Kingswood’s Cricket has been a sufferer for the past 3 seasons. The 2008 season under Anuradha Hettige was the last “okay” outing we have had. To leave aside flattery, last year was disastrous. While losing outright on at least 4 outings, we almost came close to yielding Dharmaraja a long-illusive “Big Match” win.
From what I read in the news, this season’s First XI is not any better. Just a fortnight ago, we lost outright to Trinity (Trinity, in fact, is going great guns, winning 4/4 outings this season, todate. Last week they recorded a historic win against Cricket giants Nalanda). You may recall that we were humiliated by the same opposition who handed us the same result last year as well. Scorecards reported in the newspapers tell me that Kingswood can neither bat nor bowl — poverty-stricken scores and heavy tolling by the opposition.
What has become of Kingswood cricket?
I happen to chance on a former captain — a noteworthy stocky left hander of yesteryear — not too long ago. This was between the seasons, but the horror of the last season was still fresh in both our minds. The old boy in question was, too, appalled by the failing standards of the game. He highlighted the lack of infrastructure and the over-emphasis on rugby as the causes for the downfall of many sports at Kingswood — including Cricket.
Not that Cricket has been Kingswood’s strength, in the years I have known the school. But, to my mind, we had respected teams and near-outstanding Cricketers coming out of it. We had “in-school” stars who lived up to their stardom. Some of the Cricketers I vividly remember to this day include Dharshana Kalansuriya (1992), Suvanji Madanayake (1991; still playing for a Services Team), Dayal Dharmaprema, the Gamage Brothers, Sapumal Karunaratne, Buddhika Ekanayake and Nisitha Rupasinghe.
During my days as a senior student there were many players with promise, though they fell beneath their potential. Players such as Ariyadasa, Milinda Wattegedara, Indika and Kasun Senarathne, Niroshan Perera were all marked players during their stay on the field.
“At least we didn’t lose outright, like we do today” is what one of my cousins, who had had his fill in the First XI, says. Indeed — guys like Ariyadasa, Gihan Gunathilake and all didn’t have superhuman teams. But, their game plans and strategies saw the team holding on with dedication — which, in fact, stimulated the odd positive every now and again. I recall Samudu Wijesinghe captaining the team in 2004. His was a fairly average XI, also marred by internal disunion. However, on the day, they stuck to their guns and inspired an unlikely 2 run win in the One Dayer against the Rajans.
But, the team of 2009 (and, from what I hear, of 2010/011 as well) showed signs of total disarray and lack of planning. What a member of that 2009/010 team told me a week after last year’s ‘Big Match’ was shattering: “We don’t even have 11 guys to make the team”. He further prophesied that “next year (2010/011) it’s gonna be worse”. In 2010 what we saw was a Kingswood team that couldn’t hit the ball outside the 30 yard circle. The batting was totally dependent on 2-3 players. The chief scorer last year — Imesh K Rabel — is a boxer, by his first choice. And the top season score last year was 86.
This year, too, signs are bleak. Of course, the season is still young and time is on the XI’s side. The team is led by Y. Athukorala — the gritty bat who put up a stiff resistance against the Rajans last year, to avoid hard-staring defeat. They will, however, have to boost up a striking bowling line up, which is sadly lacking as things are.
At the level of administration, it is appalling that things could get this worse without many people noticing them. A continuous 3 year slump cannot be taken lightly; or be passed around as ‘by the way’.
The dejection of the Kingswood sports fan is summed up in the fact that — out of sheer despair — some of us hoped for a Rajan victory, on the final day of the 2010 Big Match.