Sunday Observer Online


Sunday, 12 June 2016





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Who will take the prestigious title?

Who will be the proud recipient of the most prestigious crown in Sri Lanka school cricket? The answer to the question raised by many sports fans and cricket enthusiasts would be known in exactly a month's time when the 38th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year mega awards ceremony takes place in Colombo.

FLASHBACK: Charith Asalanka of Richmond College, Galle receiving the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award from former Sri Lanka cricketer turned international commentator Russel Arnold who was the chief guest at last year’s awards ceremony. Also in the picture are ANCL Chairman and Managing Director Kavan Ratnayake (extreme right) and Chairmanof Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel P.G. Kumarasinghe (extreme left).

The stage is set for the mega show after the distinguish selection panel, under the patronage of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association, has had a closer look at the top performers of the recently concluded inter-school season.

A former Sri Lanka captain who had won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer title twice is scheduled to be the chief guest at this year's awards ceremony proudly hosted by Sri Lanka's flagship English newspaper - the Sunday Observer, which has been rewarding the country's budding schoolboy cricketers for the past four decades. Although several others have followed our initiative and hold similar shows to reward outstanding schoolboy cricketers, the Mega Show hosted by the Sunday Observer, in association with the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association, remains the mother of all shows. When the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest was launched way back in 1978/79, there had not been even an organized tournament structure for under-19 inter-school matches, except for their traditional first X1 fixtures.

Yet, the Sunday Observer understood the need to reward the outstanding schoolboy cricketers at the end of each season and most of those top award winners have not only marched into the Sri Lanka national team but have also blossomed as some of the top players in world cricket. In a recent interview with the Sunday Observer, former Sri Lanka captain and ex-national coach Marvan Atapattu described how the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year show in 1982 had inspired him to go places. He had been a junior cricketer at Ananda College then. But it was a great motivation and source of encouragement for young Atapattu to see the then captain of his alma mater Arjuna Ranatunga being crowned the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year.

It was that memorable moment that had made Atapattu even more determined, that he too could emulate Ranatunga and win that prestigious title.

Like any other schoolboy cricketer, Atapattu, even at that time, knew that winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title would take him closer to the national team. Moreover, Ranatunga, while playing for Ananda in his final year, had set the standards then by qualifying to play for Sri Lanka in the country's inaugural Test against England in 1982.

In fact, Ranatunga had won the coveted title twice - in 1980 and 1982 after Ranjan Madugalle, the current Chief Match Referee of the ICC, had won the title in the inaugural year 1979. Since winning their Observer Schoolboy Cricketer titles, many top Sri Lanka players and former captains have graced the recent Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year awards ceremonies as the chief guests - Ranjan Madugalle, Muttiah Muralitharan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu and Kumar Dharmasena to name a few. In keeping with those great traditions, former top award winners such as Roshan Mahanama, Asanka Gurusinha and Arjuna Ranatunga would soon grace future events as chief guests.

In fact, Ranatunga's association with the mega show has been exemplary. He has always made it a passion to make his way to the Mega Show to inspire new generation schoolboy cricketers, irrespective of the fact who the formal chief guest is.

That has been a commendable act by the Captain Cool who has always lent a helping hand to less affluent but talented schoolboy cricketers.

The presence of Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel, as the proud sponsor of the mega show, has been a great support to the Sunday Observer in its endeavor to promote school cricket.

SLT Mobitel's lavish sponsorship has taken the event towards new horizons, further improving the standard and quality of the event, thereby reaching a greater audience.

Chief Operative Officer of the SLT Mobitel Nalin Perera, under the blessings of the Chairman of the SLT and the CEO of SLT Mobitel, has played a key role in promoting the event to inspire the next generation of Sri Lanka cricketers.

Adding a new segment to the awards list - the most behaved team, following a suggestion made by former Royal, NCC and Sri Lanka captain Madugalle has been hailed by many. It would further motivate schoolboys to play the gentlemen's game in its true spirit.

At a time the Countdown to the 2016 Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year event has begun, it was nice to see the winner of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 2009, Dinesh Chandimal going great guns in England with the Sri Lanka team, cracking a blistering century in the second Test. It all points to how the top award winners stamp their class in the big league.


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