Race for Most Popular School Cricket crowns gains momentum | Daily News


Race for Most Popular School Cricket crowns gains momentum

It is exactly a month away from the commencement of the inter-school big matches with the oldest of them all - Battle of the Blues between Royal and S.Thomas’ set to be played early next month.

The season has now reached top gear with their key first term matches. All matches played this month have special significance as the respective schools fine-tune their teams before their traditional big matches from next month.

Simultaneously, the race for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year contests too have attracted thousands of schoolchildren who support their favourite cricketers.

The key school cricket matches played during first term have attracted an encouraging number of spectators who support the emerging stars from their respective schools. Hence, the race for the most popular school cricket crowns will go hand in hand with key inter-school matches.

Winning an award at the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year mega show is a lifetime experience for any schoolboy and now schoolgirl player. Recognition at such glamorous shows would not only be an appreciation and encouragement for their achievements during the season but would also elevate them to a higher level as future Sri Lanka material.

That is exactly why all those who had been privileged to experience that great honour commend the mega show and Sunday Observer’s role in fostering school cricket for over four decades.

Many of Sri Lanka’s cricket legends are of the view that the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title they had won had been the most memorable awards in their lives and its inspiration to go places in the big league.

Since its inception way back in 1978/79, the contest has produced many top Sri Lanka cricketers who had made their mark in international cricket. That includes several legendary Sri Lanka cricketers including the world’s highest Test wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan, World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga and ICC’s Chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle.

Many past winners of the country’s Premier school cricket awards show, which has now turned out to be the Mother of all Shows, have commended the role played by the contest.

This is how they identify the show in their recent interviews on the Obsever-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year. The first ever recipient of the mega title - former Royal College, NCC and Sri Lanka captain RANJAN MADUGALLE said that Lake House and the Sunday Observer should be complimented for keeping the show going for 42 years.

“In the past, most of the winners of the top awards came from Colombo and its suburbs, but now, the outstation schools have come in a big way and it is a positive sign for the game. Sponsors are essential to keep the show going. May the show continue for many years to come,” said the ICC Chief Match Referee.

Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain and former Cabinet Minister ARJUNA RANATUNGA, who had won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year twice in 1980 and 1982, said it is the dream of any schoolboy cricketer to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award.

“It’s great to conduct the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest since 1978/79 to encourage the budding schoolboy cricketers. I was particularly happy to see that the cricketers form the North joining their counterparts in the contest,” he said.

“I am delighted to see the improvement of outstation cricket as the game has spread far and wide in the country. Many Sri Lankan cricketing giants of the past and the present are those who have either won the prestigious and coveted Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Award or won other awards at the contest,” Ranatunga added.

Ex-Nalanda captain, Sri Lanka cricketer and former Manager of the national team ASANKA GURUSINHA, the winner of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 1985, had this to say’: When Roshan Mahanama, from my school team, won this award twice in 1983 and 1984, I felt how prestigious it is to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award.

This is a very special award that everybody could not win. One has to perform exceptionally well and be consistent right throughout a season to win that – work really hard to reach the pinnacle of school career.

“The Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year show has not only produced top cricketers but some international level umpires such as Kumar Dharmasena who serves in the ICC elite panel” Gurusinha said.

An outstanding contributor of Sri Lanka’s successful 1996 World Cup victory SANATH JAYASURIYA, who had won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year – Outstation title in 1988 said that it is hard to express that great feeling.

“Not only me but also my parents, brother, relatives, coaches and school masters, they all enjoyed that cherished moment. It was a great feeling. All past winners before me, be it the All-island or Outstation, had made their mark in Sri Lanka cricket. So, when I won the title, I felt that I was getting closer to a place in the national squad,” Jayasuriya said. Former Nalanda captain KUMARA DHARMASENA, the winner of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 1989, said that it was one of the greatest moments in his career as a cricketer. “Winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title was a big inspiration. That helped and encouraged me to play for Sri Lanka.

“Winning such a big award gives a huge image and confidence as a schoolboy cricketer to go places. We were determined to reach the top of the ladder and did so with dedication,” said the ICC elite panel umpire who had now competed 50 Tests as an umpire.

Ex captain MARVAN ATAPATTU, who won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in the very next year after Dharmasena, said that he considers the mega title he won in 1990 as a ‘certification or a guarantee’ that he would play for Sri Lanka.

“When I had been performing well and scoring constantly for Ananda as a schoolboy cricketer, many considered me as a future Sri Lanka prospect.

“Although I too had felt that I had a chance, there was no guarantee. All those who had won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title before me had gone on to play for Sri Lanka with distinction. So, when I won the title, I knew that I too could join that select band,” he said.

The national mobile service provider, Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel continues to provide that ‘smart connection’ to the Cricketer of the Year Contest, which continues to enjoy the longstanding association of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA) and the Sri Lanka Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association with the blessings of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

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