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Battle of the saints:

Down memory lane of joe-pete (1933-2004)

St. Joseph's College founded in 1896 by the first archbishop of Colombo Rev. Dr. Christopher Bonjean and the game which is known as the "Gentlemen's Game" Cricket was introduced to the College by its first Rector Rev. Fr. Charles Collins, an Englishman himself in the very first year of its inception.

However rev. Fr. Maurice J. Legoc, the fourth Rector and the last of the foreign Missionaries to guide St. Joseph's the founder Rector of St. Peter's College inaugurated this traditional "battle of the Saints" Cricket encounter on 23rd and 24th of February 1933.

This great Josephian Rector may have meant to see cricket could be played in the correct spirit, play the game hard, but fair and square on the field but enjoy cordial fellowship off it with a few exceptions.

Therefore let me "pen push"a few exciting memorable moments and some interesting finishes from the history of this prestigious "Battle of the Saints" encounter.

Starting the series with the first encounter which was played at St. Peter's grounds St. Joseph's were under Robert (Bobby) Fernando easily eclipsed St. Peter's by an innings and 105 runs.

However. St. Peter's stole the individual honours with Cyril Dias as hero and in today's parlance would have been awarded the man of the match award for his magnificent bowling performance of 9 for 64.

In comparison to the previous five years St. Joseph's did not possess a particularly strong team in 1933 since players in the Calibers of Willie Abeysekara, K.W. Devanayagam, D.S. Jayasundara, John Pulle and Noel De Costa had already bid audieu to school cricket.

In the second encounter following 1934, St. Joseph's were triumphant again but it must be mentioned for the Josephians that their team was packed with freshers but what freshers they have been! It was certainly the match of Fred Perera and David Arndt who were just 15 years of age!

This historic match was played at Darley road on 2nd and 3rd of March 1934. When Josephians were all at sea 143 for 81Fred Perera had joined David Arndt. Neither of Peterite bowlers were able to get the wickets of these two and the ninth wicket partnership has yielded 219 runs which is a record to-date.

Incidentally in the same match Fred Perera took a "Hat-trick" which is the sole hat trick of the series and the final result ended in favour of St. Joseph's who won by an innings and 202 runs. The champion Josephian team was led by Claude Wijesinghe.

In the year of 1940 St. Joseph's under Czerney Serpanchy defeated St. Peter's by 108 runs at Darley Road. The architect of this great Josephian victory was Douglas Muller, the right arm leg spinner who had a match bag of 10 for 60.

The 1942-43 years there had been no Joe-Pete since the break-out of World War II. However both in 1944 and 1945 St. Joseph's were worthy winners under the brilliant leadership of Malcom De Costa.

The years of 1946 and 1947 is something unique for the Preterite cricket history. They were admirably led by that great left arm paceman Dion Wallance where they won handsomely against Neil Weerasinghe's Jospehians and it was the first time that Petes tasted victory.

In 1946 they won by 07 wickets and the following year in a more glorious fashion by an innings and 19 runs. The year of 1948 was a sigh of relief for the Joseophians since they took sweet revenge from their arch rivals St. Peter's by defeating them in a thrilling encounter by seven runs at Sinhalese Sports Club grounds.

The Hero of the Josephian victory was skipper himself Joe De Mel who had match bag of 6 for 26 with his right arm medium paces.

In the year of 1952, St. Joseph's recorded the biggest victory in the series when they eclipsed the Peterites by an innings and 216 runs. This encounter the Seventeenth of the series; played at NCC grounds on 21st and 22nd of March 1952.

The Josephian openers Willie Wimalaratne and Maurie Wanigaratne put on 197 for the first wicket is still a record in the Joe-Pete and as well as a record in school cricket. The Joes amassed to 382 all out dismissed their opponents for a paltry 96 and 70 to record their biggest victory under Ken Serpanchy.

The year of 1954 saw the Preterite captain Clive Inman reaching the highest individual score of 204 retired hurt which still stands the highest individual score from either side. In 1955 once again the Peterites were under the captaincy of Clive Inman dethroned the Josephians under Mahinda De Silva by eight wickets.

The Chief wrecker the Peterite pace man Maurice Salgado who bagged a nine wicket haul for just 47 runs. The following year the Josephians took the field as "underdogs" under wicketkeeper-batsman Keerthi Caldera and turned the tables on Peterites led by Ken Duckworth with a superb 05 wicket win.

This match heralded the cricketing career of World class leg spinner Malcom Franke who after leaving St. Joseph's emigrated to Australia and represented Queensland from 1971 to 1980 and was the 12th man for Australia in 1974.

