Champion Moratuwa cricketers thrown out from clubhouse | Sunday Observer

Champion Moratuwa cricketers thrown out from clubhouse

3 April, 2022

File photo of the young Moratuwa Sports Club team that won the Governor’s trophy in February comprising Sithara Hapuhinna, Shalin de Mel, Lasith Warnakulasooriya, Yohan Perera, Madushika Sandaruwan, Nayana Fernando (Captain), Rasindu Fernando, Savindu Peiris, Dilshan Mendis, Thevin Eriyagama and Chathura Vithana. They set aside schoolboy rivalry at S. Thomas’, St. Peter’s, St. Sebastian’s and Prince of Wales colleges to band together in what has become an eye-opener for the future. (Picture:


Just two months after they won a major championship, Moratuwa’s cricketers have been booted out from their clubhouse onto the street, their equipment locked in and staff workers pulled out and chased away like illegal squatters in a lightning invasion of their premises last week.

Moratuwa Sports Club which produced legendary Sri Lankan cricketers over eight decades and the current holder of the all-island Governor’s Trophy is now on the verge of being razed to the ground and flattened to make way for what is said to be a disputed shopping complex.

Club officials accuse the Moratuwa Urban Council of unleashing what they allege to be an unlawful 20-member gang with the knowledge of the Police to seize their premises in the most foul and illegal way with no legal document or court order to justify its take-over and impending demolition that goes against the very purpose of the club’s founding concept of serving public needs.

“This was an illegal and high-handed act by the mayor that goes against all forms of procedure and conduct associated with his public responsibility. He took the law into his own hands. They threw us out with our belongings and chased away our workers,” said Ranjith Gunawardena the president of Moratuwa Sports Club who is also an attorney at law.

Gunawardena said the invasion force swooped into the clubhouse saying they were under orders from “the boss” to throw them out lock, stock and barrel before sealing the place in what he described as “lawless behaviour” that he wants investigated as a crime.

Moratuwa Sports Club was founded in 1941 on a six-acre plot of land donated by the island’s well known philanthropist AC de Soysa that made it an entity solely set up for sports promotion and public welfare that club officials say does not give the Moratuwa Urban Council the right to usurp and convert it into any commercial venture.

Gunawardena pulling out a load of files showed documents to journalists that gives them the legitimate inheritance to run and maintain Moratuwa Sports Club as an organisation serving public welfare and sports promotion which had been the norm for 81 years.

Moratuwa Sports Club and its De Soysa Park was an international Test cricket venue in the 1990s and hosted Australia and the West Indies in the traditional game while England and New Zealand were accommodated for ODI matches that were patronised by packed crowds at what is touted to be Sri Lanka’s most cricket-frenzy location.

Some of the legendary cricketers associated with Moratuwa’s sporting history were World Cup exponents Duleep Mendis and Romesh Kaluwitharana who have become household immortals.

The raid and confiscation is also likely to send shock waves down the custodians of the game at Sri Lanka Cricket who hail Moratuwa Sports Club as one of their most important stake holders and could be hard-pressed to act to avert its ultimate destruction.

“For 81 years we were a major force in cricket and our current players have been treated in the most disrespectful way and their equipment and training gear locked inside. It will now be the responsibility of Sri Lanka Cricket to take note of what has happened,” said Daya Sirsena a former captain of the club who is also its treasurer.

Cricket followers in Moratuwa told the Sunday Observer that their biggest fear is losing what has come to be known as their most hallowed of sporting landmarks that was given a moral boost in February by a young band of schoolboys from S. Thomas’, St. Peter’s, St. Sebastian’s and Prince of Wales colleges who bagged the Governor’s trophy.