"Battle of the Blues" the grandeur among schools

bigmatch.jpg (13978 bytes)by Gamini Perera - Sunday Observer Mar 10 2002

Like all good things the 123rd "Battle of the Blues" ended yesterday amidst a scene of colour, music and dance.

Eye filling were the colourful banners and the impressive Mustangs and Colts tents amidst the cheering by schoolboys, who really elevated yet another Royal-Thomian to a plane of not only solemnity of the occasion, but did also conform to accepted norms of the big occasion.

Melifluous samba music welcomed the huge crowd which thronged the picturesque SSC grounds at Maitland Place hours before the big’un commenced.

This Royal-Thomian was once again a show piece of cricket spiced with fervour and grandeur. The invocation of the song and dance tribes of the schoolboys of both colleges lifted the whole ambience to a different level.

The singers injected much depth and feeling into rendering meaningful compositions, all stereo typed for the occasion.

It had been sometime since I went for a Royal-Thomian, the last being during my days with the Ceylon Observer.

On test along with the cricket were some exciting young players and Sri Lanka will know more about them as the years roll-by and when they begin to represent the country. Not all but some of them. As perfect gentlemen of the game, the Thomians and the Royalists have always played the game hard and had never run a foul of the ethics of the great game of the Gentlemen—Cricket.

The Royal-Thomian ‘Big Match’ had been played for 123 years, and those players have played the game in such good spirit that there hadn’t been anything other than true sportsmen. Hence, this year’s young cricketers have a lot to live upto. Without any doubt every match has been entertaining and enthralling.

We are all aware that both the Thomians and Royalists have an excellent record. In all a reputed past. That’s why this encounter of the ‘Blues’ has gone well in the sands of time. Such a record has, however, not been built up without recourse to some questionable pitch preparation and accusations now abound in the international arena of cricket.

The pitch at the SSC has had no horrors of break-in, where the spinning ball bites like a cobra.

It is interesting to see that the calibre of cricket of the Thomians and the Royalists are up here at the SSC.

The two teams have always exhibited a cavalier brand of cricket, which has never failed to be entertaining.

But, one principle will always follow these big ‘un of cricket camaraderies. The side going in as ‘underdogs’ will at sometime emerge the worthy winners.

So here, I am at the Press Box covering the final day’s play of this prestigious battle.

Of the 122 matches played so far, the two teams share the same amount of victories - 32 each, with 58 ending in stalemates.

The last win for the Thomians was in 1999 under Naren Ratwatte, while the Royalists emerged victorious in 1991 under the leadership of R. Iriyagolle.