Suraj Abeysekera led St. Peter’s to victory in 1978

Posted on 01 March 2018 by admin

St. Peter’s College had a tremendous season in 1978 under the captaincy of Suraj Abeysekera winning “Best All Island Team” award in both the Sunday Observer and Sunday Times competitions. Besides Abeysekera's astute captaincy, he had a few star players who were match winners. On the bowling side was Vinothen John who needs little introduction. He opened bowling with Walter Fernando, another die-hard cricketer. Strengthening the team from a spinning perspective were skipper Abeysekera who had phenomenal season, fresher Niranjan Rodrigo, and Trehern Pereira. The Peterite top order batsmen were formidable with A. Fonseka, Michael Elias, Kitto Fernandopulle, Rohan Buultjens, Walter Fernando and Trehern Pereira. With this core group, the Peterites had a winning combination.

However, it was the Big Match itself that was one of the most memorable matches played that year and had the spectators on their toes throughout the day as the fortunes of the game oscillated like a pendulum from one side to the other. It was one of the most interesting 'big match' vinctories earned by the Peterites.

St. Joseph’s College won the toss and after electing to bat first, were struggling at 60 for 5 but a fighting knock by Michael De Silva helped them recover and declare at 217 for 9. Left arm seamer Ajith Dassanayake entered the record books with a haul of 5 wickets. St. Peter’s started their 1stinnings badly and lost wickets at regular intervals to reach 161 for 8 at Lunch on day two.

It was at this point that the Peterites took a very bold decision that threw the match wide open. They declared their innings with a deficit of 56 runs, an unprecedented decision at that time. In the same spirit, Josephian Captain  S Wijeyaratne declared the second innings of St. Joseph’s at 127 for 6 at Tea on day two.  This meant that the Peterites had to chase a challenging target of 184 to win in the last session which included the mandatory overs.

St. Peter’s started off disastrously, losing their openers in quick succession and were precariously placed at 9 runs for the loss of 2 wickets with the Josephian fast bowlers bowling exceptionally well.

In most cases, a team chasing a stiff target of 184 runs in the last session with two quick wickets down would have put up shutters and played for a draw. However, the Peterites had other ideas. The two excellent batsmen at the crease, Kitto Fernandopulle and Rohan Buultjens played very positively despite the early loss of wickets to keep the Josephian bowlers at bay whilst quietly accumulating runs. At the commencement of the mandatory overs, the score was 100 for 2, a very good position for the Peterites, considering the poor start. They then put the foot on the pedal and increased the scoring rate. The Josephians, realizing that they were losing control of the match, then began to employ negative tactics by packing the offside field and bowling outside the off-stump. The loss of Buultjens’ wicket brought to the crease Walter Fernando who hit out lustily in fading light.

Towards the latter part of the innings spectators on both sides were on their toes and whilst the Peterite spectators were dancing on the isles and shouting their voices hoarse, the Josephian spectators were losing heart by the minute as they realized that the Peterites were marching towards victory.  

Every passing minute brought a new twist to the match, making it more and more interesting with unbearable suspense. The Josephians were gradually losing control of the match whilst the Peterites were steadily forging their way to the target. Papare Bands were in full swing with the old boys of St. Peter’s parading around the ground, leading the cheering.  This motivated the young school boys to join in the fun.

The Peterites achieved the challenging target of 184 runs with 3 overs to spare in fading light.  Kitto Fernandopulle scored an unbeaten 65, Rohan Buultjens a stylish 73 runs and Walter Fernando contributed with some quick runs towards the end, making 42.  Skipper Suraj Abeysekara fittingly scored the winning run and the jubilant Peterite supporters sang and danced in Colombo until late night, celebrating the magnificent win of St. Peter’s College.

Credit for the victory should go to the bold decision made by the Peterites who decided to declare with a deficit of over 50 runs against the advice of many.  Credit is also due to the Josephians for reciprocating with an equally bold declaration. The chasing down of a stiff target of 184 runs in one session was also a brilliant achievement which left a lasting legacy in the Joe-Pete “Big Match” history.


  • St. Joseph's College – 217 (M. de Silva 58 not out, L. Aloysius 32, Rohan Wijesinghe 32) and 127 for 6 wkts declared (Viraj Perera 21 not out)
  • St. Peter's College – 161 for 8 wkts declared (Rohan Buultjens 73) and 187 for 4 wickets (Kitto Fernandopulle 65 not out; Rohan Buultjens 49; Walter Fernando 42)
  • St. Peter's College won by 6 wickets.


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