Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC)
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The Times of India, Aug 27 2015
In Lanka's storied club rivalry, SSC still the king
Devadyuti Das The Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) is part of the `holy trinity' of Sri Lankan cricket along with the Colombo Cricket Club and the Nondescripts Cricket Club. Of all these club grounds, the SSC has come to be known as the `Lord's of Lankan cricket'. “England has Lord's, Australia has the MCG, and Sri Lanka has the Sinhalese Sports Club, the SSC. The history is not as long, and the names that figure in the annals of the ground's history are fewer, but for Sri Lankans, the SSC is the home of cricket,“ the nowretired Kumar Sangakkara wrote about the SSC in a book titled Ground Rules.
The club itself was formed in 1899 when cricket clubs in Ceylon were based on racial lines following the colonial policy of divide and rule. One of the old-timers from the SSC is Michael de Zoysa, a for mer manager of the Sri Lankan team and a member of the club's cricket house committee.
To De Zoysa goes the credit of discovering a young 13-year-old Arjuna Ranatunga during a school tournament back in 1970. He convinced Ranatunga to join the club and the rest is history.
“The history of the club is over 115 years old. It is the second or third cricket club started in Sri Lanka and went on to win more championships than any other club in the country . In fact, up to the late '90s almost eight cricketers in the national squad came from SSC. We still have around five cricketers in the Test team from our club,“ De Zoysa told TOI on Wednesday .
The club followed the British traditions in every way possible, from organizing ballroom dances and drinking scotch in the evening to adopting western table manners. “I used to feel very awkward about some of the table manners at the club, like eating with fork and spoon. It wasn't something I had grown up doing,“ Ranatunga told TOI about his days at the club.
The current chairman of the SLC interim committee, Sidath Wettimuny, and his two brothers are also products of SSC.
“Sidath managed to gain a lot of accolades for his 192 at Lord's but his brother Sunil was a better batsman for me. Sunil was such a sweet timer of the ball, an opener of great style and grace,“ De Zoysa remembers.
Sidath too considers SSC as one of the pillars of Lankan cricket.“There is just so much history associated with the club. It is the breeding ground of so many great cricketers from FC de Saram to Anura Tenekoon to Mahela Jayawardene,“ Wettimuny said.
The headquarters of the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) board moved to SSC when the nation received Test status back in 1981. The ground is now planning to move ahead with the times.
“We are planning to get lights installed at this ground in the next couple of years. Once we have that in place we'll be able to host ODIs regularly rather than getting a Test once every two years,“ the veteran club administrator said.
The ground is preparing for another Test -a series-decider between India and Sri Lanka -and looks primed for action.