Heat is on for the prestigious titles | Sunday Observer

Heat is on for the prestigious titles

Marvan  Atapattu  of  Ananda  College Colombo who  won   the title in  1990.
Marvan Atapattu of Ananda College Colombo who won the title in 1990.

The 2017 ‘Big Match’ season is around the corner as school cricket becomes cynosure of all eyes during the month of March. With the traditional inter-school matches for 2017 due to commence from next week, the heat is on for the prestigious Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year titles.

As the first X1 cricketers fine tune for the ‘big match’ season ahead, their fellow schoolmates – young and old as well as the cricket-crazy fans, have joined together in voting for their star schoolboy cricketers, thus supporting the products of their alma mater. As the stage is set for the

39th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year mega contest, voting is gradually increasing for the tough tussle ahead.

Right from its inaugural year, the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year series has produced many legendary cricketers who had made their mark in the international arena. Heading that elite band of cricketers is former Sri Lanka, NCC and Royal captain turned ICC Chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle.

In a recent interview, the first-ever winner of the prestigious award in 1979 had said that the Lake House and the Sunday Observer should be complimented for keeping the show going for four decades.

“Sponsors are essential to keep the show going. May the show continues for many years to come! In the past, most of the winners of the top awards were from Colombo and its suburbs, but now, the outstation schools have come in a big way and it is a positive sign for the game,” he had said.

Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain turned Minister Arjuna Ranatunga has attended the Mega Show regularly, as a cricketer, spectator as well as a VIP guest since he had become only the second recipient of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year after Madugalle in 1980.

“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 to host the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest from 1979 to encourage the budding schoolboy cricketers. I was particularly happy to see that the Northern Province joining the others in the competitions at the contest from the last few years,” says Ranatunga who also became the first schoolboy cricketer in the history to win the coveted award twice in 1980 and 1982.

“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,” he said.

Every schoolboy cricketer has a solitary dream, right from the day he holds a bat or ball at junior under-13 level - to play for the Sri Lanka national team one fine day! By the time they end their school career after their final year in first X1 team under-19 cricket, they will get one good signal about their destiny. If they win an award at the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer awards ceremony, they know that they are knocking at the door to enter the big league. That is precisely why that there is a common belief among schoolboy cricketers that if they could end their school career with the top award at the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year mega show, they are

only a step away from winning the Sri Lanka cap. On the other hand, there is a solid reason for that common belief as most of the top award winners at the Mega Show in the past had straightaway walked into the national team, just months after they had won the top award. The best example is none other than Ranatunga, now a Cabinet Minister.

About six months before winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award for the second time in 1982 and while playing in his final first X1 season for Ananda College, Colombo, Ranatunga was picked to play for the national team in Sri Lanka’s inaugural Test against England in February 1982. He made it a dream Test debut by scoring a fifty, thus becoming the first-ever Lankan half centurion in Test cricket.

Incidentally, Madugalle too scored a half century in the same first inning of Sri Lanka’s inaugural Test against England at Sara Stadium, just minutes after Ranatunga had scored the country’s first-ever half ton in Sri Lanka’s first innings.

As the proud host of the three-decade old prestigious school cricket awards show, the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, the Sunday Observer is delighted to see the distinguish achievements of Madugalle and Ranatunga.

The Mega Awards Show which recognises talents of schoolboy cricketers is organized by Sri Lanka’s flagship English newspaper - the Sunday Observer, in association with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA) and Sri Lanka Cricket Umpires & Sorcerers’ Association


Those milestones do not include numerous other achievements by the other award winners. Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel is the proud sponsor of the event for the 10th consecutive year.