Cricket is one of the major events at Kandy’s Wariyapola Sri Sumangala College, a school that has a long history of over 135 years. It originated under the name St. Paul’s College, the junior school of Trinity College Kandy. After laying the first brick on 8 February in 1879 the new school was started as St. Paul’s English school. It was considered as a boy’s school. Later in the late 1980s the name was changed to Wariyapola Sri Sumangala College.
They first played cricket in 1894 when they were known as St. Paul’s. However, due to poor facilities they had to give up. It was only after 87 years (in 1981) that they restarted cricket, largely due to the efforts of former Sri Lanka cricketer and Kandy Municipal Council Commissioner late D.H. de Silva. He coached them and also groomed some top players. In the field of cricket their performances have been quite good. Special mention must be made of coaches like D.D.T. Alwis who coached the school for many years, Upali Wijesinghe and Tudor Gunaratne who made their contributions. Ranjith Colombage too did a good job. T.M.S. Ekanayake, the MIC, is the man behind the scene and gives cricket the best possible support. He is well supported by the school’s Principal M.B.G. Muhandiram.
Hemanath Wimalawickrema is the coach at present. He is a product of St. Sylvester’s College and later played club cricket. The school has limited facilities and is struggling to keep the game alive. They suffer in many ways. These boys have no playground, no cricket equipment, no support and also no proper venues for matches. Their team was the only one from Central hills to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association conducted tournament played for the Portello Trophy.
They did well despite losing to Sri Sumangala College, Panadura, who went on to become champions. For example, the under-19 cricketer who did duty for the Sri Lanka youth side, Lahiru Kumara learnt his cricket over here at junior level under coach Ranjith Colombage. Wariyapola Sri Sumangala College experiences the sadness of grooming cricketers and seeing a good number of them being grabbed by other schools.
Their big match is against Sri Rahula College Katugastota. However, this match was not played for eight years. Last season this encounter was revived and a one day game was played at Pallekelle International stadium. The result went in favour of Sri Sumangala College. This season they are hoping to go back to the two day game which will be followed by a one day encounter.
At present, they are still not settled down to play matches. They only played two friendly games against St. Sylvester’s College and Dharmaraja College. This time they are playing in the Division III level two group. Their matches are still not finalized. Their experiences in school last season were similar.
This time they are fielding a fresher-laden side with only a handful of seniors available from the last season team. But they are hopeful of performing well. Despite fielding an inexperienced side, they have played two friendly games against St. Sylvester’s College and Dharmaraja College.
This season they are led by Mithun Karunartne, a good batsman. He is an astute captain who should lead his side well. Chamodha Premaratne will be his deputy. He is another good cricketer and is expected to contribute with his bat. The rest of the players are: Avishka Pushpakumra, Isuru Kulatunge, Vihanga Weerathunga, Viraj Wickremasinghe, Eranga Wijesiri, Hiran Weerasinghe, Sandakan Ekanayake, Suneth Peries, Umega Silva, Miraj Rajapakse, Lahiru Bandara, Niomal Gunawardene, Chathura Jayarathne and Gandiu Samaraweera.