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Sunday, 03 July 2016

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Chandimal going great guns in England

Two notable achievements by former Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year - Dinesh Chandimal and Thilan Samaraweera, were witnessed last week. Incidentally, both of them are proud products of Ananda College which has made a great contribution to Sri Lanka cricket by producing some sterling performances for the country at the highest level..


Dinesh Chandimal

While Chandimal is proving his class as a batsman under English conditions, Samaraweera has been picked by Cricket Australia as a batting consultant.Former Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award winner Chandimal is enjoying a memorable tour of England with the Sri Lanka team. Despite his team's unimpressive performances, the 26-year-old dependable top order batsman has enjoyed a rich harvest during the current tour. Following his blistering century (126) in the second Test against England, Chandimal has been going great guns in the One Day Internationals played during Sri Lanka team's current tour of the UK. Having warmed up for the ODI series against England with an unbeaten century against Ireland in the first ODI, Chandimal has continued to let his willow to do the talking against English bowlers, often resurrecting his team's batting.

It is good to see Chandimal, who had won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 2009, smashing the English bowlers in the first four ODIs - scoring 37 (first ODI in Trent Bridge), 52 (second ODI in Edgbaston), 62 (third ODI in Bristol) and 63 (fourth ODI at London Oval), at the time of writing before yesterday's fifth and final ODI in Cardiff . One hopes that Chandimal would take his stunning form to Sri Lanka's final match on tour - the one-off T20 International against England in Southampton on Tuesday (5).

The Mega Show has been a great source of inspiration and encouragement to country's budding cricketers. Thousands of schoolboy cricketers, who dream of proudly wearing the Sri Lanka cap one fine day, focus on their targets when they see their seniors, who had previously won the top awards at the same contest, going great guns at international arena.

Imagine, how stylish opening bat Marvan Atapattu would have felt when he, as a junior cricketer at Ananda, had witnessed his alma mater's then captain Arjuna Ranatunga walking on to the stage to receive the coveted in 1980 and 1982? That had given Atapattu a great determination and a set a goal that he too could do the same in the years to come. Roshan Mahanama would have felt the same when his Nalanda school team's former captain Bandula Warnapura became the country's first-ever Test captain in 1982. There are many such inspirational moments that schoolboy cricketers come across when their school seniors of yesteryear making their presence felt in international cricket. How many Ananda cricketers at various age groups had felt the same when Chandimal followed the great footsteps of Arjuna Ranatunga, Atapattu, Sanjeewa Ranatunga, Thilan Samaraweera, Muthumudalige Pushpakumara and Malith Gunathillake? Apart from Ananda, its brother school Nalanda too has produced galaxy of stars who have accounted from the top most award in school cricket.


Thilan Samaraweera

Heading the proud list of Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year recipients' list for Nalanda is none other than former Sri Lanka captain and ex-ICC Match referee Roshan Mahanama, one of the few outstanding cricketers who had won the top award twice in 1983 and 1984. Besides Mahanama, only Arjuna Ranatunga (1980 and 1982 for Ananda), Thilan Samaraweera (1994 and 1995 for Ananda) and Lahiru Peiris (2004 and 2005 for St. Peter's) had had the rare honour of winning the award twice.

Apart from Mahanama, the other Nalandians who had emerged the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year are Asanka Gurusinha (1985), Kumar Dharmasena (1989) and Gihan Rupasinghe (2006). Meanwhile, 39-year-old Samaraweera has been hired as a consultant for the Australia's National Cricket Centre in Brisbane for a three-month stint until August. He is currently working with some Australian Test players who are preparing for their forthcoming tour to Sri Lanka. Reports from Brisbane said that Samaraweera has already begun to work with Australian

players such as Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, and Jackson Bird who are not involved in the West Indies tri-series. The former Sri Lanka Test all-rounder, domiciled in Melbourne, has also been working with Australia 'A' team players. Samaraweera had a similar stint at the academy with Australia's Under-19 team before.

At present, Samaraweera is working with the Australian Test players on two turning pitches prepared at the academy with a view of experiencing Sri Lankan conditions.

Australia team is due to begin their three-Test series against Sri Lanka in Pallekele on July 26.

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