by Richard Dwight - Daily News, Wed Mar 12, 2003
We have heard many speak of the glorious uncertainties of cricket and the exhilarating feelings that accompany it.
Some have even experienced it, at one time or other, but never in the last decade have we witnessed this truism manifest itself, as it did at the 113th Battle of the Blues, played at the Sara Stadium in 1992.
This truth, was driven home with stunning reality to those who were privileged to be there. We are being so emphatic about this, simply because Royal College batting quite our of character, fell for a meagre score of 145 and the foundation was laid for a Thomian victory, through debut maker medium pacer Duminda de Silva, who claiming five wickets, was responsible for Royal's first innings dismissal and, the century scored by opener Manoj Mendis, enabled S. Thomas' to get up to a formidable score of 328 for 9 dec.
The Royalists being led by 183 runs in the first innings were 53 for 4 at the close of the second day, and everything naturally pointed to an early Thomian victory. Really, when Saturday came, there were those, who told their wives not to make anything for tea, just something for lunch would do, or forget the lunch as well. When questioned, as to whether they were that sure? Yes, the match will probably be over before lunch, and we will join in the fun, at the Mustang tent, together with the Royalists, singing those old perennial favourites, shedding nostalgic tears of joy.
That was the hope, the thinking of many and to confirm this, the Royalist lost another wicket quickly, moments after play began and the scoreboard read 68 for 5.
The Royalists had slipped, deep into the miry pit of defeat and had almost reached the point of no return. Through the excitement that prevailed, some of us forgot that a match, is neither lost or won, until the last ball is bowled, nor did we pause, to give thought to the fact, that the stage was being set for a hero to emerge, and emerge he did, in the nature and form of Gamini Perera.
The left hander, fighting against the run of play, from a back to the wall position, fought his way valiantly with disdain and utter confidence and forged ahead to crack 144 runs, enabling the Royalists, not only to wipe out the deficit of 183 runs, but also to set the Thomians an unachievable target of 168 runs in 14 overs and bad light to contend with. History has it that the game ended in a draw, after the Thomians in a token gesture, batting for just 3.5 overs to be a 6 for 1.
It must be said, that the Thomian skipper, Suresh Goonesekera did everything he possibly could to dis-lodge Perera and the remaining four Royalists within a reasonable length of time, but they simply went on, to be all out at 351. He had the pacies in different spells, the pace-spin at one time, the double spin attack at another, and he shuffled them around, and as a last resort, he even thought of buying a few wickets by Gimantha Jayasinghe and himself lobbing a few balls expecting something to happen, but nothing did - memory prompts, that a chance to stump, which proved expensive later on, was missed, ah! But that's cricket which makes the game live on.
Both teams were equally matched and neither side deserved to lose and it was cricket that finally triumphed.
It was indeed an absorbing three days of cricket and it is encounters like this, that makes cricket worth watching and, school boys in the process, are moulded to become the gentlemen of tomorrow. May the 124th Battle of the Blues rise to even greater heights, so that those who come to witness it, will carry away happy memories. To put it in commentators lingo, lets move over to the SSC to pick up play as it begins.