Cruncher on the Cards, If Weather Holds: Kingswood-Dharmaraja 111th Encounter

Kandy looks all set for a washout this weekend, with hit-and-run evening rains persisting all week, as Kingswood and Dharmaraja take a hike to Pallekele on the 17th and 18th – Friday and Saturday – to which has been their Big Match spot for the past seven years. If the Trinity-Anthonian last week is an indicator, the Man of the Match is set to be the weathercock; but, let us not be too cynical and pessimistic; as Cricket has always proven, and amply too, that it is an unpredictable game where bookies don’t operate.

Clearly, no bookie would dare operate too lightly, as Avishka Chandrasiri will lead the Kingswoodians against Deshan Gunasinghe’s Dharmaraja for the 111th time of the series that runs way back to 1893. There has been a lot of talk about “healthy rivalry” in an age of “enforced sportsmanship”, but Kingswood and Dharmaraja would love to resume business from where the party was left off last year, at this same venue; where Kingswood playing as a badly badgered underdog pulled out a sensational “first innings win” even after the media had earlier written them off as easy meat. To prove a point, they then staged one of the most scintillating run chases a Kingswood-Dharmaraja Limited Overs encounter had seen in the past 30 years, upsetting all cards in the game by snatching a last ball win against their fancied opponent.

When the two teams hit the deck tomorrow (17th), Gunasinghe’s Rajan XI will be playing to regain the tainted pride, and Kingswood will be padding themselves up to move from strength to strength on the foundation they had laid last year. The atmosphere off the field is equally energized, with boosted spectator interest and various parallel showcasing like customized profile picture engineers to “support your team”,  theme songs and such. The vehicle parade — something we on principle oppose and condemn — planned to coincide with the Limited Overs game will also add to the side-thrills of the game, for people interested in that kind of inconvenience.

Kingswood is returning into reasonable and competitive Cricket after 5 long years in the kitchen of Hell. Between 2011 and 2015, Kingswood Cricket had nothing to show but a pathetic Zimbabwean record, and was trounced by the Rajans in 4 out of 5 Big Matches. In fact, the Dharmaraja attitude was always too competitive and fierce for the Kingswoodians, who were intimidated at every level of the game. The Rajan game plan in every match they won was to put a score on the board by batting two sessions, and to get Kingswood out twice in the remaining four sessions of play. This plan succeeded, except once, indicating how feeble Kingswood was as an opposition. Ruwantha Hathurusinghe’s team last year, not only upset this script with which the Rajans entered the game, but also managed to hold their nerve to outwit their more stronger opponent on all 3 days of Cricket. Surely, coach Indika Fernando had done the right mental and attitudinal adjustments along with other matters of technique and skill.

The Kingswood-Rajan encounter is bandied as the “Battle of the Hill Country Maroons”, and it is also considered the oldest of Big Matches in the Hill Capital. In numbers, it is also considered by many as the third oldest of Big Matches, after the Roy-Tho, and the “Battle of Ruhuna”, between St. Thomas’ and St. Servatius’ Colleges, Matara. The series has been a Dharmaraja-dominated one, with a 35-19 lead in 110 outings. According to the Ancients, the first game between the two teams has been in 1893, the Rajans being led by their then Head Master D.B (later, Sir D.B) Jayathilake. Kingswood had been skippered by Louis Blaze’s confidante and deputy, Ernest Handscombe Spencer: a livewire in many of Kingswood’s early activities, complete with his handle-bar musto (In many articles, and news reports – which seem to copy one another virally – Spencer is referred to as “A.E Spencer”; whereas, the initials should stand as “E.H”). Regular “boys only” games had commenced in 1899, and there have been interruptions by wars, floods and famines (unlike, they say, the Royal-Thomian that had gone on uninterrupted irrespective of politics and global plight, which is frankly a bit disturbing).

Ernest Handscombe Spencer

For Kingswood, the Big Match has been an El Dorado since 1958, when they for the last time in the series managed to, under the captaincy of Maurice Fernando, defeat the Rajans. Dharmaraja’s last win was in 2015; the last of those fatal five years for Kingswood Cricket.  With the teams being more even, the Rajans can enter the game with a level-headed approach, deviod of the hype and banter which was sky high in 2016, where Facebook culture had already declared the Rajans victors even before a single ball had been bowled. Even the generally Dharmaraja-biased sportswriter from Kandy, Dharmaraja’s former Cricketer Upananda Jayasundara, was felt to be a bit more biased than usual in writing ahead of last year’s Big Match, as the smacking Kingswood has been getting for 5 years had made their players, supporters and news reporters giddy alike. With that monkey off the back, the Rajans can tackle the “old foe” on merit, and without unnecessarily undermining him.

