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DateLine Sunday, 1 June 2008

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Lahiru Peiris - Observer Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer in 2004 and 2005

By Leslie Fernando

CRICKET: Lahiru Peiris, the St. Peterís College Cricket captain of 2006 who is celebrates his 21st birthday today (June 1st). He became the first Peterite to win the Observer Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest - All Island twice in 2004 and 2005. The elegant right-hand batsman, Lahiru, was also picked as the runner-up to Nalandian Gihan Rupasinghe in the 2006 Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest.


Lahiru Peiris Observer Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer in 2004 and 2005

The young and energetic Managing Director at Peumi Pharama (Pvt) Ltd, at Moratuwa, Lahiru has started to turn out for Sebastanites SC in the Premier League Cricket Tournament despite the big responsibilities that he has to attend to daily.

The high point of his school career was his match-saving defiant unbeaten century III not out with 13 boundaries for St. Peterís in the 2006 ĎBig Matchí against the traditional rivals St. Josephís College played at the Saravanamuttu Stadium.

St. Josephís elected to bat first and declared with a formidable total of 335 for 5. St. Peterís in reply were dismissed for 193 and the Petrites were facing a big defeat as they were forced to follow-on. Lahiru played a sheet-anchor role to pull the Peterites out of the mess.

Lahiru, coming in at number four batted with courage to remain unbeaten at the close with that unbeaten centures. St. Peterís were 279 for 3. He shared two valuable partnerships, first with S. Gunaratne for the third wicket (131) and with Anuk Silva 97 for the 4th wicket.

Lahiru started playing cricket in 1999 and has captained the under-13 and under-15 and 1st XI teams. In the final round match in the under-13 tournament Lahiru scored his first century 113 with Wesley College at Campbell Park grounds.

He toured Chennai and Bangalore with the under-13 division one champion team in 2000. Lahiru has played in several all-island inter district tournaments conducted by the BCCSL and has performed well. He toured with the national under-15 team to United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the under-15 Asia Cup and he scored two half centuries against Pakistan and UAE.

He has been a member of the Peterite 1st eleven team for four years in-a-row 2003 to 2006. He scored 560 runs and captured 13 wickets with off-spin in the 2004 season, the highest being against Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa unbeaten 76.

Lahiru played in the ĎBig Matchí and 50-over limited over game against Joes and did well. Played in the Elephant Lemonade tourney and hit a fine 70 against Lumbini MV in the final round match in 2004.

He went on a scholarship to Australia in 2003 arranged by the Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria. He played for Carey Baptist Grammer School in Kew and did exceptionally well and was awarded the batting trophy.

Whilst in Melbourne, Lahiru also played for the Old Peterite cricket team that won the one-day six-a-side competition conducted at the Barry Simon Reserve Hills on Australia Day. Dr. Quntus de Zylva, the President of the Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria was a source of great assistance to Lahiru when he was in Melbourne.

In the year 2005, he became the Sri Lanka Schools under-19 Best Batsman. He was among the 25 players in the squad for the Under-19 World Cup to England, but was unlucky not to be included in the side. Lahiru, for the second time, went to Australia for a scholarship at the invitation of Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation of Victoria.

On this occasion too, Dr. Quintus de Zylva together with Whinstone Foenander, the President of Old Peterite SC arranged Lahiruís scholarship to Australia.

During the 2005 school cricket season, Lahiru showed his class to score over 650 runs including four half centuries against Royal, De Mazenod, Presidentís College Kotte and Gurukula MV.

He was given the opportunity to lead the Peterite team in the last 13 games due to regular skipper Hans Fernando doing national duty with the under-19 team in England.

Lahiru performed well and led the team with authority. He guided the Peterites to victory against Royal after a long period of time and also helped them to gain three wins and the rest of the games ended in no decisions. But Peterites gained first innings lead. In the annual limited-over match against Josephians, Lahiru hit a superb half century (55) to guide Peterites to victory at R. Premadasa Stadium at Khettarama.

His best performance in inter-school cricket was in the year 2006. Lahiru captained the Peterite team admirably to be unbeaten. Under his clever leadership, St. Peterís College recorded four outright wins and in all other games, gained first innings lead. He was well supported by his teammates during the entire season. He scored 497 runs with III not out being the highest score against the Josephians in the ĎBig Matchí.

Lahiru was presented a special award and colours from the Sri Lanka Schools Sports Council for his 2005 and 2006 performances in cricket.

He has been a leading figure in the St. Peterís College cricket team and no doubt has helped the Peterites in a big way in becoming the Best Cricket Team in the All-Island Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest. The St. Peterís College champion cricket team was represented by Lahiru Peiris (captain), Uma Samsudeen (vice captain) Anuk Silva, D.C. Udugamsooriya, Lakshan Rodrigo, Tivanka Silva, Shan Gunaratne, Chathura Peiris, Vishal Magage, Chanaka Fernando, Angelo Perera, Chathura Peiris, Shivanga Rangasooriya, Ruwan Wickremanayake, Jayan Karunanayake, Mevan Samarasekera, Chevan Edirisinghe, Surnaga Rodrigo.

He had a number of successes at St. Peterís and it was quite natural that he was picked as the Best Batsman-All Island in the 2006 Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest. He has also picked as runner-up for the main award. Lakshan Rodrigo won the Best Bowlerís Award and D.C. Udugamsooriya won the Best Allrounderís award (both Peterites) in the 2006 contest All-Island. It was a fine showing by the Peterites winning four awards in the 2006 contest.

After leaving school, Lahiru did not find much time to continue playing big time club cricket as he was occupied following management trainee and administrative course.

He is ever grateful to his parents, Rev. Fr. Travis Gabriel, Rector St. Peterís College, Rev. Fr. Sunil Ranjith Perera, Sports Co-ordinator of St. Peterís, Wasantha Hapuarachchi, Master-in-Charge of Cricket who have been a source of inspiration to Lahiruís cricket career.

Lahiru also thanked his first coach Janaka de Silva, L.H. Sunil one of the best junior coaches and Roger Wijesooriya.

Lahiru who made an exceptional start in his school career as a fine batsman was unable to play for major club immediately after leaving school. He said that he has now started playing for his home town club. Sebastianites SC and hopes to do well.

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