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Longest match ever

R.K. Radhakrishnan
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A different ball game altogether, something much more than cricket!

It was a game of cricket all right, and that too between two schools. But when the schools are named Royal and St. Thomas, two Colombo schools, the game changes. Suddenly it's much more than cricket. The rivalry between the two schools, called the Battle of the Blues, pre-dates the Ashes. Not even the two World Wars could stop the matches from happening. It is the longest uninterrupted school cricket match played anywhere in the world.

So when the 133rd edition of the famed Royal-Thomian rivalry was on at the Sinhala Sports Grounds here, from March 8 to 10, most old boys took off from work. Those abroad tried to synchronise their holidays with the match dates.

Even the Leader of the Opposition in the Sri Lankan Parliament, Ranil Wickramasinghe, was in attendance, duly wearing the colours and supporting his team. The man who almost snatched the leadership from Ranil, former President R. Premadasa's son, Sajith, was there too, and even tried his hand at a guitar.

Royal and St. Thomas also constitute the cradle of leadership in Sri Lanka. The schools have produced the most number of Prime Ministers of Sri Lanka. And, of course, the schools have traditionally contributed much to the country's cricket team.

The result? Of course, it was a tall scoring draw.

R.K. Radhakrishnan


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