Sir D.B Jayathilaka

On another not entirely unrelated note, this year, both teams go into the game under two new heralds at the top — Dharmaraja’s D.M.T.P Wanasinghe, and Kingswood’s R.D.M.P Weerathunga, who are both settling down into their offices as Principals of their respective institutes. The Principals’ attitudes will be very crucial and will be reflected by the schools’ approach to the game, both on and off the field. Since late, there has been brought into the Kingswood- Dharmaraja encounter an “imitation culture”, where Prefects – specially – move about in their “cowboy hats”, taking time off from their traditional duties to “sizzle the dance floor”, swaying to the DJ and so on. While some schools have Prefects who wear hats and jive, Kingswood’s Prefects Court culture has often known to have their duty dared not flee, at the risk of heavy cost. The present Senior Prefect and Scribes come across as critical-minded chaps, and one has to see whether some of these “ugly scenes” from previous years will be trashed, and dignity restored to the office of Prefect.

Except for the odd incident, the Kingswood-Dharmaraja encounter, in recent years, is an event-free two days of sportsmanship both on and off the field. With the generosity of that great spoiler – Rain – what is on the cards is a gripping contest between what on paper is the most evenly poised Kingswood and Dharmaraja XIs in, maybe, 7 or 8 years. Everything falling into place, it would by all means be for Kingswood a matter of fide et virtute; and for Dharmaraja, two adrenaline pumping days of අත්තාහි අත්තනෝ නාථෝ.




Kingswood Retains the de Lanerolle Trophy, 2015

Kingswood College won the 11th KM de Lanerolle Memorial Debate Tournament conducted by the school’s Past Debaters, a few weeks ago. In the final of the tournament they defeated Hillwood College, amidst a small, homely crowd at Randles’ Hill. Thus, Kingswood defended the title they won last year and recorded their 5th overall win in the series. The debate was evenly matched and was presided by Past Kingswoodian and well respected cinematographer, Mr. Vishnu Vasu.

Kingswood began the tournament on the back foot, receiving a walkover from Good Shepherd Convent. They won against St. Anthony’s in the semis, but undoubtedly their best came in the final against the Hillwood team, who showed much class and promise throughout the tournament. In fact, Hillwood’s semi final against Girls’ High School was one of the strongest debates seen in recent years. It was as close as a debate could get where exchanges were concerned. Girls’ High School eventually won the Third place of the tournament.

The Kingswood Debate team. Copyrights of 'Flashing Youth' and Sajeer Aslam acknowledged.
The Kingswood Debate team.
Copyrights of ‘Flashing Youth’ and Sajeer Aslam acknowledged.

The presence of Hillwood Deputy Principal Ms. Nelum De Alwis (even without a special invite of sorts) was very encouraging and highly appreciated by the home boys. The administration of Kingswood was represented by the Deputy Principal Mr. Herath, though invitations were extended to other parties as well.

From a Kingswood perspective, the team showed appreciable maturity and a ‘peaking’ of working together as a team for two years. This was their third triumph in three tournaments, and their second against Hillwood in two outings.

Hillwood College, with years ahead of them, was probably the “fire-cracker” of the tournament, showing tremendous growth over the past year or so. The team is well balanced and shows much intent and promise for the year to come. Girls’ High School, too, fielded a tested formation, who have been debating together for the past two years or so; and their semi final loss came for no fault of theirs: clearly, they were trumped by the better team on the day, in a debate that could have gone either way.

The best positive of the tournament, however, was the return of a very young St. Anthony’s team, whose debating has been a bit shaky over the past decade or so. This team showed much commitment and flair, and hinted at positives that await us in the next year or two, from the Katugastota school. The semi final berth they had at the tournament was yet SACK’s best performance at the de Lanerolle series.

The Kingswood team: Bihan Viranga De Silva (Cpt), Gowthaman Nallaretnam, Abdul Azeez, Shakir Siddeek.

The Prize List at a glance:

  1. The KM de Lanerolle Trophy and the Spencer Challenge Shield (Overall Winner): Kingswood College.
  2. The PH Nonis Memorial Trophy (Runner Up): Hillwood College.
  3. The Utting Memorial Trophy (Third Place): Girls’ High School.
  4. Best Speaker (VD Paulraj Memorial Prize): Bindya Bandare, Hillwood College.
  5. Best Fourth Speaker: Nushara Amarasekara, Girls’ High School.
  6. Best Speaker of the Old Boys vs Kingswood debate: Bihan Viranga De Silva, Kingswood.

