Kumar, former winner now in Elite Umpires Panel
Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer: Kumara Dharmasena, the 1989
Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year has been a prominent figure in
the contest during his school going days at Nalanda College.
He, not only became the 1989 Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, he was
also the runner-up for the main award the previous year (1988) that was
not all. He won the Best Allrounder’s award for three consecutive years
in 1988, 89’ 90. In 1990, his final year at Nalanda College he was voted
as the Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of The Year and also the runner
up Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year.
This achievement of his in the competition will be hard to beat.
Dharmasena, who was a member of the World Cup winning team in 1996
under Arjuna Ranatunga, reached another milestone in his career recently
when he was elected to the Elite Panel of International Cricket Umpires,
the youngest to achieve such a honour at 40 years and 44 days.
Australian umpire Simon Taufel was the youngest prior to Dharmasena,
being elected to the Elite Panel of International Cricket Umpires at the
age of 40 years and 137 days.
The former Sri Lanka all rounder who took up to umpiring due to his
unprecedented passion for the game, said that umpiring is a more
difficult job than playing as it needs tremendous concentration. “Having
played the game at the highest level, it has helped me a lot to build
the confidence while officiating. Players of the calibre of Ricky
Ponting, Sachin Tendulkar, Jacque Kallis who were my contemporaries are
still involved in Test cricket. An umpire is the closest individual to a
player while playing”, Dharmasena said.
Expressing his views with regard to the Observer-Mobitel Competition,
Dharmasena said that a contest of this nature will undoubtedly give the
due recognition to the up and coming players and most of the recipients
have gone on to represent the country at the highest level. This doesn’t
merely apply to the Colombo Schools, but to the winners from the
Outstation Schools as well. Just one example is Tharanga Paranavithana
of St. Mary’s College, Kegalle the present Sri Lanka Test opener, was
the Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer sometime ago. Inspired by this
success, he joined the Sinhalese Sports Club and from there he launched
his international career. There are many cricketers with latent talent
in the city, suburbs and in the villages. As cricket is no more confined
to Colombo, more and more players from the rural areas are bound to gain
recognition in the future, and this is good for the game.
Dharmasena has represented the country in 31 Test matches and 141
ODI’s. He has 69 Test wickets and 139 ODI wickets to his name. He has
scored 1,200 Test runs and 1400 ODI runs. He is a qualified coach, but
preferred umpiring in order to give something in return to the game.
Dharmasena is an umpire who rapidly rose to the top. He began his
umpiring career in 2006 and two years later, he joined the International
Panel of Umpires and in 2009 stood in his first ODI against India. The
following year (2010), he was selected to officiate in his First Test
match against New Zealand and India in Ahamedabad.
From there onwards it was no looking back for Dharmasena, and
recently was elevated to the ICC Elite Panel of Cricket Umpires.
Dharmasena commended the Sunday Observer for conducting the contest
for more than three decades and he had a good ‘word’ for the sponsors
too. “Without sponsorship, there cannot be success”, he said.
The 40-year-old former allrounder, is a utility player who has
rescued Sri Lanka on many occasions while the chips were down. The role
Dharmasena played in the 1996 World Cup semi- final against India which
took Sri Lanka into the final, was a vital one in having the Indian
captain Mohammed Azharuddin caught off his own bowling while the
pressure was mounting in the Indian camp at Eden Gardens in Calcutta.