Sri Lanka’s blue-ribbon schools’ cricket encounter, the ‘Battle of the Blues’, between Royal College and S. Thomas’ College will take center stage for the 141st consecutive year when the teams battle it out for the Rt. Hon. D.S. Senanayake Memorial Shield on the 12th, 13th and 14th of March at the SSC grounds, Colombo.
The ‘Battle of the Blues’ is one of the most celebrated school-level sports encounters in Sri Lanka and has a rich and colourful history spanning 141 years.
It is also distinguished for holding the honour of being the second-longest uninterrupted cricket series played in the world, second only to the annual encounter played between St. Peter’s College, Adelaide and Prince Alfred College, Adelaide, Australia, which began just a year earlier.
The first match in 1880, in which only the boys took part, was played on the Galle Face Green, at the present location of the Taj Samudra Hotel. This was the commencement of the centenary series.
The playing fields of the ‘Royal–Thomian’ have the distinction of producing cricketers who later became eminent heads of state, with S. Thomas’ producing the father of the nation, Rt. Hon. D. S. Senanayake MP and his son, Hon. Dudley Senanayake MP as Prime Ministers of Ceylon, while Royal Produced Hon. General Sir John Kotelawala MP as Prime Minister and the first Executive President of Sri Lanka, H.E. J. R. Jayawardene.
The official press conference to announce this year’s encounter was held on Wednesday (19th February) at the BMICH in the presence of B.A Abeyrathne, Principal Royal College and Acting Warden of S. Thomas’ College, Asanka Perera, Group Chief Marketing Officer, Dialog Axiata PLC, Mrs Amali Nanayakkara and other sponsors, players, prefects, teachers and members of the media.
The overall tally between the two schools at present stands at 35 wins for Royal and 35 wins for S. Thomas’; the highly debated match in 1885 where Royal College was all out for 09 runs, with no play on the second day, is considered a win by S. Thomas’ and a draw by Royal.
The shield returned to Mount Lavinia last year when Sithara Hapuhinna led Thomian side recorded a memorable win after 12 years. This time around, fast-bowling all-rounder Thevin Eriyagama will lead the College by the sea in their defense of the shield, while the boys from Reid Avenue, who are hoping to win back the shield, will be captained by hard-hitting middle-order batsman Thevindu Senarathne.
Since 2015, Dialog Axiata PLC, Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, has kindled a successful partnership as the official sponsors of the ‘Battle of the Blues’, extending its commitment to the oldest and grandest schools’ big match in the country.
As a promoter of schools’ sports, Dialog will continue its pledge to ‘Play for a Cause’ by contributing 1,000 rupees for every run scored and 10,000 rupees for every wicket that falls at the match. Last year’s exciting encounter contributed 1,166,000 rupees to ‘Play for a Cause’.
The proceedings were directed in consultation with the Principal of Royal College and the Warden of S. Thomas’ College, to support the development of cricket to a school in need of cricketing resources.
Since the inception of ‘Play for a Cause’, 5,143,000 rupees worth of cricket gear has been donated to ten deserving schools.
Played in the highest tradition of excellence, the two schools have formed a bond of mutual respect, camaraderie, sportsmanship and friendly adversaries on and off the field, which has stood for more than 14 decades. As remarked by a yesteryear Principal of Royal College, “There is no Royal without S. Thomas’ and no S. Thomas’ without Royal.”
Once again, the TV umpire technology will also be in place in order to assist the on-field umpires on all line-calls (Stumpings, Run-Outs) throughout the course of the match.
Both the 141st Battle of the Blues encounter and 45th one-day encounter will be telecasted live on Dialog Television, ThePapare.com and My TV.