ඉතිහාසය ගොනු කිරීමේ දී වඩා සුපරික්ෂාකාරී වීමේ අවශ්‍යතාවය

WP_20150711_15_11_40_Pro(1)මෙම ඡායාරූපය මෑතක දී කාලීන කරන ලද විදුහලේ ශිෂ්‍ය නායක නාමාවලියේ එකක් වන අතර කිංස්වුඩ් මැටර්ස් වෙත නිතරම කරුණු සපයන අපගේ ආදි ශිෂ්‍යයෙක් විසින් මෑතකදී ගත්තකි. මෙවන් නාමාවලියන් විදුහලේ ඉතිහාසය, අඛණ්ඩත්වය හා සම්ප්‍රදාය හා තදින්ම සම්බන්ධ බැවින් මෙම කාලීන කිරීමේ ප්‍රයත්නය ඉතා ඉහලින් අගය කරමු. මීට ප්‍රධානම හේතුව වන්නේ මෙවන් ලේඛන අඛණ්ඩව හා විධිමත්ව පවත්වාගෙන යාමේදී විදුහල තරමක් මැලි බවක් දක්වා තිබීමයි. ශිෂ්‍ය නායකයින්ගේ නාමාවලිය කාලීන කිරීමෙන් පමණක් නොනැවතී ඉතිරි ලේඛනයන්ද ක්‍රම ක්‍රමයෙන් විධිමත් කෙරෙනු ඇතැයි යන්න අපගේ බලාපොරොත්තුවයි.

සාමාන්‍යයෙන් අප දකින්නේ ආදි ශිෂ්‍ය සංගමයේ සභාපති සහ ලේකම් යන තනතුරු අඩු වැඩි නැතිව නිරතුරුවම විධිමත් කෙරී ඇති තත්වයකි. නමුත් ක්‍රීඩා නායකයින්ගේ නම් ආදියට එම භාග්‍යය හිමි වී නැත. මීට හේතුව කිංස්වුඩ් විදුහලේ පේන්ට් අහේනියක් පැවතීම විය නොහැක. තම සංගම් තනතුරු තානාන්තර ගැන සදහන් කරන අතරම මතු පරපුරෙහි දැන ගැනීම පිණිස එයටත් වඩා ඉතිහාසගත වටිනාකමක් ඇතැයි තර්ක කල හැකි ක්‍රීඩා ආදිය සම්බන්ධ නාමලේඛන ද සකසුරුවම් කිරීම බලවත් තැන්වල සිටින ආදි ශිෂ්‍ය මහතුන්ට පහසුවෙන්ම කල හැක.

ශිෂ්‍ය නායක නාමාවලියේ පහත සදහන් ගැටලු හදුනාගත හැක. කාලාන්තරයක් තිස්සේ කරුණු විධිමත් නොකිරීම නිසා දුර්මතයන් මෙන්ම සංදිග්ධතාවයන්ද මතු වීම ස්වභාවිකයි. එම ගැටලුකාරී අවස්ථා මගහරිමින් ද, වැරැද්දක් වූ තැන් නිවැරදි කරමින් ද ඉදිරියට යාම අවශ්‍යය. නැතිනම් වැරැද්දක් සත්‍යය ලෙස ද, අනියමයක් ඉතිහාසය ලෙසද භාවිතයට ඒමේ භයානක යථාර්ථයට කිංස්වුඩ් විදුහලටද මුහුණ දීමට සිදුවන බැවිනි. ඉතිහාස කරුනු වඩා ඕනෑකමින් සොයා නොබැලීම නිසා වී ඇති පහත අඩුපාඩුකම් අතින් සල්ලි වියදම් කර හෝ නිදොස් කිරීම වැදගත්යඃ

1. 1997 හා 1998 — මෙහි සදහන් රොෂාන් හා HL පෙරේරා එකම අයෙක් බව අපගේ මතයයි. මේ 1998 දී ප්‍රධා‍න ශිෂ්‍ය නායකයා වූ HRL පෙරේරා හෙවත් රොෂාන්පෙරේරා විය යුතුය. රොෂාන් කිංස්වුඩ් ක්‍රිකට් කණ්ඩායමේද ආරම්භක පිතිකරුවා විය.

2. 1997 — රොෂාන්පෙරේරා 1998 ප්‍රධා‍න ශිෂ්‍ය නායකයා නම් 1997 ප්‍රධා‍න ශිෂ්‍ය නායකයා කවුද? අපගේ මතකයට අනුව 1997 ප්‍රධා‍න ශිෂ්‍ය නායකයා බුද්ධික ඒකනායක යි. ඔහු ද මෑත කාලයේ විදුහලින් බිහිවූ කැපී පෙනෙන ක්‍රිකට් ක්‍රීඩකයෙකි. කණ්ඩායම් නායකයෙකි.

