Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 25 March 2012





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Duleep, the cricketing giant of all times

The Sunday Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of The Year showpiece is an incentive for the young players who are hoping to reach the zenith in cricket at school level which is described as the cradle of cricket in this country.

Duleep Mendis,was the second player to captain the country at Test level after Bandula Warnapura who had the honour to lead Sri Lanka in the first Test against England in February 1982. Mendis while commending the efforts of conducting the show for three decades said that it is important that it maintains the quality rather than quantity. Duleep Mendis a schoolboy prodigy won the Most Outstanding Schoolboy Cricketer Of The Year award in the early 70s while at St. Sebastian's College Moratuwa. He subsequently joined. S. Thomas' and soon after the 1972 Royal-Thomian 'big match' went to represent Sri Lanka against Pakistan during the Pre-Test era in 1972. The Pakistan team was captained by Intikhab Alam and had the players of the class of Zaheer Abbass, Majid Khan, Sarfraz Nawaz. Asif Masood, Asif Iqbal and Wasim Bari to name a few. From that point onwards there was no stopping of Mendis who made a rapid climb as he was a regular and a popular figure in the team.

Mendis who has the highest regard for the show however, lamented on the drop of quality of school cricket played during a hectic season. He pointed out that the main reason for the drop in standard was the schools playing excessive matches which is an energy draining exercise for the schoolboy.

“During my time and even before our standard of school cricket was rated as the best in the World and it was a great challenge, everything was well organised but today it cannot be classed as the same. While doing sports one should not neglect their studies. Now there are lot of school matches played on week days due to the amount of matches that has to be completed in a tight schedule. This dilutes the players' performance and also loses the interest among spectators. A schoolboy needs the correct balance with sports and studies going hand-in-hand. Even while entering a university in another country this aspect is taken into consideration with great care,“ said Duleep Mendis the former Sri Lanka captain who has served Sri Lanka Cricket at top level in various capacities.

Mendis had the honour of leading two schools firstly St. Sebastian's Moratuwa and thereafter S. Thomas' College Mount Lavinia. He excelled as a hard hitting batsman in both schools. While at S. Thomas' he struck an unbeaten 103 in the 1971 Battle Of The Blues encounter and in the following year he top scored with 184 which still stands the highest individual score for the Thomians in the 'big match' series.

In his 24 Test match career he captained Sri Lanka from 1982 to 1987 and beat India to register the first Test win. As a batsman he has scored 4 Test hundreds which includes twin tons against India (105 and 105)at Chepauk. He missed another opportunity of scoring twin hundreds against England at Lords in 1984 (110 and 94).


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