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Sunday, 1 May 2016





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The final race is on for coveted awards

The final ‘race’ for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year is on with hundreds of outstanding schoolboy cricketers in the recently concluded 2015/16 first X1 season clashing for top honours under three categories – platinum, gold and silver!

Their fellow schoolmates and the cricket crazy fans have joined together in voting for their most popular schoolboy cricketer, thus supporting the products of their alma mater. As the stage is set for the 38th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year mega awards show, there have been heavy voting in the final weeks before the counting begins in a couple of weeks’ time.

Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel is the proud sponsor of the show, providing the financial support to maintain the high standards of the show which began way back in 1979. Since then, the mother of all school cricket awards shows has gone from strength to strength, unveiling the future stars of Sri Lanka cricket.

With SLT Mobitel joining hands with the Sunday Observer to provide financial support to the oldest cricket awards show in Sri Lanka, the standard of the contest has been further improved. The mega show had its humble beginnings almost four decades ago with then Royal captain Ranjan Madugalle winning the prestigious Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year ‘crown’.

Since then, it has set a great example and inspired not only the other media organisations to organize similar contests but also the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association to have its own awards show.

Not only the winners of the main award – the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, but also the winners of many other awards such as the best batsman, best bowler and the best all-rounder, have made their mark in the international arena over the years. Besides Madugalle who now functions as the Chief ICC Match Referee, there had been several other past Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title winners who have made their name I international cricket – Arjuna Ranatunga (1980 and 1982), Asanka Gurusinha (1985), Roshan Mahanama (1983 and 1984), Muttiah Muralitharan (1991), Kumara Dharmasena (1989), Marvan Atapattu (1990) and Dinesh Chandimal (2009) to name a few.

Sanath Jayasuriya, who was a member of that champion team and adjudged the Most Valuable Player of the 1996 World Cup tournament, too had been a recipient of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year outstation title.

Those credentials are ample testimony that the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer has always produced future champions of the international arena.

Here are the comments made by some of the proud recipients of the prestigious award and former Sri Lanka cricket stars over the years:

Former Sri Lanka captain and ICC Chief Match Referee RANJAN MADUGALLE: The Lake House and the Sunday Observer should be complemented for keeping the show going for all these years. Sponsors are essential to keep the show going. May the show continue for many more years,” he was quoted as saying.

In the past, most of the winners of the top awards came from Colombo and its suburbs, but now, the outstation schools have come in a big way and it is a positive sign for the game. Sri Lanka’s World Cup-winning captain ARJUNA RANATUNGA: It is the dream of any schoolboy cricketer to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award. It’s great for the Sunday Observer in continuing the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest from 1979 to encourage the budding schoolboy cricketers. I am happy at the improvement of outstation cricket as the game has spread far and wide in the country. Many Sri Lankan cricketing giants of the past and the present are those who have either won the prestigious and coveted Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Award or one of the many awards presented at the contest.

Former Sri Lanka spinner and the world’s highest Test wicket taker MUTTIAH MURALITHARAN: Schoolboy cricketers are the future players of Sri Lanka who will keep Sri Lanka’s flag flying wherever you go. I was very happy to be back at the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year show as the chief guest, some 20 years I won that award as a schoolboy cricketer from St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota. We must pay a tribute to the Sunday Observer for its role in rewarding the outstanding schoolboy cricketers.

Play hard and dedicate yourself and then success is bound to come.

Former Sri Lanka captain and Chairman of Selectors, SANATH JAYASURIYA:

Every schoolboy who wins the prestigious Schoolboby Cricketer of the Year award stands a good chance of representing the country, if they continue the game with dedication. If you win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award, you stand a big chance of playing for Sri Lanka in near future. When you see the star schoolboy cricketers who had won this prestigious award in the past, it is evident that most of them have ended up with the national team and underlined their supremacy in the international arena. Once you win the title, you only need commitment and dedication to secure a place in the Sri Lanka team.

Former Sri Lanka all-rounder and ICC Elite panel umpire KUMAR DHARMASENA:

Becoming the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1989 was the biggest turning point in my cricket career. In fact it was a big blessing to my school career when I stepped in to club cricket and international arena after representing Nalanda in school cricket. When you win such award, you are always a step ahead. It was the most rewarding thing that a schoolboy cricketer could ever dream of, after all the hard work during a strenuous season of over seven months. The Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award was a source of encouragement for me to go places in international cricket.

Former Sri Lanka captain and ex-national selector HASHAN TILLAKARATNE: It was a big event for us when we were playing school cricket for D.S. Senanayake. Similarly, the present schoolboy cricketers too are eagerly looking forward to this event which rewards the most outstanding schoolboy cricketers. You feel great when you know that your hard efforts would be rewarded at the end of the school season. Making your way to the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer victory podium was a great feeling for any schoolboy crickcter and the organisers of this great event – the Sunday Observer of Lake House and its present sponsor SLT Mobitel deserves credit for recognizing the school talent, which is the stepping stone for club cricket and to the Sri Lanka national pool thereafter.


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