It is true that club cricket in Kandy is now a thing of the past. Cricket was played in the Kandy District from 1860s, mainly in the Knuckles-Rangala areas. While cricket was played in this area, there were clubs in Kandy town which conducted dancing, boating and rowing.
In 1896, Kandy Sports Club was established.
The tragedy that has befallen club cricket in Kandy becomes depressing when one looks back at the factors that paved the way for club cricket to thrive in Kandy at one stage. The first unofficial Test when the island was then known as Ceylon, was played at the Bogambara ground in 1889. The exclusive European Kandy Sports Club invited locals to play from 1920. In 1914 and 1916, overseas teams played at Bogambara and the Trinity College grounds in Asgiriya.
The revival of Kandy district cricket took place on August 16, 1946 with Dr. VHL Anthonisz as Secretary and Col. Gordon Pyper as President. Later, the Central Province Cricket Association was formed with Dr. V.H.L. Anthonisz as President. He offered the Dr. VHL Anthoniez Shield for competition among clubs in the Kandy District. The teams that participated were Kandy Sports Club, University Scheme SC, Kandy YMCA and Kandy YMBA SC.
The first tournament was won by Kandy Sports Club led by Francis Amerasinghe. In 1947, the Central Province Cricket Association participated in the Zonal Tournament conducted by the Ceylon Cricket Association. The Kandy district team was styled Central Zone and led by Phillip Buultjens.
Dr. Anthonisz did much for Kandy sports specially cricket and football. He was an honorary surgeon to the Governor and Officer Commanding the Ceylon Medical Corps of the Ceylon Defence Force. He was the first Ceylonese Secretary of Kandy Sports Club, Vice Patron of the Kandy Association Football League and later President of Kandy Sports Club and Central Province Cricket Association.
Central Province Cricket Association hosted the first Commonwealth team in 1950, second Commonwealth team in 1951, MCC in 1952, All India in 1956, Pakistan 1964, Hyderabad Blues 1966, State Bank of India 1967, MCC 1969, Australia 1969, MCC 1973, India 1974 and Pakistan 1976.
The Karachi Schools team led by Khalid Weir visited Ceylon in 1954 and in a match against Trinity College, Prince Aslam Khan, a promising left arm bowler, who had some fine tour performances, took 5 for 24 at Asgiriya. His bowling feat included a hat-trick. He claimed the scalps of M. Ratwatte, R. Aluwihare and W. Wanduragala.
In one of the matches, Leslie Ames scored 170 moving from 100 to 150 in 15 minutes. Indian off spinner Gulam Ahamed took 11 for 17 runs.
On another occasion, Kandy spectators witnessed a different kind of procession in the month of November. Central Province CA were in and out for 36 in just 45 minutes and in the second essay 69 in 95 minutes. In this game, GS Ramchand scored 100 for All India. In 1952, Tom Graveny scored a graceful 102 while on another occasion Intikhab Alam took 7 for 52 and 5 for 76. In 1969, Bill Lawry’s Australians played a game against the Central Province that took place after Hillary Abeyratne and his ground staff produced a playable wicket in spite of the rain. Later in 1973, the MCC led by Tony Lewis also played and won as Tony Greg scored 63. Dennis Amiss and Mike Dennis scored 50 each. The Madras Gopalan Trophy team played in Kandy on three occasions in 1967, ‘68 and ‘69. The CPCA registered their first victory in 1957 mainly due to some fine bowling by D.G. Karunarathne who took 7 for 37 and 5 for 42. Madras collapsed for 40 runs in the second innings.
In 1974, India met the Sri Lanka Board President’s XI at the St. Anthony’s ground, Katugastota in a drawn game as A. Mankad got his name into the record books as the first visiting player to score twin hundreds – 100 and 104.
The first Test to be played in Kandy featured Australia in April 1983 after which saw the arrival of New Zealand, India, Pakistan, England and South Africa. So much for the burial of club cricket in Kandy!