Our son was 7 at the time and he was promptly put over the garden fence to play cricket Sue Thorne - Spondon CC
Project supported by MCC Lord's and University of Glamorgan

Marylebone Cricket Club, Lord's Cricket Ground, St John's Wood, London, NW8 8QN | Project enquiries: Neil Robinson | 020 7616 8559

Cricket is something of a religion in Sri Lanka, and this page is dedicated to material that covers the whole of Sri Lanka cricket, rather than any specific club.

Sri Lanka is an island off the Southern coast of India in South East Asia. The country has a long history and has been a major centre of Buddhism since ancient times. Its strategic position has made the island an important trade centre, and was a major part of the silk road before later becoming part of the Dutch and British Empires.

Known as Ceylon, the country gained independence from Britain on 4 February 1948, and changed its name to Sri Lanka in 1972. After the disasters of a thirty year Civil War between the Sinhala and Tamil ethnic groups and the 2004 Tsunami, the country is now at peace and beginning to rebuild.

Brief club history 

Cricket was introduced to Sri Lanka by the British during the 19th Century, and it was the British, mostly in the tea trade, who founded the first cricket clubs. These clubs, such as the Colombo Cricket Club, were often restricted only to white members. In response, the elites of the native ethic groups began to form their own clubs. Some of these, such as the Tamil Union, the Sinhalese Sports Club or the Moors Sports Club, were restricted to specific ethnic groups; whereas others, such as the Nondescripts Cricket Club, were open to anyone.

At the same time, the newly established schools enthusiastically took up cricket, and started a thriving schools cricket scene which lasts to this day. The highlight of these are the 'big matches', fiercely-fought contests between rival schools such as Royal College and St Thomas's College, or the 'Battle of the Maroons' between Ananda and Nalanda.

Internationally, Ceylon was the host of several 'whistle-stop' tours in the 1950s and 1960s as Australian or English teams would visit the island en route to Ashes battles. Sri Lanka gained test status in 1981, and by 1996 had fully established themselves on the world scene by victory in the world cup. Since then cricket remains the most popular sport in Sri Lanka, but the path for Sri Lankan cricket has not always been smooth as other influences compete with those whose sole interest is the game.

The club and Taking the Field 

Taking the Field always hoped to include Sri Lankan cricket in its research, and in early 2012 Emma Peplow was sent to the island to research the history of Sri Lankan cricket. The trip was a fantastic success, with over 50 interviewees from:

  • Old, established clubs such as the Nondescripts Cricket Club, the Sinhalese Sports Club and the Tamil Union
  • First class clubs established in the last twenty years, such as Ragama CC and Badureliya CC
  • The charity the Foundation of Goodness, who use sport and cricket to help rebuild lives in their centres in Tsunami-hit Seenigama in the South and post-war Mankulam in the North
  • The Sri Lankan National Women's team
  • Sri Lankan schools, from the elite Royal College to the smaller district school teams outside Colombo

This first trip will act as an introduction to the history of Sri Lankan grassroots cricket, that we hope to build on in years to come.

Lovers' Quarrel: The history of the Galle Big Match

Lovers' Quarrel: The history of the Galle Big Match

Rohitha Wickramasekara, historian of the Richmond-Mahinda 'Big Match' in Galle between Richmond and Mahinda tells us about the origins and atmosphere of this great occasion. To read a fantastic story that Rohita told me about this match, read this update...

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The Good and Bad of the 1996 World Cup

The Good and Bad of the 1996 World Cup

As an introduction to the huge changes that are still affecting grassroots cricket in Sri Lanka today, former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga briefly tells us about the good and bad of the 1996 world cup win.

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