (in 1984) and his brother Anura Bulankulame (in 1987) hold the distinction for scoring centuries at the big match. Anura Bulankulame also led the Thomians to victory after 24 years in 1988.

The Thomians hold six ‘family hat-tricks’ at the Royal-Thomian. J.S. De Saram’s (1879) two sons J.G. De Saram (1911-1913) and the late Warden Cannon De Saram (1915-1917) and grandson M. De Saram (1945) all had the privilege of representing S. Thomas’.

Ashmore Peiris (1923) along with his son Mevan Peiris (1964-65) and grandson Nilanka Peiris (1994-95) took part in this historic battle too. A.H. Molamure’s (1907) son A.F. Molamure (1940-41) played for the Thomian side while his grandson F. Molamure (1981-82) did so too.

E.A. Elapata (1886-89), the captain in 1888 and 1889 had a son Sam Elapata who represented S. Thomas’ from 1915 to 1917. E.A. Elapata’s three grandsons S. Elapata (1941-44), E. Elapata (1945) and Upali Katugaha (1945-47) too played for college.

W.B. De Saram’s (captain of the Thomian sides in 1884 and 1885) son C.F.W. De Saram (1923) and grandson W. Jayatileke (1935-37) all represented college.

P.B. Bulankulame (1917-1920)’s son P.B. Bulankulame (Jnr) (1954-56) and three grandsons Dhammika, Anura and Suresh all had the opportunity to play at the Royal-Thomian.

An instance of 4th generation representative is very rare and the distinction goes to Arthur Bulner (1892) and his grandsons P.I. Pieris, David Pieris (1950-54) while his great grandsons Johan Pieris (son of David Pieris) and Ranil Pieris (son of P.I. Pieris) also played for college from 1979 to 1983.

Representing both Schools

Few families carry the rare distinction of representing both schools, resonating the strong bond between the two institutions.

P.B. Bulankulame’s brother L.B. Bulankulame captained Royal in 1910 while P.B. Bulankulame led the Thomians in 1919 and 1920.  P.N.S. Kariyawasam’s brother P.L.D. Kariyawasam led the Thomian side in 1969 and 1970. P.N.S. Kariyawasam was the Royal skipper in 1975. The youngest of the family, P.G.S. Kariyawasam played from 1977 to 1979, and was the Vice-captain of the Royal side at the centenary encounter.

Out of the 14 occasions of father-son combinations representing the opposite schools, perhaps the most famous is the de Saram family. F.J de Saram’s (Snr.) two sons F.C de Saram (1928-31) and F.J de Saram (Jnr) (1939) represented Royal while F.C de Saram’s son D.L de Saram (1967-69) played for S. Thomas’. F.C De Saram’s grandson Malik Samarasinghe played for Royal in 1982 and 1983 while his father Maithree Samarasinghe played for S. Thomas’ in 1953 and 1954. F.J de Saram (Jnr)’s son F.J. De Saram (Jnr)(Jnr) represented S. Thomas’ in 1972 and 1973.

Royal captain of 2003, Rochana Wijeratne was the son former Thomian cricketer Sunil Wijeratne (1969-1971). He was only the second Royalist son of a former Thomian cricketer to captain the College cricket team with the first being P.C.D McCarthy (Royal captain – 1938) whose father W.G. McCarthy played for S. Thomas’ in 1897.

Without doubt, these families have carried the Royal-Thomian tradition in their blood, passing it on from a generation to another. They have established the rich history of a 141-year old heritage that has created one of the greatest rivalries in Sri Lankan cricket and a strong brotherhood between two prestigious institutions.