Ever since 1914, the “Hill Country Battle of the Blues” has been a spectacle of epic proportions that has enamored sports fans nationwide. The formidable Trinitians displayed tenacity and mettle, dominating the event until the 1950s and cementing a legacy that has persisted for well over a century. As we conclude the 104th iteration of this exhilarating showdown, it’s noteworthy that Trinity secured an impressive lead with 24 wins with their win this year, compared to Anthony’s 11 – a testament to the intense competition and rivalry characteristic of this momentous encounter.
The ”Hill Country Battle of the Blues” trophy is named after one of Trinity’s most pronounced cricketers at the turn of the 20th century, John Halangoda, who was an exceptional athlete, However he not only brought glory to Trinity but also to its formidable and friendly rivals St. Anthony’s College, St. Anthony’s College provided some exceptional battles when John Halangoda was coaching them, Later the winners of this encounter were gifted with the “John Halangoda Memorial Trophy” In memory of one of the greatest cricketers in this eminent battle.
Both Trinity and St. Anthony’s College are illustrious schools in Kandy with a long history of academic prowess, good sportsmanship, and cultural refinement. Playing cricket for a trophy for 104 years is a demonstration of the healthy inter-personal relationship the sport has inculcated among the two school communities.
The “Hill Country Battle of the Blues” means much more to the students of the schools than simply a sporting competition; it is a tangible representation of a friendly rivalry between Trinity College and St. Anthony’s College. It is the main platform for young and budding cricketers to perform and to reach the final goal of the international cricket.
If one were to give a definition to the “Hill Country Battle of the Blues” it is an athletic contest that goes above and beyond simple gamesmanship. It is a contest of passion, tenacity, and glory. It is a sonata that conjures up old memories, a poem in action, a tribute to tradition and cultural history, a symphony of talent and strategy, and it inspires both young sportsmen and cricket fans. This cricket game is a miniature representation of the school’s whole experience, a shared journey that resonates throughout the halls and corridors of these historic institutions and goes beyond the confines of the cricket pitch.
Many excellent and renowned cricketers and personalities have played in the “Hill Country Battle of the Blues” which include Kumar Sangakkara, Ravi Ratnayake, Kaushalya Weerarathne, Lakshman Kadiragamar, Lakshman Jayakody, Richard Aluvihare and Niroshan Dickwell from Trinity College, With Muttiah Muralitharan, Mahesh Goonathilake, Piyal Wijethunge, Ruwan Kalpage, Damien Nadarajah, Marlon Vong Hagt, A.H Sheriffdeen, A.C.M Lafir and Sajith Fernando from St. Anthony’s College.
There have also been 29 centuries scored in this encounter to date, with 17 belonging to St’ Anthony’s College and 12 to Trinity College.
Trinity College last won an outright win against Anthonys in 2012 under the leadership of Niroshan Dickwella, who now plays for the national team as a wicketkeeper and batsman where the Trinitians were able to shower the cricket pitch with their resilience. St. Anthony’s College were the holders of the John Halangoda trophy after the 1st innings win by St. Anthony’s in 2019.
The Trinitians showcased exceptional performance this year which steered the team only closer to an outright victory if not for the interruption by the rain on both the days. With only a 1st innings victory The Trinitians managed to bring back the trophy to where it belongs.
Review by Nimuthu Pathiraja, Chaniru Senhas & Rehan AnandaKumar