World Cup winning team had six winners of contest
It was Sri Lanka’s World Cup victory in 1996 that made a revolution in local
cricket and transformed the level of the game to a highly professional level.
Beating Australia by seven wickets in the final played in Lahore on March 17,
1996 opened a new era in Sri Lanka cricket, taking the game to every corner of
the country, generating tremendous public interest.
By that time, the country’s first school cricket awards show – the Observer
Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year show was only 17 years old. But the impact of
the show to Sri Lanka cricket has been so great that six key players of that
victorious world champion team, including the captain, had been past recipients
of the prestigious Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year top award.
Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga receives the 1996 World
Sri Lanka’s world cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who had won the Observer
Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year twice in 1980 and 1982 as a brilliant product of
Ananda College, led the country’s world champion team front. Besides cricketer
turned politician Ranatunga, now a Cabinet Minister, five other Observer
Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award winners played key roles towards Sri
Lanka’s success – the winners in 1983 and 84 Roshan Mahanama (Nalanda), 1985
Asanka Gurusinha (Nalanda), 1989 Kumara Dharmasena (Nalanda) and 1991 Muttiah
Muralideran (St.Anthony’s), Katugastota). Most importantly, Sri Lanka’s
explosive opener Sanath
Sanath Jayasuriya Most Valuable player in 1996
Jayasuriya, now the Chairman of Selectors, won the highest individual award that
was on offer at the 1996 ICC World Cup – the Most Valuable Player of the
Tournament, for his outstanding contribution towards Sri Lanka’s success.
Jayasuriya, as a brilliant cricketer from St. Servatious College, Matara, won
the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year (Outstation) title in 1989. Among
the galaxy of other stars who have won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the
Year titles during past four decades are – in 1979 Ranjan Madugalle (Royal),
1981 Rohan Buultjens (St.Peter’s), 1986 Roshan Jurangpathy (Royal), 1987 Rohan
Weerakkody (St.Joseph’s), 1988 Sanjeeva Ranatunga (Ananda), 1990 Marvan Atapattu
(Ananda), 1992 Sajith Fernando (St.Anthony’s, Katugastota), 1993 Naveed Nawaz
(DS. Senanayake), 1994/95 Thilan Samaraweera (Ananda), 1996 Nimesh Perera (St
Sebastian’s, Moratuwa), 1997 Chinthaka Jayasinghe (Dharmapala), 1998 Pradeep
Hewage (St.Benedict’s), 1999 Muthumudalige Pushpakumara (Ananda), 2000 Kaushal
Weeraratne (Trinity), 2001 Kaushal Lokuarachchi (St.Peter’s), 2002 Sahan
Wijeratne (Prince Of Wales), 2003 Farveez Maharoof (Wesley), 2004/ 2005 Lahiru
Peiris (St.Peter’s), 2006 Gihan Rupasinghe (Nalanda), 2007 Malith Gunatilleka
(Ananda), 2008 (Umesh Karunaratne (Thurstan), 2009 Dinesh Chandimal (Ananda),
2010 Bhanuka Rajapakse (Royal), 2011 Bhanuka Rajapakse (Royal), 2012 Niroshan
Dickwella (Trinity), 2013 Kusal Mendis (Prince Of Wales), 2014 Sadeera
Samarawickrema (St.Joseph’s) and 2015 Charith Asanka (Richmond).
In fact, last year’s winner of Asanka is a strong contender for this year’s
Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title as well. But whether he
could win the top award for the second successive year and join select band of
cricketers such as Ranatunga, Mahanama and Samaraweera would only be known when
the mega awards ceremony takes place in September.
Warner-Hudnut (Haliborange) was the first sponsor of the Observer Schoolboy
Cricketer of the Year held at Navarangahala, Colombo in 1979. It ultimately
turned out to be a fitting tribute to the then Royal captain Ranjan Madugalle to
win the prestigious award on ‘home’ soil. Madugalle went on to captain NCC and
Sri Lanka with distinction to finally end up in his current position of Chief
Match Referee of the ICC. Bata Shoe Company was the second sponsor of the event
before Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel joined hands with the organizer of the event –
the Sunday Observer of Lake House, in 2008. Since then, the mega show has been
going from strength to strength, titled Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of
the Year. The present vice-captain of the Sri Lanka team Dinesh Chandimal was
adjudged Obsrever-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 2009. SLT Mobitel,
is granting the financial support to the mega show for the ninth consecutive
year. SLT Mobitel’s presence as the third sponsor of the much looked forward to
event in the school cricket calendar, has further strengthened the original show
which has recognised schoolboy talent over the past 37 years.
SLT has contributed immensely
SLT Mobitel, the national mobile service provider, continues to provide that
‘smart connection’ to the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest.
Under the directions of the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Telecom and SLT Mobitel
P.G. Kumarasingha, the Chief Operative Officer of the SLT Mobitel Nalin Perera
has made a great contribution towards the success of the event during the past
decade. The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year continues to enjoy
the longstanding association of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association
(SLSCA) and the Sri Lanka Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association.