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Sunday, 10 July 2016

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Several winners have gained National honours

Several recent award winners of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest are currently playing for the Sri Lanka national team and Sri Lanka 'A' team. It is heartening to see the past Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer award winners going great guns for the Sri Lanka Cricket.

As most cricketers believe, winning a top award at the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest would take any budding youngster a giant leap towards the national team. There are enough and more examples on how the past award winners have stepped into the national team, right from the first three winners in the series - Ranjan Madugalle, Arjuna Ranatunga and Roshan Mahanama, who had gone on to lead Sri Lanka team with distinction.

Apart from Sri Lanka vice-captain Dinesh Chandimal, who had won the top award seven years ago when he was playing for Ananda, the winner of Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 2013 Kusal Mendis too served as a member of the Sri Lanka team which concluded its summer tour of England. Mendis scored a half century each in the Test and ODI series.

Apart from the top duo who have been playing for the national team, several past Observer- Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer award winners are currently touring England with the Sri Lanka 'A' team which is due to commence its first unofficial Test against Pakistan 'A' at Worcester today (10). Among the galaxy of emerging stars in Sri Lanka 'A' team are two former Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year top award winners - Niroshan Dickwella (2012) and Charith Asanka (2015). In fact, Asanka who has excelled for Richmond once again in the recently concluded inter-school season, will make a strong claim to win the title for the second successive time. Only a handful of outstanding schoolboy cricketers have won this prestigious title twice. The most notable of them all are former Sri Lanka captains Ranatunga (in 1980 and 1982) and Mahanama (1983 and 1984).

Apartfrom the duo, only Thilan Samaraweera (1994 and 1995), Lahiru Peiris (2004 and 2005) and Bhanuka Rajapaksa 2010 and 2011) have won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year top award twice. Whether Charith Asanka be able to emulate those great feats will be the question raised in the school cricket circles. The answer for the frequently asked question would only be known at the 39th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year mega awards ceremony to be held in Colombo shortly.

Besides Asanka and Dickwella, two former Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy

Cricketer title award winners - Ramith Ramukwella and Angelo Perera are also touring England with the Sri Lanka 'A' team.

Meanwhile, former Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award winner Dinesh Chandimal continued his cracking from right up to the fifth nOne Day International against England, although the visitors continuedtheir unimpressive run to lose once more. Nevertheless, Chandimal registered his fourth successive half century in the recently concluded five-match ODI series against England which the hosts won 3-0 with a no decision and a tie each.

Sri Lanka batsmen were all at sea once more as they were shot out for 202 in 42.4 overs, in reply to England's challenging 324 for 7 in the last ODI in Cardiff. Yet, Chandimal had a lone battle and accounted for 53 of those runs. Undoubtedly, Chandimal became the most consistent Lankan batsman in the ODI series, aggregating 267 runs to average 53.4 in five ODIs with four half tons. He had scores of 37 (first ODI in Trent Bridge), 52 (second ODI in Edgbaston), 62 (third ODI in Bristol), 63 (fourth ODI at London Oval) and 53 (fifth ODI in Cardiff). Had Sri Lanka produced another couple of consistent batsmen, they would have tasted victory even once.

Chandimal's willow started talking right from the Test series, making a

polished century (126) in the second Test against England. Having made an unbeaten century against Ireland in the first ODI, Chandimal regularly troubled the English bowlers in all five ODI matches. Even in the one-off T20 International, Chandimal became the second highest scorer for Sri Lanka (23) behind Danushka Gunathilaka (26). It was a great series for Chandimal, who had won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 2009, under English conditions. A proud product of Ananda Vidyalaya, Chandimal is roaring to play many more great innings for the national team.

 

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