Around 1100 Malay troops of the Dutch Colonial Army were absorbed into the Rifle Regiment formed by the British in 1827. The close association of the Malays with the British Military personnel saw them take to the game of Cricket like ducks to water. The Rifle Regiment comprised. Malay soldiers (from Java) but had British Officers. The cricket craze imbued in the Malays gave rise to a historic encounter on March 23, 1872, between an All-Malay team fielded by the Rifle Regiment and a British Regimental side. Consequently, the British Government gifted the Malays the northern end of the Rifle Parade Grounds at Slave Island which led to the founding of the Malay Cricket Club (now the Colombo Malay Cricket Club) in 1872, as the oldest Ceylonese Cricket Club. In later years, the Malay Club cricketers added finesse to their play and in 1920 became Ceylon Club Champions. In 1925, the foundation stone of the CMCC pavilion and Jainudeen Memorial Hall was laid at Rifle Green by the Hon. Morrison, officer commanding troops in Sri Lanka. The structures were erected mostly out of funds donated by Mudliyar Jainudeen. Within a year, the pavilion and Memorial Hall were opened by Sir Hugh Clifford, the then Governor of Ceylon. The Malay Cricket Club has an unbroken history of over one hundred and thirty four years. Honour was bestowed on the club when it hosted the historic meeting inaugurating a new controlling body for cricket in the country – the Ceylon Cricket Board of Control (now Sri Lanka Cricket) at the Malay CC Pavilion, at Rifle Green, Slave Island (Colombo 2) on 25th June, 1948.
When World War II broke out in 1939, Rifle Green was requisitioned and the ground and pavilion taken over by the British Government as a recruiting centre for the intake of Ceylonese to the British Armed Forces. After conclusion of the war, the British Government honourably returned Rifle Green to the Malay CC in 1945 and arrangements made for restoration of the green. However the Malays were perturbed when they learnt of plans to acquire Rifle Green for relocating the Slave Island Police Station and Quarters for personnel. While construction was apace, the pavilion was spared. However, in 1957, this too was taken over and Malay CC were asked to accept a “Police Singlemen’s Barrack” (a hut with a straw-thatched roof) at Kew Road.
Notwithstanding this setback, the CMCC persevered under the leadership of their vibrant President, B.Zahiere Lye and made representations to successive governmental authorities seeking redress for the acquisition of their Rifle Green “home”. These paid rich dividends when in 1957, the regime of the late Hon. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike allotted sufficient land for a ground at Kew Road, Slave Island. The CMCC members set about transforming this land to a cricket ground and two years later the mission was accomplished. However there was much more to be done to raise the standard of the ground. A new pavilion was also built and completed in 1960 with the Governor General, Sir Oliver Goonatilleke declaring it open at the invitation of Club President Mr. B. Zahiere Lye. The chief benefactor was showman Donovon Andree who organized a carnival and donated the proceeds for construction of the pavilion. In 1961, the ground was declared open by the then Inspector General of Police Mr. M. W.F.Abeykoon and named the PADANG. It took another two years before the ground was finally ready to take on competitive
CMCC milestones interwoven with Ceylon / Sri Lanka history
1922 – CMCC milestones interwoven with Ceylon / Sri Lanka history
1872 – Inauguration of the CMCC as the first Ceylonese cricket club
1892 – CMCC was the first to beat the indomitable Colts Cricket Club which was monopolised by the Europeans at that time, in a historic match at the Rifle Green
1895 – S.S. Hassan of the CMCC was the first Ceylonese to find a place in the All Ceylon side, which was at that time exclusively dominated by the Europeans, to play against the Straits Settlements and which team included Major Henry McCallum who came to Ceylon as the Governor.
1907 – CMCC becomes first sports institution in Ceylon to undertake a tour abroad and play cricket against a foreign team in Bombay, India.
1914 – A. C. Ahamat of CMCC captained the first Ceylonese team that met and beat a powerful Australian touring team led by E. P. Waddy.
1920 – CMCC emerged club cricket champions in Ceylon under the captaincy of Patron T. K. Burah, a lawyer.
1922 – In this Golden Jubilee year of the Club, the CMCC joins hands with other clubs to establish the country’s first centralised cricket administration, the Ceylon Cricket Association as a founder member.
1948 – The CMCC hosted, at their Rifle Green pavilion in Slave Island, the historic inauguration of a new controlling body for cricket in the country – the Ceylon Cricket Board of Control, with the hosts being a founder member and controlling club commanding two votes at the Board.
1965 – The Ceylon Cricket Association (founded in 1922) and the Ceylon Cricket Board of Control (formed in 1948) merged giving rise to the Board of Control for Cricket in Ceylon with the CMCC maintaining it’s status quo of a controlling club.
1970 – The CMCC achieves a unique distinction becoming the first ever Colombo Club Hockey team from Ceylon to participate in a foreign tournament, the 25th Annual G. Kuppasamy Naido Memorial Hockey Tournament in India.