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Observer-Mobitel Contest has given encouragement to young cricketers

The Sunday Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer Of The Year Contest is one of the most looked forward to competitions by any schoolboy. The competition gives a lot of pleasure and encouragement for the schoolboy cricketer who looks forward to pursue his cricketing career and gives the player a lot of confidence.


Kithuruwan Vithanage

It has proved time and again when looking back that many who had won the title has ended up representing the country at the highest level. These views were the sentiments aired by one of Sri Lanka's 'new finds' Kithuruwan Vithanage who had won a couple awards in the 2010 contest.

Not many schoolboy cricketers have won two awards in one contest, but Vithanage, the former Royal College all-rounder took the Best Batsman's award (All Island) on merit, and was voted by the readers as the Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer Of The Year 2010, (All Island) at the 32nd Sunday Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer Of The Year Contest. He continued saying that the three segments Platinum, Gold and a Silver have further widened the opportunities for the emergence of more talented players, particularly from rural schools.

It has made possible for the lads from the far away schools to gather on stage. Vithanage had a successful school cricket career at Royal College, Colombo and showed early signs as a potential player due to his fighting all-round qualities. As a left hand batsman who could fit into any position, Kithuruwan, could change the complexion of the game with his aggressive style of batting.

He was so impressive during his school days and quickly found a place in a Development Squad team as a hard hitting batsman and a useful leg spinner.

Kithruwan's all-round capabilities were seen in an under 19 home triangular cricket series against Pakistan,Bangladesh and host Sri Lanka. In their match against Pakistan, Vithanage rescued the side from a certain defeat and converted it into a emphatic win with a blistering unbeaten 75 when Sri Lanka were precariously placed at 98 for 5, chasing a stiff victory target. In spite of missing several school games for his school Royal that year due to his involvement with under 19 tours to England, Australia, New Zealand and at home, won the best batsman's prize that year.

His consistent batting helped him to make his Test debut in March 2013 against Bangladesh at the Galle Cricket Stadium. His selection was proved beyond doubt as he struck a fine 169 in a tour game a week prior to the Test match against Bangladesh.

Kithuruwan has played four Test matches and struck a half century in the second innings on debut against Bangladesh. He has also played in six ODI's.

It is unfortunate that he has been branded as a player more suited for the shorter version of the game, although he is capable of producing something better at Test level as a leg-spinner and an aggressive left hand batsman.

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