Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 22 April 2012





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Government Gazette

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 basis.

“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.



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