Inaugural Cricket Encounter St. John’s & S. Thomas’ OBA’s Sydney

Inaugural Cricket Encounter St. John’s & S. Thomas’ OBA’s Sydney

Classics battle between S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia and St. John’s College Jaffna 25th April 2021


Few weeks ago on a beautiful Autumn Sunday morning, history was made at a suburban Sydney ground in Glenorie where the inaugural Joanians versus Thomian annual encounter took place. A special mention is due to the Opens captains Anuk & Marino who were instrumental in organising this encounter.

The Classics game was played for the Anton John Chandiah Selvaratnam Shield aptly named after an old boy of St John’s College Jaffna who was the Warden of S. Thomas’ College Mount Lavinia from 1965-70. The two skippers got the match underway by 9am when the Joanian skipper Anton won the toss and elected to bat when the Thomian skipper Indrajith (Indy) Gunawardhana’s called it wrong. Both camps were ecstatic with the result of the toss as they both got what they wanted.The scene was set for a cracking day of cricket where both Opens and Classics games were of the thrilling T20 format played to International rules with the 30 yard power play circle being marked to precision with a measuring tape. A single late adjustment was made to the Classics game to retire not out which did cause some confusion but had no impact to the game.

Ruwan and Don opened the bowling for the Thomians making an early breakthrough in the first over where the opener’s wickets were rattled. The restriction of 2 fielders outside the circle in the first six overs resulted in some rapid scoring in overs 3 to 5, especially a 33 run partnership by Balendra & Nevil. Despite the scoring the skipper persisted with the openers where 3 more wickets fell in overs 5 & 6 to end of the power play at 4/36. Chaminda was brought into the attack who bagged a wicket in the first over. Clement & skipper Anton followed up with a valuable 30 run partnership. A total of six bowlers were used where every bowler delivered the goods helping to bowl out the Joanians to 89 runs in the 19th over.

Thomian opening bats Nihal & Chaminda strode into the middle after lunch and were in a nonchalant mood. Chasing 5 runs an over, they ticked along at 6 an over by the end of the power play. Upon Chaminda’s retirement, the evergreen Richie walked in and started caning the Joanians which was sweet revenge to Thomians who were caned by Warden Selvaratnam (old Joanian). Indy and Richie saw it through to end in the 13th over with Richie scoring 2 mighty sixers & 3 fours.

The Thomians secured the inaugural shield with Richie winning the best batsman’s award, Ruwan the best bowler & Chaminda the man of the match award.

Match Report by the Thomian Skipper

It was a fitting conclusion to the day when Nihal Rama made the following observations at the start of the award ceremony.

He said that he was both privileged and humbled to address the Old Boys of two great schools S John’s and S Thomas’, at this inauguration event of the cricket encounters in Sydney. To quote his well researched and rehearsed message delivered with witty dictom:

 “When I was asked to do so last evening, what came to my mind was the commonalities of these two institutions.

S John’s was established in 1823 by the Christian Missionaries, led by Rev Knight. S Thomas’ was established later in 1851 by Bishop Chapman, the Bishop of Colombo, at that time. To be run and managed by the Church of Ceylon.

There are other similarities as well. I have found many Johnians who consider themselves fortunate that they have Chundikuli Girls School as their neighbour, since they relocated premises in 1845. Thomians too have such a neighbour. Girls High School in Mt Lavinia. I have heard, Thomians in my sons’ era call them the Welle Buddist. You know we Thomians are from a welle school. A ‘beach school’.

Further, both schools had principals and wardens brought down from Britain / England to run our schools. However, one day Thomians said enough is enough.  we did not want any Brits to run our school – but we wanted a Johnian. So it was. Then came Rev AJC Selvaratnam, a true Johnian as the Warden of S. Thomas’.

He was my warden too. During my time, it was common to get caned by the Headmasters of the school – as many of us did. However, it was not common to be caned by the Warden. I was one of the few who were ‘privileged’ to get caned by this mild tempered Johnian turned Warden, Rev AJC Selvaratnam.  This was exactly my scare this morning when I came to play against a group of Johnians. I did not want another beating, another caning from Johnians. Thankfully, as the events turned out to be, that was not to be.

Of all the similarities that we Johnians and Thomians have, there is a single commonality that I value most. From our small days in these great schools, we are taught to coexist and harmoniously engage with kids of different religious beliefs, different ethnic groups, and so on. This is a very valuable thing that is common to all of us coming from these great schools.

That is why today, when old boys of two such schools meet, we can comfortably engage and extend our friendship. Such friendship and solidarity were amply displayed today at this inaugural cricket match. I pray that the Johnians and the Thomians will continue   to play this game annually as planned. Thank you.”

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