For more than a century, Trinity College has taken on St. Anthony’s College in a cricket encounter known for its friendly rivalry. The sixth oldest big match has an excellent record from its inception, and is known to be the most peaceful big match in Sri Lanka, with not even one incident of hatred and clashes. This brotherhood and tradition has resulted in the Trinity-Antonian encounter becoming one of the biggest sporting events in the Hill Capital.
Trinity was the first to enter the game and played the first match in 1893, followed by the Antonians in 1899. After more than a century, the current tally stands at 23 victories for Trinity and 12 wins for St. Anthony’s, with 64 matches ending in draws. The last outright win for the Antonians was in 1992 under Umesh de Alwis, and Trinity last won under Niroshan Dickwella in 2012. Prior to Sri Lanka’s independence, Trinity dominated by winning most of the matches. It was only after 1948 that the Antonians started to register wins. The two teams will compete for the John Halangoda Challenge Trophy, introduced to the big match during the latter part of the last century. Named after an outstanding Trinitian who subsequently turned out to be a great cricket coach at St. Anthony’s, it’ll be rather interesting to see who take it home this year.
Unlike most other big matches, the Trinity-Antonian affair does not follow the tradition of extending the match to three-days. The reason behind this is that most of the old boys of the two schools live either out of Kandy or abroad. As a result, old boys from outside Kandy end up staying only for the one-day match due to their other commitments.
Both schools have produced excellent cricketers who have been able to take their talents to the world stage. Among them are Bernard Perera, Marlon Von Hagt, Ruwan Kalpage, Piyal Wijetunga, Muthiah Muralitharan, and Sajith Fernando from St. Anthony’s and Kumar Sangakkara, Sachith Pathirana, Niroshan Dickwella, and Lahiru Kumara from Trinity.
Something special about the Trinity-Antonian big match is that it was never played for a win at any cost over the years. Both schools have always maintained a professional and courteous relationship. This indeed is a remarkable achievement for the two schools. Through this, they have been able to show what sports should stand for. The two schools have set an example to other schools over the last 100 years and will surely continue it. Old boys from all around the world flock to Kandy to support their alma mater, so the spirit of the game will always be preserved.
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