The contest has seen many national 'caps'
Who will win the prestigious Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of
the Year 2016 title? The answer to the question, sought by thousands of
schoolboy cricketers and their supporters, would be known in a few
weeks' time when the mega awards ceremony will be held for the 38th
The winner would join the select band of cricketers, of whom the
majority has ended up as top world class cricketers. The galaxy of star
cricketers who have established their names in world cricket include
former Sri Lanka captains Ranjan Madugalle, Arjuna Ranatunga, Roshan
Mahanama, Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu and Dinesh Chandimal.
Among the other winners of the most prestigious award in Sri Lanka
school cricket are the highest wicket taker in Test cricket Muttiah
Muralitharan, one drop batsman Asanka Gurusinha and the ICC elite panel
umpire Kumar Dharmasena. The trio had been members of Sri Lanka's World
Cup-winning team in 1996 led by Ranatunga who had won the Observer
Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award twice - in 1980 and 1982. But the
proud recipient of the first-ever Observer Schoolboy Cricketer title at
the inaugural awards ceremony held way back in 1979 at Navarangahala,
was none other than the then Royal College captain Madugalle who now
functions as the Chief ICC Match Referee.
Since captaining his alma mater at the centenary Royal-Thomian
cricket encounter, Madugalle went on to captain NCC and Sri Lanka
national team with distinction.
In fact, he was the second Sri Lankan batsman to score a Test half
century after Ranatunga at Sri Lanka's inaugural Test against England
played at Sara Stadium in 1982.
As the past winners had pointed out, winning the coveted Observer-Mobitel
Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title is the most cherished moment that
any schoolboy could ever dream of. almost all past winners of this
glamorous award have gone places.
The host of the mega show - Sri Lanka's flagship English newspaper
the Sunday Observer, had given birth to this show some four decades ago
at a time when there hadn't been a single awards show to appreciate the
hard work of the country's schoolboy cricketers. In fact, there had not
been even an organized inter-school cricket tournament for two-day
matches at that time.
Yet, the Sunday Observer had understood the need to reward and
inspire the budding cricketers of the nation. Since then, the Observer
Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest has gone from strength to
strength, providing an ideal platform for the future stars of Sri Lanka
cricket. Holding such a prestigious show continuously for almost four
decades is not an easy task.
But the Sunday Observer has fulfilled its obligation not only by
hosting the event continuously but also improving the standard and the
quality of the show.
Several other schools cricket awards shows have commenced
subsequently, following the great initiative of the Sunday Observer.
Yet, the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year remains the
Mother of All Shows, setting new standards in local school cricket. The
event has been a great source of encouragement for thousands of
The entry of Sri Lanka's national mobile telephone network - the SLT
Mobitel, as the principal sponsor some nine years ago, has boosted the
show, helping the Sunday Observer to further improve the high standards
and lavishly reward not only the outstanding schoolboy cricketers but
also their coaches and masters-in-charge who have rendered a yeoman
service behind the scenes.
Sri Lanka Telecom chairman P.G. Kumarasinghe, who also heads the SLT
Mobitel, has extended his fullest support to make the evet a big
Sri Lanka's world cup-winning captain turned minister, Ranatunga has
been a distinguished guest at most of the past awards shows, ever since
winning the main award for the second time, some 34 years ago. "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 since 1979 to encourage the budding
schoolboy cricketers," was how Ranatunga expressed his views on the
"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," adds Ranatunga who has made an immense
contribution to Sri Lanka cricket, ever since leaving Ananda College and
captaining SSC and Sri Lanka with a proven track record.
Meanwhile, the heat is on the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy
Cricketer of the Year awards, presented under three categories -
Division 1 Platinum, Division 11 Gold and Division 111 Silver.
The final rounds of voting are now on through coupons published in
ANCL Lake House newspapers and there have been heavy voting during the
past few weeks.