Sydney’s ‘Royal Thomian’ – The Tradition Lives On!

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By The Committee, STCOBANSW/ACT

On Australia Day, the sun shone brightly down on Sydney, a perfect public holiday. The teams donned their college cricket uniforms, gathered at the Punchbowl Oval, for an early morning breakfast readying themselves for the annual 28th Royal Thomian Opens, Masters and Classics encounters. This year STC OBA hosted the Annual NSW Royal Thomian Cricket Carnival with the planning done in close association with RC.

The Games featured three limited overs matches;

Classics (limited to those over 60 years) for the Sunil De Silva trophy

Masters (limited to those over 50 years) for the Morrel trophy

Open (to the best that each school is able to field) for the EC Gunasekaran Trophy

For weeks prior to the game, the teams had gone through challenges in preparations to get the teams together. It was the usual unforeseen trouble as soon as we started hearing Machang “Knee issue”, Machang “back is gone” and “long covid issues” etc. However, finally, in the 11th hour, with a few adjustments and ‘exceptions’ the teams were ready for battle.

The first to go in was the Classics game. The proceeding is explained by Kamal, the STC Captain in his match report, as follows, “For the second successive year I lost the toss and STC were put into bat. My preference, had I won the toss, was to bowl first. Despite this setback, our
batters were superb. They took us to 144 for 6 (of which 2 were retired out). Stanley opened the innings and played some beautiful shots all-round the wicket.
After he retired, Jerome anchored the batting and was totally untroubled by the bowling, placing his shots with elegance and ease. Reshanka, Lasa, Chitral, Eksath, Praha and Mahinda stroked the ball with confidence and moved the score along without any drama. Lasa, nursing a niggle, showed flashes of the form he is capable of, in his 24. Equally pleasing was Reshanka’s stint as opener with 18 in a stand of 52. Eksath’s unbeaten 15 at the end capped a good team batting effort.144 was a good score.
Royal opened with their best batters and started aggressively. Towards the halfway point we pulled them back to the point that they were feeling the pressure. Finally, though, their batting depth and our inability to bowl good lines saw them through in the 29th over. Jerome bowled to his field to get 2/17 and Kalinga, a first-time bowler had excellent figures of 1/11 in 3 overs including a maiden. In general, our bowlers showed the need for more practice, often bowling on both sides of the wicket and conceding unnecessary runs.
Our fielding certainly did not lack for application. In an over 60s team it is not unusual for the spirit to be willing and the flesh to be somewhat spongy. So it was a pleasant surprise to see Indrajit take two well-judged catches, Mahinda’s diving efforts at point, Praha’s brave effort to stop a well hit cover drive and in general players getting some part of their anatomy behind the ball wherever possible. This level of determination is commendable.
Finally, thanks to our team for the spirited effort they put in. A special thanks to Indrajith for being 12th man and putting in a dynamic 20 over stint in the field. Also, a big thank you to Eksath for coordinating the team selections amongst so many last-minute changes
The game was played in the best spirit of the Royal Thomian tradition. Congratulations to the Royal Classics team on their win”

Next to go in was the Masters game, played back to back on the same grounds. Jeeva Paski the STC Captain explained the game in the following way “ The Game day, we won the toss and elected to bat. The plan was to score 150 and put scoreboard pressure. The Royalist however had conflicting plans. Their plans were along the lines of getting 10 wickets, restrict STC for under 100 etc. We ended up with 105 all out with Jeeva leading the way with a 33 retired.

Sadly, with 4 or so overs to spare aided by some, let’s say “interesting” umpiring decisions not going our way, we folded. All out. Swings and merry-go-rounds they said. We just saw merry-go-rounds that day, no swing. But as they say, that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Buy a drink and ask Ritchie, he has a whole thesis on it. It didn’t help when the Royalist mentioned they knew some of the wickets were NOT OUT but didn’t think it was a good idea to call the batsman back. Such is the friendship between the teams.
The team was very confident that we can get the Royalist early. What we also chose to ignore was 7 of the 12 in the Royal team play regular cricket week in, week out. We had 2. Royal batted with composure and discipline. They put the bad ball away and were looking very settled till Dushan pulled off a stunner off Ritchie. Looking at it from a wicket keeper position, it looked like Dushan stuck out his hand to catch the ball fearing he’d have to chase it if he missed it and ended up taking a one-handed diving catch. Our joy was short lived with David Selvan and Praba Siva putting together a partnership that would eventually be the difference. They set up the platform for the rest of them to build on. It was clinical batting performance. Praba retired at 32 and David Selva also retired in the end.
STC fought and made it as hard as possible, but the was not to be. Some late wickets stretched it out to the 28th over, but the horse had bolted by then.
We couldn’t fault the commitment from the STC team. Jeeva played the whole game with a torn hamstring and is still in bed as this report is being written. Don fell face down in the middle of the pitch while taking a quick single, but still scrambling on all fours with a bloodied elbow and knee to make the run for the team. Dushan’s spectacular catch, Kule’s cameo 6..4..4. Ritchie bowling the full quota of 5 overs with a shoulder injury. Darnley, after being in a fatal position with calf cramp pain and then within seconds ready to continue fielding and keeping. Indy, Gassy and Chitral for backing up and playing two games back-to-back in the scorching heat, were all shows of commitment bar none.

