Sri Lankan Schools Association: The foundation for the nations success

Sri Lanka is acknowledged today as one of the best cricket nations in the world. Having obtained test status in 1982, this serendipitous little island in the Indian Ocean, owes a debt of gratitude to the Sri Lanka School Cricket Association (SSCA), for its pioneering work amongst the nations school children.

The idea of a Schools Association was conceived way back in 1930 by a group of school Principals. Schools' cricket at that time was confined to a few schools in Colombo, Kandy and Galle. Then, in 1948, the Sri Lanka Schools' Cricket Association was formed with Rev. J. S. Carter, Principal of Wesley College, as its first president. The Founder Members were Warden R. S. de Saram of St. Thomas' College, Mount Lavinia, and the late Mr. J.B.C. Rodrigo of Prince of Wales College Moratuwa, Rev. Bro. Mackay of St. Anthony's College, Kandy, J.W.S. Senarathne, Shelton Gunasekera, Cricket Master, St. Thomas' College, Mt. Lavania, and with C.O. Ekanayake, Master, St. Peter's College, as it's Secretary.

Since then, schools cricket has spread island wide to approximately 250 schools, and, thanks to the SCA, these schools play their cricket within a unique pyramid structure. In most cricket countries of the world schools cricket is neither centrally organised nor competitive. However, in Sri Lanka, school cricketers are exposed to competitive matches and the best teams gain deserved recognition for their endeavors.

It is thus unsurprising that the Sri Lanka School Cricket Association is recognised as the premier schools organisation in the world. Nowhere else, from the U13 to U19 level, is cricket coordinated in such a coherent fashion: 250 schools, 4000 games and over 10,000 school children all with a chance of winning the island wide tournament.

For much of its history the SSCA has coordinated and managed without great funding nor even a central office. Thankfully, in 1998, the demand for an office with the proper facilities was recognised by Thilanga Sumathipala, the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL). He then persuaded the Minister of Sports, the Hon. S. B. Disanayake, and space was allocated within the Sports Ministry Complex. Today, the SSCA operates from a simple, but up-to-date, two roomed office.

Nevertheless fact remains that schools cricket thrives, not because of the provision of an occasional central handout, but because of the hard endeavors of people within in the association and cricket masters throughout the isle. Without their often unacknowledged and voluntary work, such success in Sharjah is not conceivable.