The Sunday Leader

Revival Of Cricket In Kandy Gets Underway

Hafiz Marikar

There was Good news for cricket enthusiasts in Kandy last week after the news that Sri Lanka Cricket had given a wakeup call for the Kandy District Cricket Association, it is said that there is going to be a Division III tournament with thirty two teams which will include teams from Gampola, Nugawella, Kotmale, Galagedera as well.  News is on air, that at a media briefing this was highlighted, but the media men in Kandy are in dark as no one knew about the media conference nor was anyone invited.
This is not a KDCA tournament but organized under the auspices of the parent body “Sri Lanka Cricket” and should be transparent to all instead of it being silently arranged for the association to make a quick bug on the funds released. Kandy must wake up! At one time it was the second largest city for cricket next to Colombo, today right at the bottom in club cricket, Kandy does not have a single club playing in the Premier League, there is only one playing the P. Sara Trophy Tournament and another club in the Division II tournament.  After Sri Lanka gained test status, people like late Dr.C.D.L. Fernando, late M.S. Uduwella, HarindraDunuwille, Roy de Silva, who were past presidents made cricket flourished at Club level, there were several tournaments, limited over, six a-side, Double wicket, triangular, and also one should not forget the yeoman services done by late Z.M. Jauffer and Aubrey Kuruppu when they were the secretaries. There were tournaments for schools,  All Island tournament for juniors school boys, Limited over for inter club, Triangular, Six a side, Double wicket all these tournaments have been dumped into the Kandy Lake today.
All cricket lovers ask what happened to the T/20 cricket tournament which was started last November, only three games were played and Clubs are awaiting for the rest of the matches, the man who is handling Saracens CC with his own fund, a well-known cricketer, commentator and writer, says he is disappointed on the affairs of the KDCA, last year the Minister of sports MahindanandaAluthgamage had given cricketing gear, but Saracens CC say, they only got a bat, glove and a helmet. He also said that, the entry forms for the Division III tournament, there is only one copy in the office and if applicants want they will have to get photo copies on their own, also for meetings they never send any letters, it is said over the air and by here say,  In  the last couple of years cricket in Kandy at club level has hit rock bottom, these officials only come alive when there is an International games in Kandy, yes now comes  the South African series this month and again these officials are highly excited and on the ball to have another carnival atmosphere for their benefit.
When it comes  to cricket, they come out saying there are no grounds, how come the eight schools are playing their matches in all age groups, each team  has over ten games.  It is the duty of the officials who hold office to make arrangements, promote the game of cricket which has a long history in Kandy.  Why did they move from Asgiriya  to Pallekelle, that was to keep the school grounds free to promote  cricket at  Palalekelle Stadium, it was not   built to play only  International matches, but also to promote Kandy district cricket too. What Kandy official’s talk is only about the past cricketers, Mahesh Gunatilake,   MuttiahMuaralitharan, KuamarSangakkara, thank God, they only did their school cricket in Kandy, and played for Colombo Clubs that is where they improved their cricket, if they had waited in Kandy it would have been a different story.
Cricket was played in the Kandy District from about 1863, mainly in the Knuckles, Rangala regions and Kandy town had the Kandy Dancing, Boating, and Rowing Club (Now called the Kandy Sports Club) the first unofficial test in Ceylon was played at Bogambara Grounds in 1889.  The exclusive Europeans Kandy Sports Club invited local Ceylonese to play from 1920.  In 1914 and 1916’s overseas teams played at Bogambara and Trinity College Grounds Asgiriya and in 1935 an Indian University Occasionals team met in the Up-Country.
The revival of Kandy District Cricket took place on 16th August 1946 with Dr. V.H.L. Anthoniesz as Secretary and Col.  Gordon Pyper was the president.  Shortly after the Central Province Cricket Association was formed with Dr. V.H.L. Anthoniesz as President.  He offered the “Dr.V.H.LAnthoniez” shield for the competition amongst Clubs in the Kandy District.  The teams participated were Kandy Sports Club, University Scheme SC, Kandy YMCA, Kandy Young Men’s Buddhist Association SC.  The first tournament was won by Kandy Sports Club led by Francis Amerasinghe.  In 1947 Central Province Cricket Association participated in the Zonal Tournament conducted by the Ceylon Cricket Association. The Kandy District team was styled Central Zone led by Phillip Bultjens.  These were two day matches.  Dr. V.H.L.Anthoniesz did much for Kandy Sports specially cricket and Football.  Dr. Anthoniesz was honorary surgeon to the Governor.  ADC to the Governor, Officer Commanding the Ceylon Medical Crops of the Ceylon Defence Force.  First Ceylonese Secretary of the Kandy Sports Club, Vice Patron of the Kandy Association Football League and later President of Kandy Sports Club and Central Province Cricket Association.
Central Province Cricket Association hosted the 1st Commonwealth Team in 1950, 2nd Commonwealth Team 1951, MCC in 1952, All India in 1956, Pakistan 1964, Hyderabad Blues 1966, State Bank of India 1967, MCC 1969, Australia 1969, MCC 1973, India 1974 and Pakistan 1976 played three matches against Board Presidents XI, while Joe Listers Team played a two day match against the Government Services CA at the Campus Grounds Peradeniya.  This match was hosted by the Government Services C.A.  All these matches from 1950 to 1976 except the two matches mentioned were limited over matches and the rest were two day games up to the granting of Test Status in 1981.  The Karachi Schools Cricket team led by Khalid Weir visited Ceylon in 1954 and in the match against Trinity College, Prince Aslam Khan a promising left arm bowler who had some amassing tour performances, took 5 for 24 at Asgiriya including a hat trick which were of M. Ratwatte, R. Aluwihare and W. Wanduragala were clean bowled.
Kandy DCA organized the first Test  match out of Colombo was in Kandy at Asgiriya stadium, and the World Cup game in 1996 between Sri Lanka and Kenya was played at Asgiriya, so many matches were played and the Kandy DCA officials gave a big hand, honorably not like today,  every one is blessed with a  good packet. Sri Lanka Cricket has an excellent structure in the development and promotion of cricket in the Island and its best that the officials who monitor these development go deep into what this writer has said and investigate and regularize its irregularities when there is already a system in the KDC by promoting it than start new activities at grass root levels in the same district.

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