The most effective for schools – Duleep
Former Sri Lanka Test captain Duleep Mendis who is back in the Island
after a short coaching stint in Oman, took a bit of his time to say that
the Sunday Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of The Year Contest as
one of the most effective contests in recognising schoolboy cricketers.
It has recognised young schoolboy talent for the past 34 years and has
produced many captains and Test and Sri Lanka cricketers in no uncertain
terms during the past three decades. Mendis said that although he has
not won any awards in any contests , he could faintly remember winning
an award in an outstation contest while at St. Sebastian’s College,
Moratuwa, which was categorised as an outstation school during his
playing days at the Moratuwa school.
Going down memory lane from Ranjan Madulaglle who won the first
contest in 1978, and there after Arjuna Ranatunga who twice won the
coveted award, it has been a steady influx of the cream of Sri Lanka
cricketers coming through the process. He wished all the very best for
the Sunday Observer/ Mobitel Cricket Contest for the future.
The hard-hitting right-hander Mendis was a bowler’s nightmare even
during his school playing days. He hammered a hurricane century in the
annual ‘Battle Of The Blues’ between Royal and S. Thomas’ which kept the
crowd spellbound and was quite evident that be would make the top grade
in the near future.
Prior to Sri Lanka gaining full Test status in 1981, Mendis made his
debut for his country in 1972 soon after leaving S. Thomas’ in an
Unofficial Test match against Pakistan at the P. Sara Stadium. He was a
member of the Sri Lanka’s Inaugural World Cup Team in 1975 captained by
Anura Tennekoon. Although losing to Australia, captained by Ian Chapell,
Mendis along with Sunil Wettimuny, both who suffered injuries while
facing the ‘thunderbolts’ of Jeff Thomson, gave a spirited batting
display to give the Aussies many anxious moments.
Mendis, made his Test debut ten years later in February1982, playing
in the first ever Sri Lanka Test team against England. He has played in
24 Test matches and captained the team after Bandula Warnapura.
In Mendis’ 1,324 Test runs, he has four hundreds and has scored twin
hundreds against India 105 in each innings at Chepauk in 1982/1983. He
also missed twin hundreds against England at Lord’s by scoring 111 in
the first innings and 94 in the second innings.
Mendis played another memorable century with Roy Dias who also struck
a hundred when they saved the side from a certain defeat at the Asgiriya
Stadium in 1985. He played his last Test in 1988, against England at
Lord’s. Thereafter he served SLC in various capacities and managed the
World Cup winning team in 1996.