Cricket fans in the hill capital are eagerly awaiting the Australians who will be here in a few days time. Australia’s three-Test series during their tour of Sri Lanka is scheduled to begin with the first game at Pallekele on July 26. Kandy cricket fans will get to see more cricket, featuring the Aussies with the 5th ODI fixed for September 4 and the first T20 on September 6. All these matches will be played at Pallekelle. Cricket lovers expect the weather to be good for cricket over here.
In the days when international travel was solely by ship, the Australian cricket teams always dropped anchor at the port of Colombo. After the long sea voyage, players were eager to stretch their legs and the cricket-mad locals were very keen to take on the tourists. The Australian-Sri Lanka cricket connection has a long history. It is said that Lord Harris, the former England cricket captain, speaking at a dinner at Surrey Country Cricket Club in 1921 said, ‘Please visit Ceylon more often for your cricket.’ Since 1844, when the Australians first visited Ceylon, there had been eight stopover games by Australia up to 1937. One of these tours was made in 1914 by Rev. R. Waddy’s team, comprising players from New South Wales. It had two test players.
In 1938, the Australians toured Sri Lanka under Sir Don Bradman. The match was played at the old SSC ground (later known as Nomads grounds). All cricket lovers of that era were present to see Sir Don Bradman in action. Although his name appeared in the score sheet at No. 3 he did not play as he was indisposed. Stan MaCabe led the side and Australia scored 367 for 9 wickets in 69 overs. The match was drawn due to a tropical downpour.
The last unofficial Test match was played in Colombo in 1981 when the Australians were on their way to England. During this unofficial Test (played over three days) the total posted was the lowest recorded in Sri Lankan by Australia. Australia scored 124 and 178 while Sri Lanka made 177. Ajith de Silva and Lalith Kaluperuma bowled best to take match bags of 9 for 100 and 8 for 109 respectively.
During Sri Lanka’s Test era, there have been many tours by Australia to this country. They have also featured in many ODIs and Tri-series cricket matches. In 1996, the Aussies played in a tri-series which also featured host Sri Lanka and India. Australia reached the final, but lost by 50 runs to Sri Lanka.
The first Test between Sri Lanka and Australia was played in the month of April in 1983 in Asgiriya. Australia, who won the toss and chose to bat, won by an innings and 38 runs. The player of the match was KC Wessells (Australia). LRD Mendis led Sri Lanka while GSD Chappell captained Australia. EW Balasuriya organized the match on behalf of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka.
Australia 1st innings:514 for 4 in 131 overs (KC Wessells 141, GN Yallop 98, GS Chappell 66, AR Border not out 47, A. de Mel 2 for 113)
Sri Lanka 1st innings: 271 all out in 72.5 overs (LRD Mendis 74, A. Ranatunga 90, DK Lillee 2 for 67, B. Yardley 5 for 88)
Sri Lanka 2nd innings: 205 all out in 65.2 overs (S. Wettimuny 96, RJ Ratnayake run out 30, A Ranatunga 32, B Yardley 2 for 78, TG Hogan 5 for 66)