Centenary Battle of the North to be celebrated in grand style


While preparations are underway .in the South to celebrate the 125 year of the Battle of the Blues”, the Northeast is .preparing itself in a grander scale to have the centenary match between St. John’s and Jaffna Central, popularly known as the Battle of the North from the 18 March to the 20 March 2004 at the Central College grounds. This is the first time that this ‘big match’ is going to be played as a three-day game. Elaborate arrangements are being made by the principal of St. John’s College, Jaffna and the OBAs of Jaffna and South SriLanka to make this event a success.

In addition to this centenary match St John’s is also celebrating the following events:

1) Centenary year of the OBA Jaffna and South Sri Lanka
2) Centenary of the College magazine
3) Centenary of the Big Match
4) Centenary Dinner –27 March

So it is a triple Centenary celebration.

The St John’s College Jaffna OBA (South Sri Lanka) is very busy with a tight schedule in organizing these events. This Centenary match has attracted world-renowned sponsors like Singer SriLanka, LG Abans and Janashakthi Insurance Ltd.The 50 over one day match is fixed for the 25 March 2004.St John’s College Jaffna OBA is expecting its faithful old boys from USA, UK, Newzealand, Australia and Canada to attend all these functions.

Although St John’s College was founded in 1823, the cricketing ties between both schools started in 1904, and up to now St John’s has won 32, Jaffna Central has won 22 with 34 draws. However, due to situations beyond control a few matches were not played during the years 1948,1961,1985,1986,1987,1988,1989,1991,1996, 1997 and one match in 1967 was abandoned.

The first win for St John’s was in 1908 and the last win was in 1990. The first win registered by Jaffna Central was in the inaugural match in 1904 and the last time they won was in 2002. As St John’s has not registered a win since 1990, this crucial centenary match is very vital for them. In contrast since Jaffna Central won the inaugural match in 1904, they will be all out to win the centenary match too. However, in cricket nobody can predict results until the last ball is bowled.

Although St John’s started playing cricket in 1901 under the captaincy of R. R Nalliah, P.S. Hallock captained the first Big Match in 1904 for SJC, while L. R. Alexander led the JCC team. S. K. Mahalingam captained the 50th year match for SJC while S. R. Kanagaligam led the JCC team. It is with pride that one mentions the name of Dr. C. Balakrishnan who captained St John’s in 1960 and 1961, who later represented Sri Lanka in the unofficial test matches played prior to gaining test status.

The first century in this series was scored in 1920 by Johnian C. A. Dissanayake, (104 runs) while A.Ramalingam was the first Centralite in 1945 to score a century (103 runs). The highest individual score in this series is 145 by S. Sureshkumar of St John’s in 1990. The highest team total by St John’s is 326 for 6 wickets in 1999. The best bowling figures in a single inning for both teams were in 1960, where A. J. Somanadar of St. John’s captured 8 for 18, while A. B. Segarajasingam captured 8/22 for JCC. Jaffna Central won this low scoring match.

These details were derived from the souvenir published in 2003 by both schools. Score sheets of the inaugural match in 1904 cannot be produced due to records being destroyed during military operations of 1987 and 1995/96.

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