ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, March 04, 2007
Vol. 41 - No 40

Will ‘Thoras’ repeat 1907 victory

By Bernie Wijesekera

It’s another centenary match for traditional rivals Royal – S. Thomas’. In this year 2007, 128th encounter. It brings back nostalgic memories, when one looks back to the 1907 encounter played at the CCC grounds (present Gymkhana Club). Since colonial times this venue has many firsts be it cricket or rugby.

The Tennakoons have a special place in the archives of Thomian cricket history. The best I’ve seen in my weather – beaten career. The humble cricketer with a rural upbringing – Anura Punchi Banda Tennakoon, from Nikaweratiya. Soft-spoken APB, a gentleman to the fingertips. On and off the field. Has many firsts for STC. Captained the team in 1966. Played for Sri Lanka as a schoolboy in 1965 against England led by MJK (Mike) Smith. Since then no looking back . Has scored “tons” against the world’s best pace attacks. Coming from John Snow, a gangling fast bowler (England). Lillee and Thomson, Salgonkar, Madan Lal, etc. Led SSC and Sri Lanka in 1975 (Ist World Cup) in England. A living cricketing legend.

Steeped with traditions
S. Thomas; was started in 1851 by revered Dr. James Chapman in Mutuwal. He sowed the seeds of cricket, Since then it has flourished. Both schools enjoy a cherished cricket history steeped with traditions. Much more than Eton – Harrow match played in England. Sri Lankan-born Indrajit Coomaraswamy (nephew) of Sathi studied at Royal Junior. Before going to Harrow. Excelled at cricket and rugby.

Back to the 1907 encounter. The Thomians led by E.G.M. Gunawardena won the match by 58 runs. On March 7 and 8. Allan Tennakoon made a dream debut. Scoring 52 not out. Royal was led by S. de Silva.

STC made 122 and 123. Royal could muster only 79 and 108. Royal were baffled by R.E. Wanduragala 7 for 34 and 7 for 42. A match – bag of 14 for 76. Bowlers win matches. But Allan received a cup for this excellent 52 n.o., proved a decisive factor for the Thomian victory in a low scoring match.

At CCC grounds from 1895, ‘96, ’98. Year 1900-1911. Out of the 15 matches played. Thomians won nine games against their arch-rivals. Four in a row. From 1904-1907. Led by A.S. Eliyathamby, I Walloopillai, L.H. Arndt. In 1908 it was drawn.Back to Allan Tennakoon in 1909. He skippered the side. But had to eat humble pie. Royal led by JM Arunachalam. Batted first. Made 152. STC in reply skittled out for 50 runs. Bamboozled by WGL Wambeek 6 for 21. Made to follow on. Fared no better. All out for 42 Wambeek again 6 for 9 caused the rout. A match bag of 12 for 30. Emphatic win for Royal by an innings and 60 runs. In this winning Royal team C.H. Gunasekera (Snr.) Made a debut 55 n.o.

Another Tennakoon
In 1899. Also at the CCC grounds. B. Tennakoon captured 8 for 35. Royal was led by F.A. Obeysekera (from the famed boxing clan) Danton, Fredric and Alex.

King-of-Swing Mevan Pieris a Thomian hails from this clan. Royal made 92. Tennakoon caused the rout. STC in reply 108, and 117 for 6 dec. Royal made 38 for 4. Match drawn.A match-winning 52 n.o., by Allan Tennakoon. Quite a number of Thomians have scored 50 runs on debut, since then. N.A. De S. Wijesekera 71, C. Cotelingam 52 n.o., R.B. Wijesinghe 57, KMT Perera 70. (A bowling allrounder), DS Samuel 51, CEM (Mano) Ponniah 51. His brother David. Present Warden of STC made a debut 100 n.o., in 1967.

The 128th encounter to be played at the SSC next week. Marks the Centenary 1907-2007. Allan and Wanduragala were the architects of the 1907 victory.

Will the Thomians repeat that feat in year 2007 under sedate Ashan Peiris. Will they create cricket history? But cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties. The cup awarded to Allan Tennakoon is preserved for 100 years (Since 1907). Won by Thomians by 58 runs. Down the line. It has been passed on to his young great sons, a .fifth generation of Thomians.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.