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Flashback...:

Anura Ranasinghe - won Observer Schoolboy Cricket Award twice - 1974 and 1975

Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1974 and 1975... Nalanda's star All-rounder Anura Ranasinghe is not with the cricketing fraternity these days (he died a few years back), he earned his eternal rest after some great cricketing deeds. First of all, Anura Ranasinghe was picked by the umpires as Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year for two years in-a-row when the contest was sponsored by P. G. Martins.


Anura Ranasinghe

After his school cricket career had ended, Ranasinghe did not waste time and he went into English League Cricket. In an article titled "Cricket Cavaliers", Anura Ranasinghe was featured along with Kerry Packerman, Jim Allen and West Indian Lookhart Sebastian for being the most prominent players in the Lancashire and Chesire Leagues for Hyde Cricket Club.

In the Lancashire and Chesire Leagues, Anura Ranasinghe headed the batting averages with 82.80 one season.

In April 1974, eighteen-year-old Ranasinghe who figured prominently for Nalanda and Bloomfield C and AC in that cricket season, was picked "Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year" by a panel of judges headed by the then Minister of Fisheries - George Rajapakse, a top cricketer who captained Royal in his day.

There were many cricketers the judges considered, but Ranasinghe, by virtue of his success not only in school cricket, but club cricket as well, clinched the title. The opinion was that Ranasinghe, as a schoolboy then, had already shown the potential of a being a National cricketer.

Ranasinghe fine performances

Many fine performances that season brought Ranasinghe another award - Best All-rounder.

Royalist Prasanna Kariyawasam, who that season was among the runs, was picked as the Best Batsman.

St. Sebastian's Susil Fernando who was in splendid form with the bat that season, topping the 1000-run mark, challenged Kariyawasam, but had to be content with the Runners-up position.

The Best Bowler's award went to Priyalal Perera of Ananda College who claimed over 50 wickets that season ahead of Wesley's Dayalan Sellamuttu.

Prince of Wales star All-rounder Hemal Mendis who was known for his fine fielding, was picked as the Best Fielder and the runner-up was St. Anthony's Katugastota cricketer Kevin Balthazaar.

The Observer - P. G. Martin Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1974: Anura Ranasinghe of Nalanda.

Best Batsman: Prasanna Kariyawasam - Royal College. Runner-up: Susil Fernando - St. Sebastian's College, Moratuwa.

Best Bowler: Priyal Perera - Ananda College, Runner-up: Dayalan Sellamuttu - Wesley College.

Best All-rounder: Anura Ranasinghe - Nalanda College.

Best Fielder: Hemal Mendis - Prince of Wales, Moratuwa. Runner-up: Kevin Balthazaar - St. Anthony's College, Katugastota.

Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year: Hemal Mendis - Prince of Wales.

Best Fielder

In the final round were: Lanka Perera (Isipathana MV), C. Bernadus (St. Joseph's College), T.M.S. Saldin (Royal College), Hiran Jayasundera (St. Anthony's College, Katugastota), Lalith Ratnayake (S. Thomas College, Mt. Lavinia).

Lanka Perera's superior wicket-keeping was given the preference and he was picked as the Best Fielder. Lalith Ratnayake was picked as runner-up.

Outstation Star

The judges felt that the award for the Outstation Star cricketer should be kept strictly to the lesser known schools in the outstations as an incentive for the players in those schools. Consequently cricketers from Trinity College, Kandy, St. Anthony's College, Katugastota were not considered for this award as they have regular fixtures with the better known schools in Colombo. Schools like Dharmapala, Pannipitiya, Prince of Wales and St. Sebastian's of Moratuwa and other schools that came into the Colombo Zones too were not considered.

For the final round, the following cricketers were considered:

Ishak Sahabdeen (St. Sylvester's), D. Withanage (Dharmaraja College), A.K. Yapa (Mahinda College), R. Naguleswaran (Jaffna Central).

Of the lot, Ishak Sahabdeen's allround performances that season was given due recognition and he was picked as the Best Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year.

The judges also gave due recognition to the bowling performances of Jaffna Central's R. Naguleswaran and he was picked as runner-up. Same year number two and Anura Ranasinghe continued his fine run and it was two-in-a-row for the star All-rounder Anura Ranasinghe in the Observer-P. G. Martin's Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest.

The panel of judges headed by George Rajapakse - the Minister of Fisheries made this decision. The other members of the panel of judges were: Camillus Perera, K. T. Ponnambalam, Royle Barthelot, H.C. Felsinger and Errol Seneviratne.

Anura Ranasinghe turned out to be an automatic choice for the coveted honour as he was unquestionably the outstanding cricketer among the schools. His batting and bowling that season was top grade.

He was the outstanding schoolboy cricketer and he was picked to represent Sri Lanka against the West Indies in February that year while still in school. He also won the award for the Best All-rounder for the second successive year.

Sectional winners

Best Batsman: Sidath Wettimuny - Ananda College, runner-up: Susil Fernando - St. Sebastian's College, Moratuwa.

Best Bowler: Ajith Ganeshan - S. Thomas College, Mt. Lavinia, runner-up: Ishak Sahabdeen, St. Sylvester's, Kandy.

Best All-rounder (runner-up): Rohan Perera - Tinity College.

Best Fielder: Lanka Perera - Isipathana College, runner-up: Lalith Ratnayake - S. Thomas College, Mt. Lavinia.

Best Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer: Ishak Sahabdeen - St. Sylvester's College, Kandy, runner-up: R. Naguleswaran - Jaffna Central.

For the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest, the judges as usual, considered sportsmanship on and off the field, besides the performance of the cricketers. For the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, the judges considered the performances during that year of: Anura Ranasinghe (Nalanda), Susil Fernando (St. Sebastian's, Moratuwa), Sidath Wettimuny (Ananda College), P. Kariyawasam (Royal College) and Rohan Perera (Trinity College).

Out of five cricketers who came into the final round, Anura Ranasinghe was unanimously picked as the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year.

Best Batsman

The same procedure was followed in deciding the sectional winners:

For the best Batsman's award, those who came into the semi-final round were: Sidath Wettimuny (Ananda College), Prasanna Kariyawasam (Royal College), Rohan Wijesinghe (St. Joseph's College), Mohan de Silva (S. Thomas' College, Mt. Lavinia), Wirantha Fernando (Prince of Wales College), Susil Fernando (St. Sebastian's Moratuwa), F.R.R. Arthur (Trinity College), Ishak Sahabdeen (St. Sylvester's College, Kandy), Dushan Soza (St. Joseph's College). For the final round, Ganeshan, Sahabdeen and Rohan Perera were considered and of them Ganeshan was picked as the Best Bowler. He had taken over 50 wickets in the 1974-75 season. Sahabdeen was picked as runner-up.

Best All-rounder

For the semi-final round the performances of the following cricketers were considered: Anura Ranasinghe, Rohan Perera, Lantra Fernando, Ishak Sahabdeen, A.K. Yapa (Mahinda College).

Ranasinghe's fine performance during the season was duly recognised by the judges and he was picked as the Best All-rounder in addition to being selected as the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year.

Trinity skipper that year Rohan Perera was picked as runner-up.

 

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