Colts Cricket club
Colombo Colts Cricket Club (Colombo Colts CC) located at No 17, Park Road, Colombo 05, Sri Lanka, is one of the leading Cricket clubs in in the country. Founded in 1873 as the first Ceylonese Cricket Club in Sri Lanka, Colombo Colts CC is playing a significant role in promoting and popularizing Cricket in Sri Lanka and raising the standards of the game.
The Colombo Colts Cricket Club has won the P Saravanamuttu Trophy once in 1991-92 and the Premier Trophy for five times in 1999-00, 2001-02, 2004-05, 2008-09(Tier A) and in 2011-12(Tier A).
The Founding of the Colts
“GREAT oaks from little acorns spring” is a well-known old saying, most appropriate to quote in writing the history of the Colombo Colts C.C., which was founded in a very modest manner in the humble school-room of the late Mr. J. C. Jansz, father of a still more famous old schoolmaster, on August 26, 1873.
The old school-room in Third Cross Street, Pettah, where the inaugural meeting of the Colts C.C. took place, is still in existence; but that quarter of the city, which was 68 years ago a fashionable residential area, has now been transformed into a business quarter of Indian merchants.
At a dinner of the Colombo Colts C.C. held at the Bristol Hotel in September, 1909, the late Mr. Horace de Kretser, one of the founders of the Club, in the course of a brilliant speech indulged in some very interesting reminiscences of 46 years back, when a band of young Burgher cricketers, then resident in the Pettah, started a Cricket club under the name of the juvenile C.C. There were other minor clubs started about the same time, with their practice ground at the Racquet Court, or the Gordon Gardens.
On August 26, 1873, the members of the various clubs in Pettah and Small Pass decided to amalgamate their forces, and so a meeting was held in the school-room of the late Mr. J, C. Jansz, and the old records tell us that the prime movers in this venture were the twin brothers Wilfred and Justin de Zilva. The former was in later years better known as Wilfred van Twest, Shipping Master of the Colombo Customs.
Among the original members of the Club inaugurated in 1873 were the brothers Charles, Edward, Horace and Edgar de Kretser, Wilfred and Justin de Zilwa, Harry Dabrera, Oliver Raffel, Gerald van Houten, A. B. Claessen, Vincent Vandort, F. J. Lemphers, Edward Ohlmus, J. H. Franciscus, Walter and Reggie Garvin, Wilfred van Twest was elected first President of the Club, and Horace de Kretser its first Hony. Secretary. At that meeting the Club was called the Marylebone C.C.; but this name had to be altered to the Colts C.C., as the following story related by Wilfred van Twest explains:-
The club being in need of materials, a subscription paper was taken round the Fort offices by Wilfred van Twest. One of the earliest to be shown this paper was the late Mr. R.L.M. Brown, founder of the well-known Colombo firm of Lewis Brown’& Co. Ltd. The veteran Englishman was quite irate when he found that the name of the greatest cricket club in England had been adopted by the Burgher youths. He turned Wilfred van Twest out of his room with the remark that he would be pleased to give his Club financial help when they changed their name.
The members quickly met at the call of Wilfred van Twest, who, producing a copy of Lillywhite’s Red Annual, found in it a reference to Surrey and Yorkshire Colts.
The name “Colts” stirred the imagination of the young cricketers, and they decided forthwith to re-christen their Club the Colombo Colts C.C., and so the most famous Ceylonese cricket club of the past seven decades came into being, soon to challenge the supremacy on the cricket field of the Englishmen in Ceylon.
The headquarters of the Colts CC. was at the Racquet Court, where some of the most famous Ceylonese Cricketers developed their natural talent, and in time made their club the strongest one in the island.
“Edo” Ohlmus, father-in-law of the lace Dr. S P Joseph, was the hardest hitter of his day, and old timers relate how some of his “sky-scraper” hits cleared the tops of the ”kotang” trees on the Racouet court. Charlie de Krester was the demon under-arm bowler of those early day, and on the uneven cricket pitches of those times he was terror to the batsmen.
The earliest rivals of the Colts C.C. were the Colombo cricket club, the Galle C.C. and the Kandy Oddfellows, one of whom was R. Horan, father of the famous C Horan of the Nondescripts and of R. Horan of the Municipality.
In 1885 most of the older members of the Club had ceased to figure on the active list and their places began to be taken by younger and more famous cricketers. The Railway C.C and the Fort Club one of whose members was the veteran Louis Siedle, were also regular opponents of the Colts. Matches were played at the Racquet Court or in Gordon Gardens’ where the first Royal vs St. Thomas’ tool place. At this time there were two clubs playing on the Racquet court, namely the colts club and the victoria C.C. The former consisted chiefly of grown up men, while the latter was composed mostly of boys, who in later years formed valuable recruits to the older club.
If only these two clubs had existed all would have been well at the Racquet Court, but unfortunately for them a rival club was started, composed mainly of members who had for some reason or other became dissatisfied with the Colts Club. The new Club was formed of men drawn away from the Colts C.C. and the Victoria C.C. All three clubs suffered in the long run,
There not being a sufficiently large number of members in each club to keep their respective clubs in working order and consequently matters came to a standstill, but Cricket was not allowed to suffer for any length of rime. A meeting was summoned by some of the most prominent Burgher cricketers of the time, and the result was a union of the three Clubs under the name of the Colombo Colts Cricket Club.