Wesley-Bens to celebrate 125-year cricket legacy with annual cricket match | Daily FT

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  • Cartman Cup for 2-day encounter and Luke Shield for one-day

By Sa’adi Thawfeeq

To the sound of Scottish bagpipes, the Cartman Cup and Luke Shield for cricket is to be played between two leading schools in Colombo – St. Benedict’s College and Wesley College; which were inaugurated amidst a distinguished gathering of old boys of both schools at the Hilton Blue on Wednesday evening.

The two schools first met at cricket in 1896 and it is to celebrate a 125-year legacy that an annual cricket encounter has been inaugurated. The two-day encounter played for the Cartman Cup, named in honour of Rev. James Cartman, a former Principal of Wesley College, will take place on 23 and 24 April at St. Benedict’s College grounds – Kotahena, and the one-day encounter played for the Luke Shield, named in honour of Rev. Bro. Luke Gregory FSC, a former Director of St. Benedict’s College, will be played on 8 May at the P. Sara Oval. Both matches will be organised and hosted by the Bens-Wesley Joint Committee, along with the patronage of both schools.

In keeping with current health regulations, both matches will be played with no crowd participation. However, the Joint Committee has made arrangements to telecast both matches live on TV and also live streamed through Quadrangle’s YouTube channel.

Tracing the history of how this historic cricket encounter became a reality. Lalith Madappulli in his welcome speech stated: “As Benedictines, throughout our lives, we have spoken about a special cricket encounter with Wesley College, and it must have been the same with the Wesleyites as well. The process got under way over a year ago when the provincial visitor of the De La Salle brothers, Rev. Bro. Christic Rose inspired the Benedictines to look into the possibility of making that a reality.

“Thereafter, the old boys from both schools had a series of informal discussions starting at the charming Railway Carriage at Old Wesleyites Sports Club. This led to a series of formal meetings where the Principals of the two schools appointed the Bens-Wesley Committee (BWC). The committee was thereafter tasked with making the encounter a reality. Throughout the pandemic, the BWC and its sub-committees conducted countless virtual meetings to form an MOU that was signed between the two Principals a few weeks ago. The signing of the MOU was followed by the media conference being organised within weeks.”

“This union in cricket is unique since these two great colleges have basked in more than 300 years of combined Christian education and now commemorate 125 years in playing cricket. The coming together of two schools of different Christian denomination in the name of cricket shows the world how sport sets aside differences and brings about unity and team work.

“This was told repeatedly in the last few months when the Bens and Wesley boys worked together with the golden principle of ‘give and take’ in order to take decisions and stand where we are today. One thing we must keep in mind is that the encounter is focussed around the development of students and as such we do not call this cricketing encounter a Big Match or any other Battle, it is much more than that.”

St. Benedict’s College Director Dr. Rev. Bro. Pubudu Rajapaksha said that the school established in 1865 to meet the urgent need of the Catholic community in Colombo, has an outstanding and unparalleled record of having produced some of the finest gentlemen to the country, many of whom have adorned high office both in Sri Lanka and abroad with humility, equality and fair play; always living with the verse of the college anthem.

Speaking further, he said that in the field of sports, St. Benedict’s College has an outstanding record of having produced champion teams, especially in cricket, basketball, hockey cadetting, gymnastics and athletics.

Wesley College Principal Avanka Fernando said that initially he was not in favour of a match but later the old boys convinced him after working very hard to achieve their objective.

“The two schools coming with a rich history and based on Christian values and discipline are creating history today,” said Fernando.

“Both the Principal of St. Benedict’s and I agreed and came to one objective that this match is going to be a totally different one from all the other encounters that we and other schools play.”

Fernando drew attention to the fact that the captains of the two schools – Thenuka Perera of Wesley College and Kaviru Perera of St. Benedict’s College would be making history as the first two captains to lead their schools in the inaugural encounter and create a significant feature in the school cricket arena.