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Richmond- Mahinda Lovers’ Quarrel marks 117 years

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The annual Cricket encounter between Richmond College and Mahinda College started yesterday and will be continued today at Galle International Cricket Stadium. The annual encounter between Richmond College and Mahinda College is a sub-cultural phenomenon that has been deep rooted in the veins of Southerners. This annual encounter is becoming a reality this year after a lapse of two years as this event was not held in 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19 pandemic that wreaked havoc in the country. However, this much looked forward to event got underway yesterday with more vigour and enthusiasm. In fact, Richmond has a slight edge over the arch rivals this time around due to many reasons. In the last big match held in 2019, Richmond emerged victorious Besides, Richmond College has another reason to be proud of. Today, Sri Lanka national squad comprises nucleus of Richmondites in its fold with current T -20 leading Spinner Wanindu Hasaranga, Dhanajaya de Silva the Test Vice Captain Charith Asalanka the white ball format vice captain and Kamindu Mendis to name a few while Suranga Lakmal, another proud Richmond product has just retired from national duty. Meanwhile promising all rounder Dhananjaya Lakshan is also knocking at the door of the national squad’ and 2015 Big Match winning skipper Sithara Gimhana too has drawn the attention of national selectors as a star in the making. Therefore, Richmond College has been credited for producing most number of national players in contemporary history which will surely be written in Gold in the annals of the Cricketing chronicles of the country.

Richmond-Mahinda ‘Lovers’ Quarrel’ has a very special place in the school Cricket culture in Sri Lanka. This generations old sports sub-culture of two leading schools in Galle has been comprehensively researched by Sociology Unit of University of Colombo and included in its journal and this team of researchers comprised the writer as well. In this exclusive research, it was noted that many schools are engaged in big matches around the country which are called battles or encounters but Richmond- Mahinda Big Match is known for its distinct identity. It is a quarrel of lovers signifying its quintessential significance between two colleges in contrary to other schools in Sri Lanka. Besides, it has a time tested tradition where the host school has the right to use its name as the first name in the big match theme tag and vice versa each year. This is a unique practice which has been in existence for over a century.

The Year 2022 is a significant year for Mahinda College as well. Mahinda College celebrated a rare feat of a fellow Mahindian of yesteryear. In 1972, Richmond skipper Prasad Kariyawasam 156 not out went on to break Mahindian Sirisena Hettige’s record of highest individual score in an innings in this battle.

But within 16 hours on the following day of the match, this record was broken by Mahinda Vice Captain P.H.K. H .Ranasinghe playing a mammoth innings of 162 to make a niche in the history of the ‘Lovers’ Quarrel’ which remains unbroken to date. This year, this great feat marked 50 years and grateful Mahindians chose to celebrate the occasion to pay tribute to this great Mahindian in style. Significantly, Richmond team was coached by Marcus Dias Jayasinghe who was an old Mahindian while Mahinda team was under Frank Guruge. It is worthy of note that the saga of Amendra family from Mahinda College whose nine family members represented the College in big matches consecutively and intermittently, has beautified

this longstanding episode of Richmond-Mahinda rivalry. Prasad Kariyawasam became a top notched diplomat of the country later and retired as Foreign Secretary of the country.

During this bygone era,Richmond College had a legendary Principal J.H Darrel from England who was a mathematician par excellence. Based on the strong bond of friendship he had with Father Frank Lee Woodward from his own university in England who was at the helm of Mahinda College at that period of time, both Principals were enthusiastic to play an annual cricket match which was made possible in 1904. It is significant to note that this inaugural match was officiated by two principals as umpires.

Richmond College team was led by late C.W.W Kannangara who was hailed as Father of Free Education during his tenure as Minister of Education from 1931 to 1947 emerged victorious in the inaugural encounter. Mahinda tasted its first victory in 1908. In forties, this annual encounter came to be known as lovers’ quarrel. This is a fitting tag line that epitomizes a great tradition of two schools from two religious backgrounds Methodist and Buddhist in the southern region of Sri Lanka. The beauty of this battle is that it has nurtured a distinct culture and tradition which are unique to the two schools for over almost 12 decades.

(Translated by Lasitha Mendis of Richmond 83 Group).

Monday, April 18, 2022 – 01:00

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