Dialog powers 141st Royal-Thomian ‘Battle of the Blues’

Monday, 24 February 2020 00:27 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

From left: Royal College Captain Thevindu Senaratne, Royal-Thomian Match Committee Co-Chairman Prasanna Fernando, Royal College Principal B.A. Abeyratne, Dialog Axiata Group Chief Marketing Officer Amali Nanayakkara, S. Thomas’ College Acting Warden Asanga Perera, Dialog Axiata Enterprise Business and Large Enterprise Sales Vice President Navin Pieris, Royal-Thomian Match Committee Co-Chairman Mahesh Nanayakkara and S. Thomas’ College Captain Thevin Eriyagama 

Sri Lanka’s premier boys schools Royal College, Colombo and S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia will battle it out once again for the 141st uninterrupted occasion for the blue ribbon cricket encounter, the Battle of the Blues, played for the prestigious Rt. Hon. D. S. Senanayake Memorial Shield, from 12-14 March at the SSC Grounds in Colombo.

In the 2020 edition of the Battle of the Blues, powered by Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider Dialog Axiata Plc, the boys from Mount Lavinia will be led by all-rounder Thevin Eriyagama while the lads from Reid Avenue will be playing under the captaincy of Thevindu Senarathne.

The Royal-Thomian has a rich and colourful history spanning 140 years and is also the second longest uninterrupted cricket series played in the world, second only to the annual encounter played between St. Peter’s College, Adelaide, Australia and Prince Alfred College, Adelaide, Australia, that began just a year earlier and the Ashes Series between Australia and England just two years before.

In 1880, the first match was played on Galle Face Green, the present location of the Taj Samudra Hotel. This was the start to the centenary series. Both teams are said to have rowed their boats across the Beira Lake to play the match.

The playing fields of the Roy-Tho have the distinction of producing cricketers who later became eminent heads of state, with S. Thomas’ producing the father of the nation Rt. Hon. D.S. Senanayake (1901-1902) and his son Dudley Senanayake (1927-1929) as Prime Ministers of Ceylon, while Royal produced the Rt. Hon. (General) Sir John Kotelawala MP (1914-1915) as Prime Minister and the first Executive President of Sri Lanka, the late J.R. Jayawardene (1925).

The tally between the two schools presently stands tied at 35, with the highly-debated match in 1885, where Royal College was all out for nine runs with no play on the second day considered a win by S. Thomas’ and a draw by Royal as shown by the respective souvenir books of the two schools. 

At present, the Shield sits as the crown jewel amongst the silverware in the Warden’s trophy cabinet at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, after putting up a superb performance in 2019 under the captaincy of Sithara Hapuhinna, which will be challenged by a determined Royal XI this year. The boys from Reid Avenue last won the coveted shield under the stewardship of Geeshanth Paditharatne in 2016.

In 2019, at the 140th Royal-Thomian, Dialog rekindled a long and successful partnership with Sri Lanka’s blue-ribbon big match. The 141st edition of the Royal-Thomian will be the 12th year that the match is being sponsored by Dialog. Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider Dialog Axiata has also made a pledge to contribute Rs. 1,000 for every run scored and Rs. 10,000 for every wicket that falls. 

Last year’s exciting encounter contributed Rs. 1,166,000 to the ‘Play for a Cause’ pledge. The proceedings were directed in consultation with the Principal of Royal College and the Warden of S. Thomas’ College to support and empower selected deserving schools. Since the inception of the ‘Play for a Cause’ pledge, Rs. 5,143,000 worth of cricket gear has been donated to 10 deserving schools.

Played in the highest tradition of excellence, the two schools have formed a bond of mutual respect, camaraderie and sportsmanship on and off the field, which has stood for almost one and a half centuries. As remarked by a past Principal of Royal College, “There is no Royal without S. Thomas’ and no S. Thomas’ without Royal.” 

Dialog Axiata is the proud sponsor of the Sri Lanka national cricket, rugby, volleyball and netball teams. The company also shares a close association with the President’s Gold Cup Volleyball, junior national and senior netball tournaments, club rugby, premier football, school cricket, junior volleyball and paralympic sports by powering the Army Para Games, National Para Games and the Sri Lankan contingent to the Olympic and World Paralympic Games.