The Royal-Thomian will always be special. From the very inception it has been the trend setter and the rest have followed. Arguably it is the root of the ‘cricket trend’ that has been entrenched deeply in the hearts of school cricket and its cricketers. This year there is no difference. The game is bound to [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Royal look to repeat; Thomians seek revenge

138th Battle of the Blues

The Royal-Thomian will always be special. From the very inception it has been the trend setter and the rest have followed. Arguably it is the root of the ‘cricket trend’ that has been entrenched deeply in the hearts of school cricket and its cricketers.

This year there is no difference. The game is bound to be another clock stopper. Just walk past the Sinhalese Sports Club ground next Thursday morning, you will know what we mean.

It’s deemed the second oldest inter-school cricket encounter after St. Peter’s College and Prince Alfred College in Adelaide, Australia which began in 1878 also has the honour of staving off two World Wars which did not prevent from this game being played.

Not only the present boys that is a part of this event. Old and young of both schools along with those domiciled in various countries will be there to mark the event when the two institutions take on each other for the 138th instalment of the series scheduled to be played on March 8, 10 and 11 at the SSC ground.

This time out the encounter will see Royal led by Helitha Vithanage looking for a repeat of their win last year while the Thomians steered by Romesh Nallaperuma will be looking out for a tit-for-tat of last year.

The performances of the two teams this season points in favour of the Thomians who are coming into the game as favourites, but in a match of this nature the underdogs have prevailed and Royal could spring a surprise and are capable of upsetting the apple cart.

Added, the Thomians are coming into the game with an unbeaten record having recorded five outright wins from the 18 matches. Royal from the same number of matches played has not been able to record an outright win but has undergone one outright defeat to Prince of Wales.

The five outright wins recorded by the Thomians were against Dharmapala, Dharmasoka MV Ambalangoda, Anuradhapura Central, St. Sylvester’s and Trinity which was a morale booster just before the big one.

The Royal batting this season has been in the hands of skipper Vithanage who is just 29 runs away from reaching the magical 1000 runs and being the top scorer of the side with 971 runs, he has scored three tons and three half tons.

The young fresher Kavindu Madarasinghe has had a successful season this year having scored a ton and six half tons whilst accumulating over 900 runs and will be one that the Thomian bowlers will have to watch.

Skipper Vithanage has three other batsmen Himesh Ramanayake, Pasindu Sooriyabandara, Ronuka Jayawardena and Ganith Sandeepa who he can depend on to bolster the scoreboard.

Himesh Ramanayake, the son of former Sri Lanka bowler Champaka Ramanayake has scored over 750 runs inclusive of a boundary and two half tons. Ronuka has made over 550 runs, Pasindu over 650 runs with a boundary and four half tons and Ganith over 550 runs.

The bowling will be spearheaded by Himesh and Ganith who together have taken over 70 wickets between them with skipper Vithanage and fresher Manula Perera’s support being expected to curtail the Thomian batting.

Thomians skipper Nallaperuma will bank on Ravindu Kodituwakku and Manthila Wijeratne who both have been in form this season.

Ravindu has over 800 runs to his credit with a ton and four half tons while Manthila has over 650 runs and with the skipper also making over 650 runs the trio will have to lead from the front for others to gain the confidence.

There are two centurions in the side in Dinura Gunawardena and Ishen Perera who both have made over 400 runs and the duo along with Sithara Hapuhinna and Dellon Peiris will be the backbone for the Thomians to put up a formidable score.

Left arm spinner Pavith Ratnayake who is just six wickets away from taking 100 wickets will lead the Thomian attack. Pavith has a best of 7 for 47 against Dharmapala and he has a good partner in Dellon Peiris who also has top figures of 7 for 44.

The Thomian skipper would no doubt be depending on the duo and support will be expected from make shift bowlers Kalana Perera, Dinura Gunawardena and Ravindu Kodituwakku.

The tally in the series is 35 for Royal after their win last year coming out winners under the leadership of Geeshath Panditharatne. The Thomians have won 34 times and their last win was led by Ashan Peiris.

The two teams have some records to be surpassed with Royal’s Sumithra Warnakulasuriya being the highest individual scorer with 197, which he made in 1980. Duleep Mendis holds the Thomian record of 184 made in 1972. The partnership of 254 runs for the third wicket between Anushka Polonnowita and Yasas Dharmaratne made in 1996 stands as the best for any wicket in the series.

Royal holds the record of the best score of the series which is 432 for 9 declared achieved in 2006 eclipsing the best of 388 for 9 held by the Thomians.

