It’s that time of the year again as the Josephians go marching in for the 83rd Battle of the Saints on 3rd and 4th March, 2017 to regain the trophy from the Peterites.

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A trip down the memory lane

The Josephians have a proud history in the gentlemen’s game. They were one of the first schools in the country to embrace cricket and it has been played for more than 120 years so far at Darley Road. Over the years, Joes have produced many astonishing and archetypal cricketers such as Fairley Dalpethado, Ashley De Silva, Ajith Weerakkody and Chaminda Vaas.

In the recent years, St. Joseph’s College has been the top provider of cricketers to the national team with current national captain Angelo Mathews, all-rounder Thisara Perera and Test opener, Dimuth Karunarathne fondly known as the ‘Josephian Mafia’ all coming through the gates of St. Joseph’s last decade. Other players in the caliber of Roshane Silva, Rajeewa Weerasinghe and Sadeera Samarawickrama are also knocking on the doors of the national team with impressive club cricket performances in recent times.

In 2007, St. Joseph’s College was named Sri Lanka’s best schools cricket team under the leadership of Rajeewa Weerasinghe while in 2011, under Roscoe Thattil, St. Joseph’s College won the U19 Schools Limited-overs championship.

They last won the ‘Big Match’ in 2008 under Ruwantha Fernandopulle’s captaincy. During the past 82 encounters, the boys in Blue & White have won the ‘Big Match’ on 12 occasions while their brothers from Bambalapitiya have only won on 10 occasions including last year’s encounter.

Photo Album: St. Joseph’s College Cricket Team Preview 2016/17

2016/17 Season

St. Joseph’s College competed in Group D of the Singer U19 Schools Cricket Tournament and out of the 8 tournament matches; the Josephians won two games on outright against Bandaranayake College, Gampaha and Maris Stella College to end up in the third position with 107.680 points.

Throughout the season, the Josephians played 19 matches, 11 of which were traditional encounters of which they won three games on outright including the season opener against St. Patrick’s College, Jaffna and all other matches ended as drawn encounter. They are one of the few teams to remain unbeaten in 2016/17 under the leadership of Harin Cooray. The specialty of the Josephians this season would be the strength of their batsmen who have scored over 300 runs on 9 occasions.

Key Players

The southpaw Nipun Sumanasinghe has been in terrific form for the Josephians this season scoring 1099 runs in 19 matches with 3 centuries and 5 half-tons. He became only the first Josephian to pass the 1000-run mark after former skipper Shameera Weerasinghe achieved the feat in 2009. He will be the cynosure of all eyes when he comes out to bat at the fall of first wicket at P. Sara Oval against the Peterites.

Right-handed stroke-maker Dineth Madurawala has made four centuries this season including a match-saving 144* against Thurstan College. He has accumulated close to 850 runs and can tear apart any bowling attack with his aggressive batting approach.

Sri Lanka U19 players, Revan Kelly and Jehan Daniel missed out on many matches due to national duty and will need to deliver at the ‘Big Match’. Kelly has been out of action for the last month due to a back injury and if deemed fit, his presence will certainly bolster the boys from Darley Road.

Skipper Harin Cooray has led from the front with the ball taking 79 wickets this season with his left-arm orthodox spin and will be eager to put up a stellar performance in his final swansong this weekend. Fast bowler Ruchira Ekanayake has picked up close to 40 wickets this season while off-spinner Sumanasinghe has grabbed 35 scalps.

Wicket-keeper and Vice-Captain Shewon Fonseka, youngster Jehan Fernandopulle and experienced Pahan Perera will be the backbone in the Josephian middle order as they combined to score over 1500 runs this season.

Coaching Staff

Former Sri Lanka Test player and Sri Lanka U19 coach, Roger Wijesuriya has been renowned to be a master tactician as he has molded many champion outfits in the past. Coaching the Josephians for the first time, Wijesuriya has done a tremendous job so far.

Michael Adams, a former Josephian is the Assistant Coach of the side while Dharantha Menerigama overlooks the fielding aspects of the team. Prasantha Ranaweera is the master-in-charge of the team while Rev. Fr Milan Bernard is the Prefect of Games.

Final Say

The Josephians will find it tough to take all 20 Peterite wickets but they should have no problem in putting up a competitive score on the scoreboard. The Josephians have lost the Big Match thrice in the last 7 years and will be desperate to bring back the Rev.Fr Maurice Legoc trophy back to Colombo 10 this year.

Full Squad

Harin Cooray (Captain), Shewon Fonseka (Vice-Captain), Jehan Daniel, Revan Kelly, Nipun Sumanasinghe, Dineth Madurawala, Ruchira Ekanayake, Pahan Perera, Havin Perera, Thashan Perera, Jehan Fernandopulle, Dineth Jayakody, Cameron Duruge, Lakshan Gamage, Sachintha Mahindasinghe, Shevaan Rasool, Avishka Fernando, Kavindu Jayathissa, Dario Dassanayake.

St. Joseph’s College 2016/17 Cricket season