Jagath C. Savanadasa, in Daily News, 5 September 2022, where the title reads “The beautiful new Colts CC Pavilion – a lasting tribute to a rich history” .… with highlighting added by The Editor, Thuppahi
The red brick Colts building could be seen from three sides – Havelock Road, Park Road, and the road to the left of Park Road, that goes past Isipathana College. If you stand across the school at dusk and view the Pavilion when it is illuminated, its beauty takes your breath away.
The building fulfills a dream and vision of the present leaders of the Club – its current President Nishantha Ranatunga, the three Vice Presidents – Eastman Narangoda, Chaminda Vaas, K, Shaktidasan and those others at the helm Honorary Secretary Major General Shiran Abeysekere and K. Ratnaharan, Honorary Treasurer. These highly motivated officials were backed by the members of the Executive Committee. Each and every one of them were deeply committed to this project and it was completed in a record period of two years. The Patron of Colts is Trevor Rajaratnam a senior member who had been a live wire of the Institution for a long time.
The Colts was founded in 1873 in a small school room by a gentleman named Jansz. That was in a playground named Raquet Court, Pettah subsequently known as Chalmers Granaries. Pettah incidentally during the heyday of British Colonial Rule was a reputed residential area.
From that insignificant beginning, the Colts grew up to be a outstanding cricketing entity. During the first decade of its existence it was unbeaten. Of course there were only a limited number of other clubs who played cricket then.
The Colts was the first Ceylonese club to have been established and only two other clubs were established before it. They were the Colombo Cricket Club (CCC) and the Malay Cricket Club (MCC).
During the British Rule the Burgher community was one dominant part of the population, besides of course Sinhalese and Tamils who had followed the ways of the British.
The Burghers founded Colts and during its first phase it was they who exclusively held the key offices like President, Secretary and Treasurer. The same pattern followed in respect of those who played Cricket for the Club.
Important matches were then played on the Galle-Face Green. One such stand out match played annually was the Ceylonese versus Europeans encounter.
During the first years of this game it was the Colts Cricketers who mostly composed the Ceylonese side and in one such encounter the entire Ceylonese team comprised of only Colts players.
This was just one instance that gives a clear and incontestable indication of the strength of Colts.
It was the schools established by the British or English who nurtured the game in this country and they provided the players to the Club. Firstly it was Royal and St. Thomas who formed the backbone of the Colts cricket team. Players from other schools like St Josephs, Wesley, St. Peters besides those in Kandy too represented the Colts later.
In 1921 the Colts relocated at the present ground bordering Havelock Road and Park Road. Though the relocation was a significant change, the ground was a far cry from the modern day ground. Besides being uneven with sandy parking a hundred years ago, bordering the Havelock side was a grass field when a big hit resulted in the ball landing on this field it took some time for it to be found. On the other side where Isipathana College is located today the land was then a coconut estate.
Though Cricket yet was the top sport at Colts, tennis, Indoor games besides Hockey in which the Colts excelled especially towards the second half of the twentieth century, were also played. Women’s Cricket too was also played at Colts since the 2nd half of 20th Century.
Though the Colts was not as outstanding as it was during past era, its enthusiasm for Cricket was maintained. Cricket in general was on a sound footing and official control of the game came into play in a highly visible manner.
D. W. L. Lieversz was a Colts’ stalwart in the 1940s-60s and an impeccable administrator in Ceylon’s crciket administation at that stage …. serving also as a Selector till his son Darrell came into contention for a top spot in the early 60s
In 1982 after persistent effort the country had the singular honour of being admitted to the ICC which implied the granting of test status. Sri Lanka as a result was able to play Test Cricket against other test playing nations.
A kind of cricketing revolution followed. This led to the broad basing of the game with a shorter version of matches. Yet another part of the cricket revolution was the infusion of professionalism into the game which was a wholly new cricketing phenomenon.
In 1996 Sri Lanka won the World Cup 50 over title beating Australia and also emerged victorious in a 20 over finals. The Colts team had the honour of having three Test stars Roy Dias, Chaminda Vaas and Romesh Kaluwitharana who represented the country during its early years in test Cricket as well as one dayers.
In subsequent years too Colts produced a world class Cricketer in Angelo Mathews beside other fine exponents of the games like Nuwan Kulasekera, Kusal Janith Perera and Akila Dhananjaya to name a few. Colts Cricketers also featured in the Sri Lanka Aid teams regularly.
Hopefully the 150 years history of Colts will feature many other aspects of this remarkable cricketing entity that is now replete with a magnificent new home.
The writer is an Honorary Life member and the Vice patron of the Club. He has been one of country’s leading Chambers of Commerce officials and historian/author.
Some Colts Cricketers of the First Order in Yesteryear
SOME REFERENCES added by The Editor, Thuppahi
SP Foenander 1924 Fifty Years of Ceylon Cricket, Colombo
SS Perera 1999 The Janashakthi Book of Cricket, ed. by s. Muttiah, Colombo,
Michael Roberts 1985 “Ethnicity in Riposte at a Cricket Match: The Past for the Present”, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 27: 401-429.
Michael Roberts, Ismeth Raheem & Percy Colin-Thome 1989 People Inbetween, Sarvodaya Publishers.
Michael Roberts & Alfred James 1998 Crosscurrents: Sri Lanka and Australia at Cricket, Sydney, Walala wala Press.
Michael Roberts 2006 Forces and Strands in Sri Lanka’s Cricketing History, Colombo: Social Scientists’ Association, 2006
Michael Roberts 2011 Incursions & Excursions in and Around Sri Lanka Cricket, Vijitha Yapa Publicaions.
Media Publishers 2019 Lions of Sri Lanka. Cricket– An Island’s Passion.
Michael Roberts 2005a “Sri Lanka: the Power of Cricket & Power in Cricket”, Cricket and National Identity in the Post-Colonial Age: Following On, ed. by Stephen Wagg, London: Routledge, pp. 132-58.
Michael Roberts 2007 “Landmarks and Threads in the Cricketing Universe of Sri Lanka,” Sport in Society, January 2007, vol. 10 (1): 120-42.
Michael Roberts 2008 “The spectre of terrorism and cricketing fears,” http://www.groundviews.org, 12 Dec. 2008 and The Island, 3 Jan 2009
Michael Roberts 2009 “Wunderkidz in a Blunderland: Tensions & Tales from Sri Lankan Cricket,” in Dominic Malcolm, Jon Gemmell and Nalin Mehta (eds.) Sport and Society, vol. 12, nos. 4/5, special issue on Cricket; International and Interdisciplinary Approaches, 2009, pp. 566-78.