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Sunday, 08 May 2016

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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 successive year.

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.


Asanka Gurusinha


Ranjan Madugalle


Roshan Mahanama


Arjuna Ranatunga


Muttiah Muralitharan


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 schoolboy cricketers.

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 success.

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 show.

"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.

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