Two saints at battle and the stakes are high

Murali-Vaas Trophy at Joes - St. Anthony’s game on February 17 and 18
By Supun Perera

The prestigious and historic centenary cricket encounter between St. Joseph's College Colombo and St. Anthony’s College Katugastota will take place on February 17 and 18 at Darley Road commencing at 9.30 am on each day. These two great institutions, which posses two Biblical names, has produced great cricketers who has made their Alma Mater and in general the country proud, with their sterling performances on the field.

The motivation for this all important encounter is the ‘Murali-Vaas Trophy’ which was inaugurated in 2007 in appreciation of the two legendary cricketers of all time; left arm seam merchant Chaminda Vaas of St. Joseph's and spin wizard Muttiah Muralitharan of St. Anthony's. Both have rendered yeoman service to Sri Lankan cricket in both Test and One dayers and still we strive hard to find suitable replacements for these two great men; who have left an indelible mark in the history of cricket in Sri Lanka. Both Vaas and Muralitharan played a key role in winning the World Cup for Sri Lanka under Arjuna Ranatunga in 1996.

To recap and recount the glorious past of the Joes -Antonian cricket encounters; The inaugural encounter took place in 1899 and St. Joseph's defeated the Katugastota lads by 90 runs in a One Day match. Since then till 1910 the match was not played since St. Anthony's could not field a competitive first eleven side. Further, the history details out that the Antonians received poor reception from the tournament organizers, along with Ananda College where they were ignored unfairly from the first eleven school's league. However they have managed to play private friendly encounters which resulted in convincing wins for both St. Anthony's and Ananda. The year 1916 was a memorable year for the Katugastota College where they were promoted to the higher echelons but in the very same year they were humiliated by the champion Darley Road outfit by an innings and forty nine runs.

In the following year the Antonians took a sweet revenge over Josephians where they recorded their maiden victory in a two day encounter under Jack Anderson in Kandy. Previously the Kandy school managed to defeat their counterparts in a one day games in 1913 and 1915 respectively. The Antonians have the great privilege in producing one of the most accomplished batsmen Jack Anderson. In 1917 the Katugastota lads had the great opportunity of defeating the Josephians by an innings and 162 runs. The architect of this victory for Antonians was non other than their captain himself Jack Anderson. His majestic knock of 184 helped the Antonians to build up a massive total of 357.

In the following year (1918), large crowds thronged to St Joseph's College grounds to witness the batting of Jack Anderson. According to history and the sports statistics of yesteryear this was supposed to be the first inter collegiate cricket encounter and to the utter dismay of the crowd; Josephian star all-rounder L.A. Rajapakse (later Sir Lalitha Rajapakse) shattered Anderson's stumps when he was on 05. In a closely fought battle St. Joseph's emerged victorious by 49 runs under the able leadership of Victor De Alwis.

Both St. Joseph's and St. Anthony's have made a notable contribution to Sri Lankan Cricket in both the pre and post Test era. The Katugastota lads could boast of F. Wijegunawardena, Cecil Senaratne, Jack Anderson, A.C.M. Lafir, T.M.A. Cooray, W. Premaratne, Ranjith and Saliya Doranegama, Prof. A. Sheriffdeen, Mahesh Goonetilleke, Bernard Perera, Ruwan Kalpage, Muttiah Muralitharan and Piyal Wijetunga; who made their Alma Mater and the native country proud. Incidentally; Mahesh Goonetilleke one time the brilliant stumper, Ruwan Kalpage, Muttiah Muralitharan and Piyal Wijetunga wore the prestigious Test cap for the country. On the other hand St. Joseph's produced a galaxy of cricketers in the caliber of Sir Chittampalam A. Gardiner, Cecil Horan, Dr. C.M.M. Zubair (The first Moor Doctor of the Island), Oswin Wright, Prof. J.P. De Fonseka, Sir Albert F. Pieris, Sir Lalitha Rajapakse, Senator Bernard Jayasuriya, K.W. Devanayagam (one time Minister), D.S. Jayasundera, Bobby Fernando, Malcolm Spittle, Hector Perera (snr), Makkin Salih, Great allrounder and reputed coach Fairlie Dalpethado, Ken Serpanchy, Malcolm Franke, Keerthi Caldera, Lalith De S. Wijayaratne, Brian Obeysekera, Garry Melder, Rohan Wijayasinghe (Snr & Jnr), Ashley De Silva, Brian Rajadurai, Brothers Rohan and Ajith Weerakkody, Chaminda Vaas, Michael Vandort, Present Sri Lanka Vice Captain Angelo Mathews, Explosive all-rounder Thisara Perera, Dimuth Karunaratne and Roshan Silva.
Out of them Ashley De Silva, Chaminda Vaas, Michael Vandort, Angelo Mathews and Thisara Perera had the distinct honour in wearing the Test cap for the country.

Series wise, out of the 99 encounters the Josephians are way ahead than their counterparts with 39 victories to eight won by the Antonians. The last Josephian victory was recorded in 2008 under Ruwantha Fernandopulle which ended a 23 year wait for the Darley Road lads since they last defeated the Katugastota school under Jivaka Candappa way back in 1984. However the Antonians are long overdue since they recorded their last victory under Nuwan Kalpage back in 1991.

The centenary encounter is of special importance, both St. Joseph's and St. Anthony's the two teams are equally strong on paper. Fourth year Coloursman wicket keeper batsman Vidusha Jayasinghe leads the Josephians while paceman Kanishka Ranaraja will lead the experienced Antonians.

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