If you’ve been in Sri Lanka lately, you might have heard people talking about a “Big Match”. If you know anything about the country you will probably have guessed the reference to cricket correctly. School cricket here is huge! All boys schools (and many girls schools) have a cricket team, and at the larger schools, cricket is almost a religion. After many years these large schools have developed fierce rivalries with each other and the “big match” refers to a series of three-day matches and single dayers between established rival teams.
Personally, I don’t really like cricket, however after tagging along to the Ananda vs Nalanda’s “Battle of the Maroons” I can see why people make the pilgrimage from all over the world to watch the one match that unites alumni and divides Colombo. There is certainly an energy around the field that captures the best and worst this country has to offer. It’s a day of drinking, dancing and catching up with friends, with very little focus on the actual game.
The season is not yet over, you can check out upcoming games on the blog’s calendar. If you’re interested most of the matches sell tickets via Facebook links but here’s a couple things before you book next year’s tickets: it’s way more fun if you go with locals, the games are sometimes taken a tad too seriously with scuffles breaking out if results don’t go as hoped, take a hat and sunscreen, pack water and snacks as options are limited on the grounds, and finally get a tuk-tuk/Uber/taxi – parking is limited.
It’s quite a cheap day out, alcohol isn’t sold on the grounds but people seem to sneak it in water and sprite bottles. Women enter for free and children’s tickets are around Rs.100, which go on sale in February.