The Southern Blues; A medieval tussle

123rd Battle of the Blues Ruhuna

310

The 123rd cricket encounter between the two oldest schools in Matara St. Thomas’ and St. Servatius’ will be played on the 24th, 25th and 26th of March at the Uyanwatta Stadium, Matara.

History

One of the most sought-after annual school cricket encounters in Sri Lanka, the Battle of the Blues Ruhuna dates well beyond a century to the year 1900. It is the third oldest big match series played in Sri Lanka trailing just behind the Royal-Thomian (played since 1879), and Dharmaraja-Kingswood (since 1899). But as far as the number of big matches played so far, this series ranks second in the list, with 122 encounters, second only to the [Roy-Tho] which has been played 144 times.

Out of the 122 games played, the Thomians have won 32 while 27 have ended in favour of the Servatians. The last outright win for the Servatians was recorded way back in 1971 and St. Thomas’ won last in 2007 and they are the current holders of the Trophy.

St. Servatius’ College

St. Servatius’ College, under the leadership of Chiran Neththaru, has had a decent season so far, bringing home 2 outright wins and 4 first-inning wins in the games that they have contested. Their 2 outright wins came against St. Anthony’s College Wattala and Darmashoka College Ambalangoda. Notably, the Servatians are now in the semifinals of the ongoing U19 Division 1 Tier ‘B’ Inter-Schools Two-Day Tournament.

The Servatian batting this season has revolved around stylish left-handed batsman Diniru Abeywickramasinghe who has amassed over 850 runs. He has made 3 hundreds and 4 fifties this season. Apart from him, the captain Chiran Neththaru has scored more than 730 runs with 1 hundred and 5 fifties.

The bowling of St. Servatius’ is anchored by their right-arm fast bowler Tharusha Damindu who has bagged 38 wickets in the 11 matches that he has played. Along with him left spinner Viran Chamudith and right-arm medium fast bowler Chathum Bimsara have played vital roles in the bowling lineup by grabbing 36 and 32 wickets, respectively.

St. Servatius’ squad

“Chiran Neththaru (C), Tharush Damindu (VC), Diniru Abeywickramasinghe (WK), Viran Chamuditha, Vishwa Supun, Bimal Nethmaka, Chamrindu Nethsara, Chathum Bimsara, Denuwan Pramod, Kalana Sankalpa, Kushan Wijerama, Mithila Minsara, Raveen Kawintha, Risnuka Kithnuka, Tharuka Imadhith, Thisan Dewmin”

St. Thomas’ College

St. Thomas will enter this year’s battle under the leadership of all-rounder Senura Perera.

Thus far 2022/23 has been a season to forget for the Thomians, they have played 12 matches and have two outright wins (Devananda College Ambalangoda, Sri Rahula College Matara), five losses and five draws under their belt. The ongoing U19 Division 1 Tier ‘A’ Inter-Schools Two-Day Tournament hasn’t helped their fate either, as they ended on the bottom of the table and will be battling it out in the relegation playoffs.

The Thomians are heavily reliant on their star all-round duo Pesandhu Sanjana and Senura Perera. Pesandhu a right-hand right-arm medium-fast bowler has been impressive this season as he has gone on to score over 750 runs while grabbing 30 wickets. Meanwhile, the latter Senura Perera, the captain of the team has clocked over 300 runs with the bat and has taken 30 wickets with his left-arm orthodox bowling.

Mohamed Majeed (400 runs), Dineth Sanjula (400 runs) and Sanju Dilshan (300 runs) are some other players who have had a reasonable season with the bat. Specially Dineth Sanjula who very recently got a brilliant hundred against St. Sylvester’s College Kandy is a player to watch out for.

St. Thomas Squad

“Senura Perera (C), Loshitha Dikshith (VC), Shashindu Jayasekara, Tharuja Pivathuru, Abdul Majeed, Bhanuka Insamal, Dinath Sanchith, Dumindu Shakshara, Indusara Jayathunga, Jimuth  Iddamalgoda, Kumesh Nuwanjana, Manuga Yonal, Nenuka De Seram, Ochintha Chamika, Pesandhu Sanjan, Sandeepa De Silva, Sanju Dilshan”

This encounter has not seen a winner since 2007. Hence, both schools will be looking to break the shackles this year. As far as St. Servatius’ are concerned they haven’t had a win since 1971, so could this be the year that they finally end a long-lasting hoodoo?

ThePapare.com will bring you the live action of the match.