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Sunday, 19 February 2012

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Observer-Mobitel Cricket Awards....:

Amalgamation of umpires’ Associations good for game

OBSERVER-MOBITEL CRICKET: The Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable shows which is a source of inspiration for the up and coming schoolboy cricketers in the country today.

The importance of the show is, selection of the nominees and the accuracy in picking the winners in the respective categories which is easily depicted if one goes through the number of recipients who have represented the country at the highest level of the game.


Nihal Pathirage - President of The Association of Cricket Umpires (Sri Lanka)

“ From Ranjan Madugalle to Roshan Mahanama, Arjuna Ranatunga and to the recent Dinesh Chandimal the list could go on and on and it will be certain that more and more talented cricketers not only in Colombo but also in the rural areas will be discovered through this show,” said Pathirage.

The President of The Association of Cricket Umpires Nihal Pathirage who is no stranger to shows of this nature. He, too was in the running for the Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer in the Year 1986 as a schoolboy at Nalanda College. Pathirage was heading the list then in the Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year All-Island for a couple of weeks.

His contemporaries former Test players Roshan Mahanama, Asanka Gurusinha, and during the latter stages of his career Kumar Dharmasena all have won the prestigious award while wicket-keeper Gamini Wickremasinghe was a good enough player to be in the contest. Pathirage was closely linked with school cricket while he was a Director at Mass Communication at Lakbima as they were closely connected to school cricket.

In 2003, Pathirage decided to go on his own and started his Apparel Industry, but he is still directly involved with school cricket on a request by Thilanga Sumathipala who is also one of his contemporaries while at Nalanda.

There are about 20,000 cricketers in schools playing in all grades in the Island and the first to see these players in action are the umpires and he regretted that most of the people still do not realise the role played by the umpires and the players who are the main actors in the whole drama.

The umpires monitor the players at the tender age of under-13 and they get the opportunity to see them in action very frequently. In the selection process the umpires play a vital role and very often their choice has been justified as most of the winners have ended up as Test players.

Pathirage has all the credentials to be the head of the ACUSL. He captained Nalanda College in 1986 and excelled as an all-rounder.

He was a member of Colombo Schools XI and later represented Bloomfield where he captained the Sara Trophy team and also captained the BRC in the under-23 tournament. Pathirage who was elected uncontested as the President of the ACUSL merged a split in the umpires fraternity by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the newly formed Association of Professional Cricket Umpires headed by former Test player Asoka de Silva.

The MOU should help the standard of the umpiring specially at school matches, as there has been a serious lapse in umpiring at school level. Now that the two sides have merged, the standard of umpiring should improve and it is good for the game.

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