From 1956 to 1964 there were some interesting finishes which had been full of excitement. However no side was able to pull it off. In 1965 Travis Fernando's Peterites broke a ten-year old jinx when they defeated the Josephians by 06 wickets at Bambalapitiya. This was the last battle at St. Peter's grounds since then it was shifted to P. Saravanamuttu Stadium and R. Premadasa Stadium respectively.

The 33rd encounter of the "Battle of the Saints" series needs special mention. The match was once again took place on 31st March and 01st April 1967 at P. Sarawanamuttu Stadium. St. Joseph's took the first lease of the wicket and reached 145.

The Peterities responded by scoring 81. The Josephians enjoying a lead of 61 runs failed to capitalize on their position due to some intelligent bowling by Pete's skipper Tony Opatha and Denham Jurians who shared 7 wickets in the Josephian 2nd innings.

Set to make 164 to win the Peterities made it on the stroke of time but not to the satisfaction of the crowd who raised a hornets nest on the score board which has shown the wrong figures.

The crowd had by then surged on to the field at it was all over. However the match was very correctly awarded to St. Peter's since the Josephians conceded the game by souveniring the stumps.

The 36th encounter of the series will be long remembered by the Josephian skipper Hector Perera (Jnr) son of Hector perera (Snr) who led St. Joseph's in 1939. Joes batted second at P. Sarawanamuttu Stadium and ran up a total of 252 before declaring after the fall of 7th wicket.

Openers Rohan Fernando and Wendel Kelart both reached half a centuries each in majestic fashion. They were well supported by Garry Melder and Sri Lal Samarasekera who came in with some useful contributions. This was in response to the Peterite first innings total of 105. In the second innings Petes fared better scoring 164.

However it was the turning point of left arm paceman Rajive Benedict who ran through the Peterite innings with a match bag of 10 for 77. Joes had to get 18 runs and the openers reached the target without being separated thus, ending a 13-year old hoodoo. It was the 10th Victory for St. Joseph's in the series.

The year 1972 saw Josephians fielding a very formidable side led by opener Rohan Fernando. A prolific run scorer during that school season for the Darley Road school won the first battle in this 38th battle of the saints encounter by winning the toss against his rival captain Roy Dias.

The Josephians ran up a total of 235 for the loss of seven wickets. Fernando continued his superlative form which he carried during the school season by stroking an elegant 73. He was well supported by all rounder Garry Melder who scored a quick fine half century. When St. Peter's started their essay wickets fell at regular intervals and were bowled out for 112 in their first innings.

The peterite skipper Roy Dias was the top scorer who made 27. The bowling honours were shared by Rajiv Benedict, Chandana Fonseka and Rohan De S. Wijeratne. It was a daunting task for the Bambalapitiya school since they were asked to follow on.

Then came one of the outstanding bowling performance of left arm fast bowling when Rajive Benedict ran through the Preterite batting order by taking 8 wickets for 6 runs. His figures read 14.5-12-06-08. What more better a fast bowler could ask for!

The Preterites were bowled out for 36, the lowest score in the Joe-Pete series and once again Roy Dias was the lone crusader for Peterites by scoring 12. This result was Joes winning by an innings and 87 runs.

The preterites led by that outstanding left arm spinner Gamini Goonasena took sweet revenge with a six wicket win in the following year of 1973. St Peters was put into bat made 200 for the loss of 06 wickets which included an elegant 119 by Edgar Thevarayan. However Joes were bowled out for 100 and 161 respectively where fresher Geralnd Solomons of St. Peters took to match bag of 10 wickets for 60.

In the year of 1978 St. Peter's recorded their 7th Victory of the series by defeating St. Joseph's by 6 wickets at P. Sarawanamuttu Stadium. It was the sporty declaration by Josephian skipper Shamilal De S. Wijeratne setting Peterites a target of 187 in 40 overs. This was in fact the last decision of the Joe-Pete series.

As far as the last 26 years is concerned there had been no result except for some individual brilliance of Rohan Bultejens, Amal Silva, R. Ratnayake, Jayaweera Bandara, Dinesh Kekultota and M. Silva (St. Peters) Rohan Wijesinghe, (Snr), Nirmalal Perera, Hiran Cabraal, Dilen Ramanayake, Shinal Warnakula, Deshan Bastianpillai and Ian Daniel of (St. Joseph's).

Once again the big match fever is hooting up though great disaster shocked the whole Island last year.

The Josephians are enjoying one of their finest seasons under wicketkeeper-batsman Hashan Goonatillake and are optimistic of a victory.

Peterites too are not far behind this season under Prajeev Janze. Both captains will go in a positive frame of mind to end a 26 year old jinx. With the introduction of new format and if the weather gods permit another interesting battle is on the cards.










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