Cricket in Sri Lanka during the good old days
Cricket was introduced to Sr Lanka when we were colonized by the
English. According to history, the first cricket match took place in
1832. At that time we were known as Ceylon. Cricket came under the
influence of the Europeans and control after Dutch colonists arrived in
the 17th century; although the interior hilly region of the country
remained independent for over a century with Kandy as its capital.
In October 1832, a cricket club was formed, called The Colombo
Cricket Ivo Bligh's team played an odds game in Colombo on there tour to
Australia, where they "recovered the Ashes".
In 1888-89, an English team led by George Vernon toured Ceylon and
India, including an 11-a-side game against All-Ceylon in Kandy at
Bogambara. In 1890, the Australian team on there way to England played
in Colombo. First-class cricket in Ceylon became famous, due to touring
teams, notably the English and Australian teams who used Ceylon as a
stopover on the long voyage to each other's country, they use to travel
Douglas Jardine's infamous "bodyline team" was in Ceylon in 1932-33.
Occasionally, teams representative of Ceylon played matches abroad,
especially in India.
From 1953-4 until 1975-6, the Ceylon Cricket Association played
regular matches against Madras (latterly renamed Tamil Nadu) now called
Chenai for the Gopalan Trophy. This fixture was played in Colombo
roughly every two years, with one further fixture in 1982-3, alternating
with the fixture being held in Madras. Throughout the 20th century, the
game became increasingly popular in Sri Lank.
Sri Lanka won the ICC Trophy in 1979, and on July 21, 1981, Sri Lanka
got the green light, and was admitted to full membership of the ICC and
was awarded Test Match status.
In early days, several Australian teams stopped here and played
matches in Ceylon while traveling to England and back. In the aftermath
of World War II, came the Australian Services cricket team to Ceylon and
India in 1945-46, featuring Keith Miller who scored a century in
Miller returned as part of the Australian cricket team to England in
1948 which played a game in Colombo during a stopover on their way to
England. It was not until 1969-70 that another Australian team landed in
This team played one game against the Ceylon team before going to
India for a five-Test series. Ceylon was renamed Sri Lanka in 1972. The
1981 Australians to England played a match in Colombo against Sri Lanka
only months before Sri Lanka achieved Test status.
England - by 1911, had five English teams in Ceylon. Those were led
by Ivo Bligh in 1882-83; George Vernon in 1889-90; WG Grace in 1891-92;
Lord Hawke in 1892-93; and Andrew Stoddart in 1894-95.
The Bligh, Grace and Stoddart teams were en route to Australia while
the Vernon and Hawke ventures took in Ceylon as part of visits to India.
Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) teams have visited on no less than 23
occasions since 1911-22. Other teams who visited from England were Sir
Julien Cahn's XI in Ceylon in 1936-37, D. H Robins' team in 1977-78 and
English cricket team in India in 1984-85. India - there first team to
step into the country for cricket, was Elphinstone College, Bombay, in
1945 The Indian national team visited Ceylon in April 1945 and played
one first-class match against Ceylon at the P Sara Stadium .The match
ended in a draw due to bad weather. India's team was a strong, led by
Vijay Merchant, which team had players like Shute Banerjee, Mushtaq Ali,
Lala Amarnath, Vijay Hazare and Rusi Modi.
In 1956-57 India visited Ceylon in 1956 and played two international
matches versus Ceylon at the P.Sara Stadium.
First match was drawn, and the second too ended in a draw. The
Indians were led by Polly Umrigar and included Nari Contractor, Subhash
Gupte, Pankaj Roy, A. G. Kripal Singh and Vijay Manjrekar. 1973-74 India
toured again played two first-class and two limited overs matches versus
Sri Lanka and two further first-class matches versus the Sri Lanka Board
India defeated Sri Lanka at SSC by 6 wickets but the other three
first-class games were impacted by the weather and were drawn. New
Zealand made a trip in 1937, and made 227 for 8 wickets with De Saram
top scoring with a typical brick by brick innings of 90. Douglas Dias
Jayasinha was the first man from the Southern Province to play for All
Ceylon who was an opening batsman was held back by S. Saravanamuttu the
skipper, who felt it was too much of a gamble to risk sending the young
man in, that early.
