143rd Battle of the Blues Powered by Dialog
July 18, 2022 Colombo
Photographed (L-R) Gishan Balasooriya (Captain - Royal College, Colombo 07), Arjuna Waidyasekera (Co-Secretary - Royal Thomian Joint Match Organising Committee), Mr. Sanath Jayalath (Principal - Royal College, Colombo 07), Navin Pieris (Group Chief Officer - Dialog Enterprise, Dialog Axiata PLC), Rev. Marc Billimoria (Warden - S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia), Roshan Adam (Co-Chairman - Royal Thomian Joint Match Organising Committee), Ryan Fernando (Captain - S. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia)
Sri Lanka’s longest running cricket series played between premier boy’s schools, Royal College, Colombo 07 and S. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia will battle it out for the 143rd uninterrupted time for the prestigious Rt. Hon. D S Senanayake Memorial Shied from July 21st to 23rd 2022 at the Sinhalese Sports Club, Colombo 07.
Due to the unprecedented times which have led to the adverse situation in the country, the Joint Match Organising Committee of the Royal – Thomian, under the guidance of the heads of the two schools have decided to play the 143rd edition of the Royal - Thomian behind closed doors with only the boys tents of the two respective schools allowed to operate inside the premises. The 143rd ‘Battle of the Blues’ cricket encounter will be broadcast live on Dialog Television channel number 140, and will also be available via a live stream on the ThePapare.com and the Dialog ‘Viu’ app. The limited over ‘Mustangs Trophy’ match will be played on the following Saturday at the same venue.
In the 140th edition of the Royal-Thomian, Dialog rekindled a long and successful partnership with Sri Lanka’s blue-ribbon big match, ‘The Battle of the Blues’. The 143rd edition of the Royal-Thomian will be the 14th year that the match is sponsored by Dialog Axiata, Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider. Dialog Axiata made a pledge to contribute Rs. 1,000 for every run scored and 10,000 rupees for every wicket that fell. Last year’s encounter contributed Rs. 383,000 to the ‘Play for a Cause’ pledge. The proceedings were distributed in consultation with the Principal of Royal College and the Warden of S. Thomas’ College to support and empower deserving schools in the country.
In this year’s 143rd edition of the ‘Battle of the Blues’, powered by Sri Lanka’s premier connectivity provider, Dialog Axiata PLC, the boys from Mt. Lavinia will be led by Allrounder Ryan Fernando, while the lads from Reid Avenue will play under the captaincy of Left arm orthodox spinner Gishan Balasooriya ‘The Royal – Thomian’ has a rich and colourful history spanning across 142 years and is also the second longest uninterrupted cricket series played in the world, second only to the annual encounter played between St. Peters College – Adelaide and Prince Alfred College – Adelaide, Australia, that began just a year earlier. The Australia vs England Ashes Series commenced two years later in 1882.
In 1880, the first match in which only the boys took part was played at Galle Face, the present location of the Taj Samudra Hotel. This was the start to the century old series. Both teams are said to have rowed in boats across the Beira Lake to play the match.
The playing fields of the ‘Roy – Tho’ has the distinction of producing cricketers who later became eminent heads of state, with S. Thomas’ producing the father of the nation, the late Rt. Hon. D. S. Senanayake MP (1901 - 1902), whom the Shield is named after and his son, the late Hon. Dudley Senanayake MP (1927-1929) as Prime Ministers of Ceylon, while Royal produced the late 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 at present stands at 35-all, with the highly-debated match in 1885, where Royal College was all out for nine runs and refusing to play on the second day which was considered a win by S. Thomas’ and considered a draw by Royal as shown in the respective souvenir books of the two schools. The shield at present sits, akin to the crown jewels, amongst the silverware in the Warden’s trophy cabinet at S. Thomas’ College – Mt. 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, who racked up impressive wins during the COVID-19 impacted calendar. The boys from Reid Avenue last won the coveted shield under the stewardship of Geeshanth Paditharatne in 2016.
Played in the highest tradition of excellence, the two schools have a formed a bond of mutual respect, camaraderie, sportsmanship, and friendly adversaries on and off the field, which has stood for almost one-and-a-half centuries. As remarked by a yesteryear Principal of Royal College: “There is no Royal without S. Thomas’ and no S. Thomas’ without Royal.”
Dialog Axiata is proud to sponsor Sri Lanka’s National Cricket, Volleyball and Netball teams. The Company also has a close association with the President’s Gold Cup Volleyball, National Junior and Senior Netball tourneys, Schools Rugby League and Knockout Trophies, Premier Football, Junior Volleyball and Paralympic sports – whilst also powering the Army Para Games, National Para Games and the Sri Lankan contingent to the Olympic and World Paralympic Games.