Tuesday, 16 March 2004  
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The Centenary 'Battle of the North'

The Northern Province is preparing itself in a grand scale to have the centenary match between St. John's and Jaffna Central popularly known as the 'Battle of the North' from March 18 to 20 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 Colombo to make this event a success.

In addition to this centenary match St. John's is also celebrating the following events: centenary year of the OBA, Jaffna and South Colombo, centenary of the college magazine, centenary of the 'Big Match', centenary dinner, So it is a triple centenary celebration.

The St. John's College, Jaffan OBA (Colombo) is very busy with a tight schedule in organising these events. This centenary match has attracted renowned sponsors like Singer Sri Lanka, LG Abans and Janashakthi Insurance Ltd.

The 50-over one day match is fixed for March 25. St. John's College, Jaffna OBA is expecting its faithful old boys from USA, UK, New Zealand, Australia and Canada to attend these functions.

Although St. John's College was founded in 1823, the cricketing ties between these schools started in 1904 and up to now. St. John's has won 32, Jaffna Central has won 22 with 34 draws while 8 games have ended sans a result.

However due to conditions beyond our control few matches were not played during the years 1948, 1961, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1996, 1997 while 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 centenary match is very vital for them. In contrast since Jaffna Central won the inaugural match no 1904, they will go all out to win the centenary match. 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, the first Big Match in 1904 was captained by P.S. Hallock for SJC while L.R. Alexander led the JCC team. S.K. Mahalingam captained the 50th year match for SJC while S.R. Kanagalingam led the JCC team. It is with pride to mention the name of Dr. C. Balakrishnan who captained St. John's in 1960 and 61, later represented Sri Lanka then Ceylon 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 Burghers who captained St. John's were F. Van Cuylenberg in 1906, H.K. Vandendriesen in 1926. T. Vandendrisen in 1936 and 1937. The only Muslim to captain St. John's was M.Y.A. Fowzan in 1978.

For Jaffna Central, the only Burgher who captained was Bunny Vantwest in 1957. Muslims captained Central, namely are T.M.S. Mahamood in 1930, E.R.S. Jacob in 1941, M.S. Nazeer in 1973.

The best bowling figures in a single inning for both teams were in 1960, where A.J. Somanandar of St. John's captured 8 for 18. While A.B. Segarajasingam captured 8 for 22 for JCC. Jaffna Central won this low scoring match.

These details were taken from the souvenir published in 2003 by schools. We are unable to produce the score sheets of the inaugural match in 1904 due to records destroyed.

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