He was a free scoring batsman at the time and since there was
overnight rain on the SSC grounds they wanted a more sedate start than
what D.D. promised.
This they got through George Hubert and Louis Mendis. Eventually
Jayasinha made his way to the wicket at the fall of the fifth wicket and
made a patient yet uncharacteristic 24 runs in 45 minutes to help
Derrick de Saram at the other end towards his mammoth individual score.
In reply, New Zealand made 177 for 5 wickets with Vivien 68 not out and
Walter Hadlee, father of Richard, himself making 18. That team also
consisted of such well-known names as Martin Donnelly and Mervyn
Wallace, all of whom had done so well in England just a few weeks
In 1984-85 New Zealand played two limited overs internationals versus
Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka won the first match by 4 wickets and New Zealand
won the second by 7 wickets.
The Pakistan cricket team visited Ceylon in April 1949 to play two
first-class matches versus Ceylon. Both games were played at the P. Sara
Staidum, Pakistan led by Mohammad Saeed, won the first match by an
innings and 192 runs, Saeed himself top-scoring with 93. The great
Pakistan bowler Fazal Mahmood took 4-15 as Ceylon were bowled out for
only 95 in their second innings. Pakistan won the second match by 10
wickets despite some good batting by Ceylon in their first innings.
In 1972-73, Pakistan visited Sri Lanka once again in November 1972 to
play a single first-class match versus the Sri Lanka national team at P.
Sara Stadium. The match was drawn after being affected by rain.
Pakistan, captained by Intikhab Alam, The went on to score 262 for 8 and
48 for 3 declared in both innings.
Sri Lanka scored 133 and 120-3. Then in 1975-76 Pakistan toured Sri
Lanka in January 1976 to play three first-class and two limited overs
matches. Sri Lanka surprisingly won the opening first-class match at CCC
by 4 wickets and then Pakistan won the second match at the same venue by
the same margin.
In between, Pakistan played the Sri Lanka Board President's XI at
Asgiriya Stadium in Kandy and they won this by 7 wickets. 1978-79
Pakistan, captained by Majid Khan, visited Sri Lanka in April 1979 to
play a limited overs match versus the Sri Lanka national team. The match
at P. Sara Stadium went in favor of Pakistan by 55 runs after scoring
164-8 in their 40 overs. Sri Lanka in reply could only manage 109-8.
West Indies 1948-49 The West Indies cricket team visited Ceylon in
February 1949 and played two first-class matches versus Ceylon.
West Indies won the first match at P. Sara Stadium by an innings and
22 runs after scoring 462-2 declared with centuries by Allan Rae,
Everton Weekes and Clyde Walcott. Prior Jones took ten wickets in the
match. The second match at the same venue was drawn, Rae making another
century for West Indies.
1966-67 West Indies visited Ceylon in January 1967 and played a
single first-class match at P. Sara Stadium againstCeylon. The match was
West Indies was captained by Gary Sobers who scored 115 in his team's
only innings. Other centuries were scored by Basil Butcher and Clive
In 1974-75 West Indies visited Sri Lanka in February 1975 as part of
a wider tour of India and Pakistan. Captained by Clive Lloyd, West
Indies played two first-class matches against Sri Lanka, that were both
drawn, and a limited overs match that West Indies won by 8 wickets.
In 1978-79 West Indies visited Sri Lanka in February 1979. The main
first-class match with Sri Lanka at Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Stadium in
Colombo was drawn. West Indies had previously drawn a warm-up game
against Sri Lanka Board President's XI at Colombo Cricket Club Ground.
West Indies also played three limited overs matches. Zimbabwe 1983-84
The Zimbabwe national cricket team toured Sri Lanka in December 1983. At
this time, Sri Lanka had just achieved Test status but Zimbabwe had not.
The Zimbabwe team played two first-class matches versus Sri Lanka Board
President's XI at Tyronne Fernando Stadium and a Sri Lankan XI at
Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Stadium. Both games were drawn. Zimbabwe also
played three limited over's matches against Sri Lanka.