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Bhanuka Rajapakse joins elite band of cricketers

OBSERVER-MOBITEL SCHOOLBOY CRICKETER: Former Royal College Captain Bhanuka Rajapakse achieved the unique feat to join the elite band of schoolboy cricketers when he was judged The Sunday Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the year for the second successive year (2010 and 2011) at a glittering ceremony held at the Hotel Galadari Ballroom amidst a distinguished gathering last Monday.


Sanka Ramesh (Moratu Vidyalaya) Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year (Outstation). receives his award from Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella

Prior to Rajapakse, only former Sri Lanka World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga (1980-1982), Roshan Mahanama (1983-1984), Thilan Samaraweera ( 1994-1995) and Lahiru Pieris (2004-2005) have won the contest on two occasions. In the 33-year-old history, ,Bhanuka Rajapakse became only the third Royalist to win the coveted award. Previously Madugalle (1979) and Roshan Jurangpathy (1986) now domiciled in Australia, won it.

Jurangpathy made his Test debut against India when Ranatunga and Madugalle were also members in the same team under Duleep Mendis.

First a swimmer

Bhanuka Rajapakse, speaking to the Sunday Observer soon after he had won the school cricket crown, said that he excelled as a swimmer in his younger days, but had to give up the water sport due to a life threatening illness. “ I was down with meningitis, a brain effecting disease and doctors advised me not to dive. So I took up to cricket. I have studied right throughout at Royal and represented the schools under 19 team which has really opened the doors for me. I will concentrate more on cricket but I hope to live a balanced life, without mixing up cricket and studies” he said.

He represented the Under 19 Team at the last World Cup in New Zealand and played a prominent role which has helped him to captain an Under 19 team when their counterparts from England arrived last year. Bhanuka, in the two ‘Tests’ that he played, scored 309 runs with a top score of 149 averaging 103 runs. Among the other players in that team who were recipients in this year’s Schoolboy Cricketer Of the Year competition, were: Amila Aponso who won the Best Bowlers Award (All Island), Dhananjaya de Silva _ Best All- Rounder and Runner-up Schoolboy Cricketer Of the Year (All Island), Lahiru Abeyratne (Runner-Up Best Fielder, All Island) and Shehan Jayasuriya (Runner Up Best Batsman, All Island).

Best Captain (All-Island): Akila Jayasundera of Trinity College receives the award from Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella. ANCL Chairman Bandula Padmakumara is also in the picture.

Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year (Outstation): Keshan Gamage of Vidyartha College, Kandy receives his award from Senior Associate Editor Sunday Observer Pramod de Silva and Senior Chief Sub Editor Sunday Observer Dudley Jansz on left.

Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2011 Bhanuka Rajapakse (Royal College, Colombo) fourth from left with VIP officials from left Mahindananda Aluthgamage - Minister of Sports, Dinesh Weerawansa the Editor-in-Chief Sunday Observer, Wijesiri Ambawatte Director Telecom/Mobitel, Bandula Padmakumar Chairman/Managing Director , Muttaiah Muralitharan(chief guest) and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella.

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