It’s more like ‘Christmas’ for the schoolboy cricketers in Sri Lanka as the ‘Big Match’ season is just around the corner. The lads from Thurstan College, Colombo, renowned as a formidable outfit in the 2015/16 season, are keen to break the 24-year old wait to win their ‘Big Match’ encounter against Isipathana College, in what will be the 53rd Battle of the Brothers, on the 26th and 27th of February at SSC grounds.

Bit of History:

Thurstan College has been playing cricket since the early 1950s and has produced many champion teams in the past, including the team crowned as the best cricket team of the island in the 2007/2008 season under the stewardship of all-rounder Umesh Karunarathne.

In 2014, Thurstan College emerged under 19 limited-overs champions, beating S. Thomas’ College in the final under Minhaj Jaleel’s captaincy. Last season, all-rounder Thimira Jayasinghe led Thurstan to second place in the under 19 Division I league table, second only to Trinity College.

Players in the caliber of Amitha De Costa, Niroshan Bandaratilleke, Hemantha Boteju and Lahiru Gamage have represented Sri Lanka after learning the basics from Thurstan College. The boys in Blue, Red and Gold registered their last ‘Big Match’ victory way back in 1992.

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Season so far:

The Thurstanites have played 16 matches so far and have managed to get 6 wins under their belt but unfortunately they lost their pre-quarter final encounter to St. Servatius College, Matara last week, hampering their title hopes.

Key Players

Sri Lanka under 19 representative and 5th year coloursman, Charana Nanayakkara will lead the strong Thurstan outfit. An extremely talented fast-bowling all-rounder, Charana has a brilliant cricketing brain over his shoulders and has a wealth of experience. The right-hander has scored close to 500 runs this season despite missing many matches due to national commitments.

Charana’s deputy for the season, Sajith Gunathilake is a technically sound right-handed top-order batsman who has an invaluable repertoire of strokes and is pleasing to the eye while in full-flow. An occasional off-spinner, he has scored more than 500 runs this season and a lot will depend on his form during the all-important ‘Big Match’.

Senior player Kasun Abeyrathne representing his alma mater for the 3rd consecutive year is another batsman to watch out for as he has shots all around the ground. A regular wicket-keeper over the last few seasons, Kasun has given up keeping duties to concentrate more on his batting.

Left-arm spinner, Dilan Madusanka has been the most successful bowler for the team from Reid Avenue. He is the only player to reach the 50-wicket mark and will be itching to provide vital breakthroughs in the 53rd Battle of the Brothers. Another left-arm spinner, Naveen Gunawardene playing his second season has already picked up over 30 wickets and he is assured to play a big part in Thurstan’s plans for the Big Match.

Fast-bowler Isitha Dew is expected to lead the bowling unit; the tall lanky right-arm seamer has captured over 25 scalps this season. Isitha’s partner-in-crime will be Nipun Lakshan who is also a solid all-rounder for the Thurstanites.

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Young and New Players

Right-arm off-spinner Thushal Madusanka in his first season for Thurstan College has been playing a key role in all the matches as he has picked up over 40 wickets. He has proved to be a useful low-order batsman and an agile fielder at any position. Wicket-keeper batsman Imesh Viranga is a devastating left-handed batsman who can tear apart any bowling lineup on any given day. Another wicket-keeper batsman Salinda Samaranayake has also aggregated over 400 runs this season.

Coaching Staff

Despite the presence of Mr. Saman Hewawitharana, who is a great tactician with loads of experience of over 25 years in the field of coaching, Suneth Gunathilaka acts as the head coach. Gunathilaka is currently in his 6th year at Thurstan College. This is his second consecutive year while Leslie Harischandara has been given the responsibilities of Master-In-Charge of the team.

Final Say

Thurstan College possess a superb, well-gelled outfit to face the high-riding Isipathana team at SSC grounds on the 26th and 27th but they will all need to play their best game in order to come out as winners and break the long 24-year old victory draught.

Captain Charana Nanayakkara

Coach Suneth Gunathilaka