The plum is the D.S. Senanayake memorial shield and the match is sponsored by Dialog Axiata.

Royal College squad: Helitha Vithanage (Capt), Himesh Ratnayake, Pasindu Sooriyabandara, Ronuka Jayawardene, Ganith Sandeepa, Kevindu Senaratne, Manula Perera, Krishigan Raveendranathan, Lakindu Nanayakkara, Gayan Dissanayake, Chamaka Edirisinghe, Abhishek Perera, Gothama Ranasinghe, Ahan Wickramasinghe, Yuvin Herath, Kushan Gunaratne, Kavindu Madarasinghe.

S. Thomas’ College squad: Romesh Nallaperuma (Capt), Ravindu Kodituwakku, Dinura Gunawardena, Bhathiya Dissanayake, Anuka Bulankulama, Dulip Gunaratne, Ishen Perera, Manthila Wijeratne, Sithara Hapuhinna (wk), Kalana Perera, Trevin Iriyagama, Tehan Schaffter, Mohamed Ishaq, Shalin de Mel, Dellon Peiris, Pavith Ratnayake, Dineth Kannangara.

Dinesh Kumarasinghe (S. Thomas' College Coach)

This is the youngest S. Thomas’ side since 1983

This is the youngest S. Thomas’ side coming out for a Royal-Thomian since 1983. The side boasts of only three coloursmen and others are fairly young. But as a unit they have done their bit with five wins and no losses. We did not concede even a first innings win to any of our opponents during the season, which depicts seniority has very little say for us.  

Our strongest armour will be the bowling attack combined well with pace and spin. Batting performances of our boys have not been bad at all given the fact that most of them are fresh legs. We know that Royal has an experienced outfit this time but our boys are highly motivated and confident. Nevertheless, we would prefer to come into the game as underdogs and take charge of the affairs progressively. We, the players, coaches and support staff, has had some good motivation and valuable points imparted to us by the vastly experienced Coach Dav Whatmore, who supports S. Thomas’ as a consultant of cricket. By now S. Thomas’ is a highly spirited and confident unit.


Helitha Vithanage (Royal College Captain)

We have performed well during the season

We have performed well during the season after playing around 18 games. I have made 1000 runs and we have another batsman who has scored more than 930 runs. In addition we have five who have surpassed the 500-run milestone. We also have some good bowlers and those who are earmarked as top wicket-takers at the big game have taken over 40 wickets each during the season. Overall the performances of the boys gives us confidence for a good win at the 138th Royal-Thomian battle.  

On paper the Thomians may field a much younger side than ours. But Cricket is game of uncertainty, and S. Thomas’ as always, will be a tough opponent at the annual three-day match. Our boys are confident and positive after playing around 18 games during the season, where we were able to rectify our mistakes one-by-one. With the resources, motivation and lessons we have gained I’m sure Royal can come out winners.


Suranga Wijenayake (Royal College Coach)

It’s all about managing and overcoming situations

This is undoubtedly the most important for both schools in the season. In comparison with our opponents, we are a good side. But that doesn’t mean that we will straightforwardly be the firm favourites in a sport like cricket. It’s all about managing and overcoming situations. Last year we were in a much contrasting situation than this year, nevertheless we played according to situations and changed the game. This time too we will adopt a similar style. We will face situations as it comes and fight till the last delivery to come out winners.  

About the team, Royal has five coloursmen and some good individual performances coming out from certain players. We have a well balanced unit — a good batting lineup combined with a good bowling attack. The Roy-Tho as any other years will be about committing less mistakes and taking the game positively forward coupled up with good brand of cricket. I’m sure by now our boys are geared up to deliver that make the outcome a positive one for Royal.  

Whatever situation S. Thomas’ may be in at the moment we are not concerned about it. Because we always take our opponents seriously. We cannot and never will underestimate S. Thomas’ at the most important game of the season. If we capitalise them throughout the whole of three days on March 9, 10 and 11 with less mistakes, yes we are talking about a Royal win.


Romesh Nallaperuma (S. Thomas' College Captain)

We are   confident now

At the beginning of the season, of course there was uncertainty than at present if we would be a gritty unit as usual for the big match. By now as the skipper I can say we are confident as ever. That momentum we gained the moment we beat Trinity College after 29 years this season and the confident has been growing ever since. It has given us nothing but the will to win.  

We may not have big names but individually we have combined well to pull off some good wins this season. This will be the real test for us all to end the season on a high note. Having said that we very well know that Royal is an experienced side this season but will never bother us from playing our usual game and aiming for a win. The boys have been engaged at training seriously and all of us are really fired up for a win.



S. Thomas'

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