By Amindha de Alwis
The 142nd Battle of the Blues big match between Royal College, Colombo and S. Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia may be held sans spectators at a venue outside the Western Province contingent to approval from health authorities.
Organising committee members from both schools, when contacted by the Daily Mirror, were non-committal with regard to revealing proposed dates or venues but shared that a decision on the matter is likely to be made public next week.
It is strongly rumoured that with the Western Province continuing to record high numbers of Covid-19 cases per day, one of the Hambantota, Dambulla or Pallekele International Cricket Stadiums could be in line to host the traditional encounter.
A date for hosting the big match remains up in the air as even assuming the match is green-lit by the Education Ministry and Health Authorities, the government has scheduled the GCE Ordinary Level Examination for March while London Advanced Level Exams are expected to be conducted in May/June. The possibility of holding the match in early April remains, but in such a scenario it may be restricted to a two-day affair owing to the players having been out of action for a year and being ill-prepared to walk straight into a three-day match.
The committees of both schools are said to have agreed to a two-day match if necessary but remain open to contesting the full three-days. Director of Sports and Overseer of Cricket for S. Thomas’ College, Dinesh Kumarasinghe said that playing a three-day match after an extended layoff would not be ideal for the players unless the match was further postponed beyond the London Advanced Level exams.
“From last year March till now no cricket has been played. Not even at under-15 or under-17 levels. So going for a three-day match at the end of March or early April straight away without any practice matches will be hard. The boys have to prepared or we will see many injuries from both the teams. We are however willing to play three days if that is what is agreed to,” he said.
In response to word of S. Thomas’ College having brought in new cricket players to the school in the last few months, Kumarasinghe stated that there was no truth to the rumours, saying that the school typically takes in 50 to 70 academically high-achieving students following the results of the annual GCE Ordinary Level Examination.
With the exam having been postponed from last December to March this year, he commented that there have been no new students who have entered the school and subsequently joined the team as of late.