Cricket

Battle of the Blues: Second oldest cricket match in world

[caption id="attachment_64013" align="alignnone" width="580"]DSC09641 The Royal-Thomian Battle of the Blues cricket match in progress at SSC in Colombo on Saturday. Image Source: Xtra Time[/caption]

Debasis Sen, Colombo: It was an electrifying atmosphere at the Sinhalese Sports Club ground on Saturday for the Battle of the Blues match. One would wonder what this match is all about. Well The Battle of the Blues is the second oldest running cricket match that has been staged uninterrupted since the last 138 years.

One would be amazed to know that even World War I and II could not halt the staging of this match between the two reputed schools here in Colombo. The Royal-Thomian game is older than the Ashes series between Australia and England which is indeed unique. In Ceylon of the years gone by and Sri Lanka today, the Royal - Thomian cricket match is an undeclared holiday for the young and old of both schools.

Many great Prime Ministers, a former President, Ministers and leading citizens of the land in many fields have represented both schools in the Big Match. The present Prime Minister of the emerald isle, Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe was present on Friday for the opening day. There has been many cricketers representing Ceylon and Sri Lanka from both schools with distinction. Some have captained the National Team with much acceptance. Thomians and Royalist young and old, continue to share the friendly rivalry each year and has also continued to uphold the greatest traditions, competitors cannot boast about. There are many old boys from both schools domiciled abroad.

Talking about the Royal-Thomian challenge former Sri Lankan captain Ranjan Madugule said, “It’s nearly 38 years since I last played a Royal-Thomian. It’s only in my last year, which was the Centenary year; this encounter became a 3-day match as opposed to a 2-day match. What have changed remarkably are the peripheral aspects and the commercialization of the game. We now have a dedicated bunch of old boys from both schools who run this game almost like a company to ensure that they maximize on commercial opportunities, generate income which is then channeled back to the schools to develop the sport and also contribute towards some worthy causes.”

The party will be even bigger on the third and final day on Sunday. It is expected that a capacity crowd of 30000 spectators will turn up to soak in the festive atmosphere.

Back in India in Mumbai Dadar Union and Shivaji Park Gymkhana have had their own history and of course there are those spread across England. But none of them are likely to attract the kind of large audiences that are seen over the big weekend in Colombo.

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