Number of Big Matches including the historic Battle of the Blues, which was not interrupted even during fierce World War I and II, are likely to face an interruption scar this year in the face of heightening security situation in Colombo.
With the Education Ministry advising school officials to control students from going out of schools for sports events due to the prevailing security situation, the Inter School First-XI cricket matches came to a halt and the Inter School Limited-Overs cricket tournament was postponed indefinitely by the SLSCA early this week. The final stage matches of the Inter School Under-13 Tournament too were postponed simultaneously.
Though several Big Matches played between well established cricket playing colleges do not come under any tournament conducted by the SLSCA, which comes under the Education Ministry, they too are likely to face an interruption this year.
`The decision to stop students movements out of schools was taken after considering the security situation of the country and we cannot predict when we could cancel the circular and the conditions of that circular apply to all school matches,` said L.K. Jayaweera, Director of Sports at the Ministry of Education, hinting that the cessation of school matches could last for months.
Asked whether the schools would be allowed to have their Big Matches as low key affairs, the Director of Sports doubted such possibility as many Big Matches played in Colombo are influenced by various associations relating to schools on which the school authorities do not have control.
The biggest impact the cessation of these matches will have is on the Battle of the Blues encounter between Royal College, Colombo, and S. Thomas College, Mount Lavinia, whose annual encounter has never been interrupted so far.
`We had already had conducted number of joint committee meetings in preparation for the Big Match. We are concerned about the security situation but we have not decided any thing yet. A decision in this regard will be taken when the joint committee meets again,` said a member of the Royal-Thomian joint Big Match organising committee.
The preparation for the Royal-Thomian Big Match starts months before the annual Big Match season and an official of the joint committee said that many things had been finalised for this year s 129th encounter before the Education Ministry issued the above said circular.
Meanwhile, several Big Match followers spoke positively anticipating a annulment of the circular. `Royal-Thomian event has a place in the history of this country. Interruption of this will break many hearts. I hope that things will change soon and we will have the match this year as well,` a Royal-Thomian supporter said.
While some suggested that it should be played even as a low key affair, a youth who had left the school about two years ago argued saying: `if colleges of Jaffna played their Big Match last year amidst so much of trouble in that war-torn city, why can t we have it here in Colombo.`