3. 1999 — මෙහි ප්‍රධා‍න ශිෂ්‍ය නායකයා ලෙස ජීවා ගල්ගමුව නම් කර ඇත. සත්‍ය තත්වය මධ්‍යස්තව සොයා බැලිය යුතු වේ. අප දන්නා තරමින් 1999ට ප්‍රධා‍න ශිෂ්‍ය නායකයෙක් සිටියේ නැත. එම වසරට අනුරූප ශිෂ්‍ය නායක මණ්ඩලයම යම් හේතුවක් නිසා ඉවත් කෙරුණු / වුණු අතර 1999 වසර පුරාවට ප්‍රධා‍න ශිෂ්‍ය නායක ධුරය “රොස්ටර්” ක්‍රමයට හුවමාරු වෙමින් පැවතියේ ඊ‍ට කනිෂ්ට කාන්ඩය අතරයි. අප කල විමසුමකදී 1999 කාන්ඩයේ සිටි (සහ ඉවත් කෙරුනු) ශිෂ්‍ය නායකයෙක් ද පැවසූයේ ඔහු දන්නා තරමින් 1999ට ප්‍රධා‍න ශිෂ්‍ය නායක ප්‍රදානයක් නොකෙරුනු බවයි.

4. 2003 — ප්‍රධා‍න ශිෂ්‍ය නායක මුලකුරු “WD” වියයුතු අතර එය “DK” නොවේ.

මෙම ආභාසන් ඉවත් කර මෙම නාමලේඛන වඩා ක්‍රමානුකූලව සහ ඉතිහාසය හා ගැලපෙන අයුරින් සකස් වෙනු ඇතැයි බලාපොරොත්තු වෙමු. අප මෙහි ඉදිරිපත් කරන කරුණු ද 100% ක් නිදොස් දැයි අපටම සැකයක් පවතී. ඉතාම සාධාරණ මූලාශ්‍ර සොයා යෑම මහත්මා ලක්ෂණයකි.

New Kingswood

Blaze’s statue stood tall
But his words had flown away like
Birds that for the Winter take flight.
The homely green was dust, the moisture all brown
And at mid day it looked already mid night.

Senior boys, like ghosts, marched from class to class
Their brains dripping like thick fluid from their arse.
Trees had no crowns, May flowers no longer fell
And in paradise it looked like a day carved out from hell.
In an empty, desolate landscape one heard a chiming bell.

Characterless men who came here
Always learned a lesson their character to lift.
Fide et Virtute lie with broken ribs and sides
With no one with courage or manliness swift
To carry it to safety from where it has fallen from heights.

A silent, eerily silent wind buzzed:
And that was the New Kingswood that
In a garish dream last night I saw:
A land laid out to rust and wither,
A universe divorced of gravitation’s law.
New Image2

Wish You Good Luck, Brother…. But…


Surely, an extremely talented young Kingswoodian: someone who has made it this far in a talent contest. We wish him all the best in the competition, even though these type of competitions are bad for youngsters (“Superstar” mentality is not a quality a school should promote).

But, the more important question is —- does this board belong here? Does this “begging board” belong in front of the college?

The Prefects We Need

If the stories are true, in the late 1980s, when state-sponsored crackdowns on young men and women was at their height, many Kingswood boys would opt to spend the night at school, without going back to their homes. At times like that, some of the Prefects who were active in the years 1987 and 1988 are also said to have stayed back with the boys. The name of one of the Senior Prefects of the “Bheeshana Samaya” is specially mentioned in his commitment to curb violence from entering school — both from the government paramilitary and the JVP.

In the early 1990s, when I was a young student of Kingswood College, we had a very exclusive Prefects’ Court which we looked up to with a sense of awe. In one of these Prefects’ Courts I remember a very small made “aiya” by the name of Wijesiri, who was an artist and was very good at drawings and such. He used to live close to the house I lived in back then for a few years, and lived the life of an artiste, living simple and with the people. He often drew boards and signs for villagers without a charge. Wijesiri, as I remember, died sometime in the late 1990s.

The Prefects' Court of 1987 with Principal Nihal Herath.
The Prefects’ Court of 1987 with Principal Nihal Herath.

