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DateLine Sunday, 9 March 2008

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The show that produces cricketing legends is on

Observer - Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year:


The Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest, which has produced Sri Lanka's cricketing legends for the past 29 years, has gained national status. Sri Lanka Cricket has given its blessings to the 30th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest which starts today with the voting for the Most Popular cricketer - All-Island and Outstation awards.

It is the original show that goes on and on, maintaining its rich traditions. Over the years, the contest has produced some of the greatest Sri Lanka cricketers - Ranjan Madugalle, Arjuna Ranatunga, Muttiah Muralitharan, Roshan Mahanama, Asanka Gurusinha, Marvan Atapattu and Kumara Dharmasena, to name a few.

Chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket, Arjuna Ranatunga, who has twice won this coveted award during his school days at Ananda, said it would be the dream of any schoolboy cricketer to win the Observer 'crown'.

He thanked the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited and Sunday Observer for the contribution made during the past three decades, recognising the talents of schoolboy cricketers.

Sri Lanka's fastest growing mobile communication provider - Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel will be the new proud sponsor of the contest, organised by the ANCL in association with Sri Lanka Cricket, Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association and the Sri Lanka Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association.

Voting for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year - All-Island and Outstation contests would commence today.

Voting coupons will appear on page 19 and 20. Voting coupons will also be published in the Daily News, Dinamina, Thinakaran and Kreeda from tomorrow.

****

30th OBSERVER-MOBITEL Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year - 2008:

Voting begins



Flashback: Marvan Atapattu - with the glittering trophy he won as the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer in 1990

Sri Lanka's first and the original awards ceremony for teenagers - the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest would open a new chapter in its 30th year with the 'original show' being elevated to a national event in association with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

Connecting the 30-year-old Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year to the world would be Sri Lanka's fastest growing mobile communication provider - the Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel.

Voting for the Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year - All-Island and Outstation, contests would begin from today as the landmark event in the annals of Sri Lanka cricket completes its third decade.

Voting coupons for the 30th OBSERVER-MOBITEL Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year - 2008 most popular contests would appear in the Sunday Observer, Daily News, Dinamina, Thinakaran and Kreeda publications of the ANCL from today.

Readers of the Sunday Observer, who have been voting for this popular contest for the past 29 years, will have an added advantage of sending two votes for their favourite schoolboy cricketer as there will be two coupons each for the All-Island and Outstation contests. One voting coupon each would be published in the Daily News, Dinamina, Thinakaran and Kreeda from tomorrow.

Readers could also vote for their favourite schoolboy cricketers from International schools under the All-Island category. This is the first time in the history of the contest that international school cricketers would be coming to limelight.

Chief Marketing Officer of Mobitel, Nalin Perera said they are honoured to join the original contest which had commenced way back in 1979.

Mobitel will be only the third sponsor in the history of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest series after Warner-Hudnut and Bata. Former Sri Lanka Test captain and present ICC Chief Match Referee, Ranjan Madugalle won the Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the year 'crown' when Warner-Hudnut sponsored the inaugural event in 1979.

Mobitel's presence as the new sponsor of the much looked forward to event would further strengthen the original show which has recognised schoolboy talent over the years. It will be the SLT Mobitel that would provide that 'SMART connection' to the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest, conducted by the Associated Newspaper of Ceylon Limited.

Apart from the new SLC association, the OBSERVER-MOBITEL Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest will have the usual backing of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA) and the Sri Lanka Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association.

Sri Lanka Cricket has already appointed former Sri Lanka Test leg spinner D.S. de Silva as its representative. 'DS' as he is better known, would add strength as he oversees school cricket for SLC.

Chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket, Arjuna Ranatunga was a happy man to see the schoolboy cricketer of the year show going from strength to strength. He commended the Sunday Observer for recognising the talent in the school cricket arena for decades and said the SLC would give its fullest support to the contest which is a motivation and inspiration to budding schoolboy cricketers.

Ranatunga is no stranger to the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest, having won the school cricket plum twice - in 1980 and 1982, for his outstanding contribution as a versatile schoolboy cricketer from Ananda.

The SLC chief said it would be the dream of any schoolboy cricketer to be crowned the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the year. Sri Lanka's World Cup winning captain said the SLC would support the Sunday Observer and the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL) in their endeavour to promote school cricket, giving due recognition and appreciation for tomorrow's cricketing heroes.

The new sponsor of the show - SLT Mobitel has opened a new chapter in the contest's three-decade old history by introducing a special segment - the Most Popular school cricket team - All-Island and Outstation contest, in which the winners would be picked through Short Message Service (SMS) and Internet Voting.

However, the rich traditions of the contest would be continued as all other winners, including the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, Best Batsman, Best Bowler, Best All-rounder, Best Fielder, Best Captain and Best Teams (All Island and Outstations) would be picked by a special panel of judges, which includes the umpires, schools association officials and reputed former Sri Lanka cricketers.

