Marylebone Cricket Club tours of Ceylon and Sri Lanka

International cricket teams raised by Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) have visited Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) on no less than 23 occasions since 1911-12, the most recent being in the winter of 2000-01.

By 1911, there had been four English teams in Ceylon. Those were led by Ivo Bligh in 1882-83; George Vernon in 1889-90; Lord Hawke in 1892-93; and Andrew Stoddart in 1894-95. The Bligh and Stoddart teams were en route to Australia while the Vernon and Hawke ventures took in Ceylon as part of visits to India.

In 1911-12, a team organised by MCC visited Ceylon for the first time. Again, it was a case of using Colombo as a stopover en route to Australia. This team was led by Plum Warner and, like the earlier visitors, it played minor matches against local sides.

The first MCC team to play first-class matches in Ceylon was the 1926-27 side led by Arthur Gilligan. This team was essentially bound for India but it played four matches in Ceylon against the Europeans XI, the Ceylonese XI, an Up-Country XI and a Ceylon national team.

A significant event in the history of Sri Lankan cricket occurred in February 1962 when an MCC-organised England Test team finally did play a first-class match there. This was Ted Dexter's team returning from Australia and New Zealand and it played Ceylon at the Paikiasothy Saravanamuttu Stadium in Colombo in a three-day match. MCC won by 8 wickets.

In January 1969, the MCC England team visiting Pakistan came to Colombo and played Ceylon in a drawn match. By this time, the standard of cricket in the island had improved considerably and the national team was well on the way towards gaining Test status.

After Ceylon became Sri Lanka and MCC stopped organising England tours, the club has only rarely visited the island. There was something of a reunion spirit in 2000-01 when an MCC team arrived for the first time since 1977, but it played no first-class matches.

External sources

CricketArchive – tours and competitions in Ceylon/Sri Lanka

Further reading

  • Wisden Cricketers Almanack 2006

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