Having played an instrumental role in the incredible progress of Sri Lankan cricket, the Mercantile Cricket Association (MCA) will be celebrating its centenary on the 15th of February with a renewed focus on generating opportunities for cricketing success.
Over the last 100 years, the MCA has helped develop innumerable cricketing careers, including those of virtually every national cricketer, past and present. From golden greats like Arjuna Ranatunga, Bandula Warnapura and Duleep Mendis, to cricketing superstars such as Kumar Sangakkara, Tilakaratne Dilshan and Angelo Matthews, who continue to star for the MCA, the Association has helped cricket and cricketers take big strides forward.
Founded in 1911 as the Mercantile Cricket Competition, the MCA kicked off with an inaugural match between Cumberbatch SC and Liptons SC, which Cumberbatch emerging as winners. It has since evolved from its roots as a British-administered league, passing from the able stewardship of its first Sri Lankan president, eminent cricketing personality, Mr. Chandra Schafter, to the management of its current president, Mahesh Wijewardene. Over the years, it has become the highest ranked cricket-promoting association in the country, even being selected by Cricket Sri Lanka as the ideal on which to model its own tournaments.
The Association conducts 7 major tournaments and over 500 match fixtures every year. From the ‘A’ to ‘G’ Division matches, the Mercantile Six-a-Side tournament, the Over-40 Sixes competition, the 20x20 league, the highly regarded MCA Inter Academy Invitational tournament and the Women’s Six-a-Side cricket tournament, the MCA is invested in building the infrastructure necessary for Sri Lankan cricket to sustain its preeminence.
Through its partnerships with over 150 of the top corporate organizations, the MCA has created job opportunities for budding cricketers from all across the island, with hundreds of schoolboy cricketers finding employment each year through the MCA. These companies, which include the country’s biggest and best firms, can participate simply by entering a 6-side team and sponsoring the cost of their own matches.
Once a company becomes an MCA partner, individual employees can then apply for membership privileges, which include access to a host of entertainment options such as a full-service clubhouse, an air-conditioned restaurant, a karaoke bar, an elegant utility bar, a conference room, and of course top-notch cricketing facilities that include batting and bowling nets and a first-class cricket field.
In spite of all the accolades and recognition it has received over the last century, the MCA is not content to rest on its laurels. Instead, the Association is constantly looking for ways to take cricket forward. For example, it opened the MCA Cricket Academy in 2002, which currently trains 140 students in order to prepare them for the next level and recently opened a floodlit basketball court.
Cricket is so ingrained in our members of the executive committee that they all serve the association purely for the love they share with the game, expecting nothing in return,
That same passion is reflected in the itinerary of events they have set out for the centenary celebrations of the MCA. MCA T20 invitation super tournament consisting of local as well as overseas teams, centenary musical show, MCA coffee table book, Gala dinner for member companies are some of the highlights
As the MCA prepares for its next century, it does so with the knowledge that it has an integral role to play in keeping Sri Lanka at the forefront of international cricket. Indeed, with the next World Cup only weeks away, the Association can take pride in the way it has shaped the careers of the entire national team and helped it become one of the world’s best.