The main ‘show piece’ Opens game was on the picturesque turf wicket grounds. STC Captain Ruwan Gunasinghe made his match report on the game.

“The toss was won by Royal college and they choose to bowl in a very slow and turning pitch. Thomian innings started slow with very consistent bowling attack. At the 20 over mark the Thomians were 54/1 in a good position to post a challenging score with wickets in hand. In the 23rd over opener Daniel Jasuthasen fell for 32 runs and the next batsman only lasted 2 balls to bring the captain to the crease at 58 for 3. Royal spinners were well in command bowling a good line and length using the slow turning pitch to the best of their ability. Ruwan and Sean put on 45 runs for the 4th wicket but wasn’t able to capitalise on the partnership both getting out in the conservative balls. Thomians only managed to get 134-9 at the end of 40 overs.
Needing 134 runs to win Royal openers came out attacking with 16 runs after 3 overs putting pressure on the opening bowlers. David Senathirajah was able to take 2 wickets in the same over, sending back the opener Yathees Ruben for 6 runs and Lalin De Silva out for a duck. The Thomian captain then brought in spinners from both ends to capitalise on the slow turning wicket. With good spin bowling by Sean Gunasekara, Daniel Jasuthasen and Amila Wijaydasa, Royalist were struggling to make runs. The bowlers were well backed up by great fielding leaving them to take additional risks to chase down this small total. At the innings break Royalist were 45 for 5. Amila Wijaydasa 4-9 and Daniel Jasuthasen 3-9 went on to rip through the Royal batting line up, bowling them out for 54 runs.
Thomians won convincingly by 80 runs winning back-to-back games after last year’s victory.

The closing ceremony was conducted and emceed by Thomian Kumar Rasiah.
Being Australia Day, this was highlighted by several speakers during the closing awards ceremony and in the Welcome to Country. The awards ceremony was opened by singing the National Anthem.

Kumar in introducing the Chief Guest Thomian Jimmy Bultjens was thorough with references to his significant accomplishments as a professional, and in particular his role in the initial formation of the STC OBA NSW/ACT.

It was a great privilege to host Jimmy and Maeve. They arrived early and mingled with the spectators catching up with friends and relatives who were present from both schools.

Jimmy made a memorable speech prior to handing out the awards. True to his calling, Jimmy spoke about how important it is for us to be mindful of those who are less well off than we are. He highlighted the need for us to be conscious of our indigenous communities and people with disabilities. Jimmy spoke of the great traditions that both schools have built up over the years and how important it was for each of us to honour them in all we do.

Both Presidents of the OBA’s, Thaya Ponniah, RCOBA and Sanjiv Vivekanandan, STCOBA in their speeches, thanked all who were responsible for organizing the event, in particular Rajeeva de Alwis, V President of STCOBA and David Selvan, the Sports Coordinator of RCOBA.

The event was concluded with great dignity. It commenced on the right note by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land and the past Presidents from both schools. Everyone was in sync with the meaning and the cliché in that the ‘result was less important than the game and the spirit in which it was played’. One Senior Thomian commented that, “we wish more old boys from both school’s resident in Australia could experience the manner in which the formalities were conducted. It was very proper and professional”.

The College anthems of both schools were sung with passionate gusto soon after the individual trophies and the challenge shield were handed over by the Chief Guest.

Special mention must be made of the delicious large cakes that Les’s wife Chelvi had made for us to share because no Sri Lankan event is complete without cake of course!

We look forward to the 29th RoyTho on the 26th January 2024.

The Committee, STCOBANSW/ACT

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