School cricket standard declines, steps must be taken to upgrade it
- Chairman Selectors
Former Sri Lanka Test opening bowler and the present Chairman
Selectors Ashantha de Mel, while commending the Sunday Observer/Mobitel
Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Show lamented of the drastic drop of the
standard of school cricket.
Ashantha de Mel
He stressed that remedies should be taken to restore the standard of
school cricket which is described as the cradle of Sri Lanka cricket.
De Mel who won the Best Bowler’s Award (All Island) in 1978, when his
teammate Ranjan Madugalle was adjudged the Schoolboy Cricketer of the
Year, said that the present day school cricketers are far behind than
the ones during his era which had quality players.
“During the past, one could spot a potential Test player during the
school cricket season. But now, it is not the case with so many matches
played, the school cricket authorities opt more for quantity rather than
quality. The coaches too, are more result oriented than making a player
technically sound,” he said. De Mel said that one of the main reasons
for the drop in the standard of school cricket today, is due to the
junior matches (U-13, U-15, Under-17) being conducted in a limited overs
“This system is not good for a youngster. It doesn’t make a player
fully technically equipped,” De Mel said. The former Sri Lanka paceman
De Mel, was fortunate to be a member of the Royal team in their
centenary ‘Battle of The Blues’ encounter against S. Thomas’ in 1979.
Ranjan Madugalle was the Royal captain. Both Madugalle and Ashantha de
Mel were members of the Inaugural Test Match played against England in
1982. At present, Madugalle is the ICC Chief Match Referee while De Mel
is the Chairman Selection Committee of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board.
De Mel’s lively medium pace had troubled many top players during his
17-Test match career, where he captured 59 wickets in an era when fewer
Test matches were played. During that time there was a steady influx of
quality medium pacers of the calibre of Rumesh Ratnayake, Saliya
Ahangama, Vinothan John, Ravi Ratnayake and Graeme Labrooy to name a
few. Among the batsmen too, there were many top class players.
He concluded saying that he has not been involved in the school
cricket arena in the recent past, but it was quite apparent that the
school cricket authorities should make plans to induce more quality than
quantity into school cricket for a better future.
The sponsors have done an admirable job by conducting the contest for
over three decades and he hoped that the show will go on to produce
better cricketers for the future.