Thilan Samaraweera won the Observer/Mobitel Cricket Contest in
The Sunday Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest
is a much looked forward to event and Thilan Samaraweera was a another
player who won the contest in consecutive years. He blossomed out as a
top all-rounder with his tantalising off spin bowling and steady batting
in both years. He won the contest in the years 1994 and 1995.
Thilan Samaraweera - winner in 1994 and 1995
While Samaraweera was making his mark as an all-rounder for Ananda,
in the same year Mahela Jayawardene was a prolific scorer for Nalanda,
winning the Best Batsman’s award .
Jayawardene and Samaraweera began their race for national honours
together, but Mahela found himself making his Test debut very much
earlier (1997) than Samaraweera because of his matured batting.
Jayawardene made his Test debut against India under Arjuna Ranatunga in
the Test where Sanath Jayasuriya scored a triple hundred (340) and
Roshan Mahanama got a double hundred (225). This two set a record second
wicket stand of 576 in a gigantic Sri Lankan total of 952 for 6
declared. Jayawardene’s contribution was a half century (66) and made
his Test debut on a sound footing.
Both, Samaraweera and Jayewardene were selected to play in South
Africa as the two most promising schoolboy batsmen. They were two
players earmarked as potential Sri Lankan players as both went to gain
their Test ‘caps’.
The steady Samaraweera made his Test debut against India in 2001 at
the SSC grounds. He has played in 81 Test matches and has scored 5,462
runs with a highest score of 231. In the 53 ODI’s, Samaraweera has
represented the country, he has a top score of 105. He was essentially
classed as a Test player and was not considered for ODI because of his
sedate style of batting.
Later, Samaraweera adjusted his batting style to suit the limited
overs style and fared remarkably well in the shorter version of the game
too. Samaraweera was a fighting cricketer who never gave up. He was one
of those players who was badly affected in the Lahore terrorist attack
when Sri Lanka last toured Pakistan. But he fought back his way amidst
Originally dropped from the Sri Lanka team, he proved his class when
he was included in the team to tour South Africa and batted
exceptionally well to silence his detractors. However, Samaraweera lost
his place in the national side after a tour to Australia where he
couldn’t live up to expectations and was not included in the Sri Lankan
squad to meet Bangladesh in a home series early this year. Disappointed,
Samaraweera was not hesitant to ‘call it a day’ and announced his
retirement from International cricket and thereafter he played in the
English county circuit .
The champion cricketer from Ananda who twice won the award said that
the Sunday Observer Schoolboy Cricketer Award is the stepping stone for
any youngster who wants to pursue in his cricketing career. It was the
contest looked forward to in the school cricket season. Looking back,
there are many award winners who have ended up representing the country
at the highest level. This contest will provide more young cricketers
with opportunities in the future. It gives a lot of confidence for the
number of recipients in all categories to forge ahead.