In the 1990s, up to about the late 2000s, the practice was to have 20 Prefects, wearing gold plated badges. They were promoted from a group not exceeding 30, who were Monitors for a year. Kingswood’s Prefects were generally from after the A/L year — unlike the Prefects of some other schools whose “duty” ended a few months before their A/L exam — and were required to be in office for a year after studies. Until this changed in the late 2000s, the system worked quite well, except for 1994, where there are three Senior Prefects: Nagahapitiya, Ekanayake and Ranil De Silva. One version of the story is that Nagahapitiya stepped down and Ekanayake — who was then elected — had to back off in favour of a study opportunity that came his way. Ranil De Silva was one of the best loved and best feared of Senior Prefects of the last two decades.

Why was this system changed? One argument is that by requiring the Prefects to stay back another year or half a year at school, they were being asked to sacrifice a few months from their young lives, whereas they can be elsewhere doing a job or preparing for higher studies. With the changing times and changing expectations, maybe this argument sounds valid. But, isn’t this where the decay of Kingswood starts? The office of Prefect should not be a stud or a jewellery item you wear — but an office you take for the love of the school. It should not be something you take up to make your CV look pretty, but a commitment you make in the name of the school that nursed you. In that sense, the “additional year” is not a punishment or a burden, but a commitment of love and honour. Of course, the Prefect — before applying for the job — knows what the job is going to be; and for how long. Therefore, there is no reason for the administration to worry too much about Prefects “growing old” at school.

The stress, here, being Asiri Attanayake (2001), and of course the misspelling of Nathavitharana's initials --- DK, instead of WD.
The stress, here, being Asiri Attanayake (2001), and of course the misspelling of Nathavitharana’s initials — DK, instead of WD.

In a recent seminar at school, the Senior Prefect of 2003 WD Nathavitharana, shared with the senior boys the advantages of being “after ALs” when being a Prefect. According to him, being “after AL”s makes the Prefects biologically the oldest group of students in college and free of any other commitments but to serve the school full time. He also said that, as such, the Kingswood Prefects — wherever they went — were looked up to based on their seniority. The “training” they got in people management, event organization, crisis management and decision making, according to Nathavitharana, was worth the extra year spent in school. I feel that the change brought about in the late 2000s has made the Prefects’ Court both “soft” and vulnerable. This was one step that was taken to bring the Prefects to heel, and on the long run the strength and quality of the Prefects’ Court has come under comment.

In recent years, the Prefects seem to have some confusions regarding their “duty” and way of conduct. This is not the Prefects’ fault, entirely. The problem seems to be the “violation” of a “tradition” the Prefects’ Court had, in very short-sighted, dictatorial ways. In recent Big Matches we saw Prefects donning cowboy hats and dancing while on Big Match duty. We even saw some teachers (who, I am sure, are unaware of the traditions of the school and the Prefects’ Court) justifying this behaviour. Today, the cowboy hat seems to have come to stay and become a “tradition” of the Prefects’ Court. This is lamentable, to say the least and this policy has to be thought of again, considering the Past. At rugger matches we see Monitors holding a gigantic maroon and blue flag/banner of the school. They generally spread this on the railing of the main stand. But, we also see some Prefects who are in coloured clothing, while no Prefects are seen on duty at the game. These are drastic changes from the 1990s where Prefects were the leading force in maintaining order. They were never “spectators” in games or outings.

There were many Prefects during the time who were not the favourites of teachers. But, a good Prefect (in the way he conducted himself) always prompted the teachers and the administration to tidy up their game. In a time where the school was going through a very precarious passage — when the school had many internal issues and discipline was rocking like a boat in bad waters — the Prefects of 2001, in my view, gave the best as anyone could give for the school’s welfare. Back then, as a senior student, I remember feeling antagonistic towards these Prefects for the “harshness” of their policing, at times. But, I also realized that that kind of ruthlessness was needed to push Kingswood through the threat the school was facing at that time.

The 2001 Prefects were led by Asiri Attanayake, with Milinda Attanayake and Malalasekara as Scribes. The ruthlessness of the discipline they exacted off the students didn’t even spare boys of their own Grade. From top to bottom, from Siberia to the Primary, these Prefects combed the school of its lice and bugs — and were not always preferred by some of the teachers, too. But, their “duty” knew very little barriers and the foundation they laid that year, I am told, made the work of the Prefects of 2002 and 2003 a whole lot easier.

Today, the school needs boys who are ready to serve Kingswood, and not wear the name Kingswood as a jewel or a tie pin. We need boys who are ready to study the past, sustain the tradition and to give the best for a quality Kingswood that will live its 125 year old spirit and dignity. It is going to be hard — but, we need people who are ready to stop and re-think where we are, and where we are heading. The Prefects, I feel, have much to do in setting the standards for Kingswood to flourish and stand tall.