It's your turn to identify tomorrow's cricketing heroes and vote for them!

****

Here's what past winners have to say...

CRICKET: The Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest opened the door for budding cricketers to further their interest in the game. The contest is a forerunner for cricketers to gain recognition at highest level.

Ranjan Madugalle was the Observer first Schoolboy Cricketer of the year in 1979 and (earlier in 1978 Madugalle won the award when the contest was sponsored by Warner-Hudunut Limited. Madugalle needs no introduction in cricket, be it in Sri Lanka or in the outside world these days.

He is a past Sri Lanka captain and what's most important is the fact that he was the youngest in the international panel of match referees and was in charge of 1999 World Cup final and now is the Chief Match Referee of the ICC.

The fact that these contests cater to the very best is reflected in the results. Arjuna Ranatunga: (Ananda College) Captain of the World Cup team of 1996. He was the Observer Contest in 1980 and 1982. He is now the President of Sri Lanka Cricket.

Roshan Mahanama: (Nalanda College) ICC Match Referee was crowned as the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year twice in 1983 and 1984.

Sanath Jayasuriya: was a schoolboy at St. Servatius College Matara and won the Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award and was later the Sri Lanka skipper after Arjuna Ranatunga.

Marvan Atapattu: (Ananda College) Won the Observer Contest in 1990 went on to captain the Sri Lanka team with success.

Muttiah Muralitharan: (St. Anthony's College, Katugastota). The worlds highest wicket taker. Won the main award in 1991.

Thilan Samaraweera: (Ananda) Represented Sri Lanka. On par with Madugalle, Ranatunga, Mahanama winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year on two occasions in 1994 and 1995.

Muthumudalige Pushpakumara (Ananda College) won contest in 1999.

Kaushal Lokuarachchi (St. Peter's College) won contest in 2001 and Farveez Maharoof, (Wesley College) won contest in 2003. He is a member of Sri Lanka team.

Comments by some of the Sri Lanka cricketers who have won the main award:

Ranjan Madugalle:

Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited and the Observer should be complemented for keeping the show going for all these years. Sponsors are essential. May the show continue for many years to come.

He said that 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 was a good sign for the game.

Arjuna Ranatunga:

It's great for the Sunday Observer in continuing the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest for the 29th year from 1979 to encourage the budding schoolboy cricketers. I was particularly happy to see that the Northern Province will join up with the others in the competitions at the contest.

Soon I am happy at the improvement of outstation cricket as the game has spread far and wide in the country. We should consider ourselves privileged to be associated with the process of nurturing these young men into the global arena of international cricket.

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 one of the many awards presented at the contest.

Kumar Dharmasena:

Has taken to big-time cricket umpiring. A member of the 1996 World Cup winning team. I must congratulate ANCL and Sunday Observer for keeping the show going for over 25 years. Sponsors are vital for the progress of sports in a country and ANCL has taken the lead and it helps the authorities to build up the youth.

Development of youth is very important as the youth are the ones who will take the country forward. The contest has been in existence for 28 years and the competition is a fore-runner in helping the schoolboy to perform well, added Dharmasena.

The Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest gave all the encouragement for me to forge ahead in the cricket world, said former Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu. He was picked the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1990 and he was also picked as the Best Batsman that year.

Marvan complimented the ANCL and Observer for keeping the show going for all these years. Schoolboy cricketers should be encouraged on a larger scale. This contest is sure to identify the talent and the high performances. Atapattu was confident that the up-and-coming schoolboy cricketers follow the same example set by those who won top awards at the contest.

Thilan Samaraweera:

Twice winner of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Award 1994-1995. He says he owes his climb to the top in cricket due to this popular contest. Thilan who won the plum in 1994 and 1995 also won the Best Batsman and Best All-rounder awards on both occasions.

He endorsed this long standing contest as the best for schoolboy cricketers. Thilan was of the view that Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest proved to be one of the best in the country. "I am indeed happy that this contest has continued for over 25 years and my wish is that it goes on for at least another 25 years."

Thilan also said cricketers from lesser known school like Ginigathena MV, Poramadulla MV, Kularatne MV, Revatha MV, Kalutara MV to name a few, are now playing competitive cricket due to the interest shown for the contest.

Farveez Maharoof:

Won the award in 2003. He said that about 90 per cent of Sri Lanka cricket team has won awards in this contest. The game of cricket is now not confined to the popular schools.

The game has spread throughout Sri Lanka. It is indeed happy to note more outstation cricketers have gained selections to Sri Lanka 'A" team Development Pool, Under-19 squad and the National team.

He said that Observer show has been well received as the selections made by the umpires have been good throughout.

The selections have had the desired results as those selected for awards have gone on to represent Sri Lanka.

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