They went on to play for Sri Lanka with distinction: Bouquets from former top award winners | Sunday Observer

They went on to play for Sri Lanka with distinction: Bouquets from former top award winners

Some of the top international cricketers produced by Sri Lanka, all top award winners of yesteryear, have commended the role played by the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest to promote school cricket during the past four decades.

In their recent interviews on Sri Lanka’s first-ever inter-school cricket awards ceremony, many top Sri Lanka cricketers have hailed the role played by the Lake House and the Sunday Observer in fostering school cricket.

Although the country’s inter-school cricket history is around one-and-a-half century old, there had not been any formal award ceremony to appreciate the achievements of schoolboy cricketers until 1979. But the country’s flagship English newspaper then understood the need to appreciate the achievements of schoolboy cricketers and inspire them.

As a result, the inaugural Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year awards ceremony was held at Navarangahala in 1979. It was a memorable start with the then Royal captain Ranjan Madugalle being adjudged the first-ever recipient of the prestigious Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title.

Here are the views expressed by former Sri Lanka cricketers who had won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award during its four decades of cherished history:


Chief ICC Match Referee and former Sri Lanka captain RANJAN MADUGALLE:

The Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (Lake House) and the Sunday Observer should be complemented for keeping the show going for all these years. Sponsors are essential to keep the show going.

In the past, most of the winners of the top awards came 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. May the show continue for many years to come.


Minister of Ports and Sri Lanka’s world cup-winning captain ARJUNA RANATUNGA:

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 conduct the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest since 1979 to encourage the budding schoolboy cricketers. I was particularly happy to see that the Northern Province joining with the others in the competitions at the contest.

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 won other awards at the contest.


ICC Elite Panel Umpire and former Sri Lanka cricketer KUMAR DHARMASENA:

It was one of the greatest moments in my career as a cricketer. Winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title was a big inspiration.

That helped and encouraged me to play for Sri Lanka. Winning such a mega award gives a huge image and confidence to a schoolboy cricketer to go places. We were determined to reach the top of the ladder and did so with dedication.

If you don’t enjoy the game and dedicate yourself towards it, you won’t be successful. Believe in yourself, work hard with dedication and you will find success.


Former Sri Lanka cricketer and present Sri Lanka team manager ASANKA GURUSINHA:

When Roshan Mahnama won this award twice in 1983 and 1984, I felt how prestigious it is to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award. It is not an award that everybody could win. One has to perform exceptionally well and be consistent right throughout a season to win that – work really hard to reach the pinnacle of school career.

The Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year show has not only produced top cricketers but some international level umpires such as Kumar Dharmasena who serves in the ICC elite panel. I am glad that the Lake House is hosting the awards show uninterrupted and encouraging the budding schoolboy cricketers. During my time, this was the only school cricket awards show and we were eagerly looking forward to it.


Former Sri Lanka captain and ex-Sri Lanka national coach MARVAN ATAPATTU:

I was a student at Ananda then, playing my junior cricket when I witnessed the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year awards show in 1982. There I saw our school captain at that time Arjuna Ranatunga emerging out of a huge cricket ball, erected on stage, to receive the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award.

That was a great inspiration to me and I thought that I too could make my family, the team and my school proud if I could win that top award one fine day. The things worked well for me to emulate that feat eight years later.

Almost all those who have won top awards at Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year show have stepped into the national team in next to no time and many of them have established their mark as top national players. 

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