Winning any award at the Mega Show, dream of every schoolboy cricketer : It was a great feeling - sanath Jayasuriya | Sunday Observer

Winning any award at the Mega Show, dream of every schoolboy cricketer : It was a great feeling - sanath Jayasuriya

Chairman of Selectors and former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya said that the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest has been a great source of encouragement to budding schoolboy cricketers, who dream of a place in the national team.

Recalling the golden moment in his school career at St. Servatius College, Matara, Jayasuriya said it was hard to express the great feelings he had had after winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Outstation title in 1988.

“It is hard to express that great feeling. Not only me but also my parents, brother, relatives, coaches and school masters, they all enjoyed that cherished moment. It was a great feeling,” he said.

“All past winners before me, be it the All-island or Outstation, had made their mark in Sri Lanka cricket. So, when I won the title, I felt that I am getting closer to earning a place in the national squad,” he said.

Jayasuriya said winning any major award at the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year mega show has been the dream of every schoolboy cricketer. “Naturally, this has been the awards ceremony that all schoolboy cricketers look forward to over the years.

Not only winning the major title, but also a category award such as the best batsman, best bowler or best all-rounder has been the dream of every schoolboy cricketer. There is nothing like winning such an award at school level,” he added.

The only schools cricket awards show until the last couple of decades, the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year mega show is now considered the ‘Mother of all school cricket award shows’. What is unique in the show is that it had developed a new culture by recognizing the raw talent, at a time when there had not been any organized tournament for first X1 cricket.

The ‘master blaster’ who graced the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year show in 2013 as the chief guest, found an opportunity to go down memory lane and recall those great milestones of his cricketing career as a schoolboy at St. Servatius College.

Jayasuriya who later went on to captain Sri Lanka with distinction, says that the inspiration and encouragement he got after receiving the top award was immense. “It was a great feeling, getting rewarded on conclusion of a strenuous inter-school cricket season. Unlike today, there were hardly any such shows to reward the outstanding schoolboy cricketers,” Jayasuriya said.

Winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year (Outstation) title as a promising schoolboy from Matara, way back in 1988, was the turning point in Jayasuriya’s distinguish cricket career. It was the then Principal of his school , G. L. Galappathy and coach Lionel Munasinghe who had been instrumental in nourishing his school career as a youngster.

Jayasuriya’s outstanding contribution with the willow earned that top award - a dream of any schoolboy cricketer for the last four decades! As most past recipients of the award, it did not take long for Jayasuriya to win the Sri Lanka ‘cap’ after winning the prestigious title.

In the very next year, Jayasuriya made his ODI debut for Sri Lanka against Australia in Melbourne - on December 26, 1989.

Since then, he became a vital ingredient in Sri Lanka team’s successful recipe, especially at the 1996 World Cup triumph.

The dashing former opening batsman, who turns 48 later next month, is one of the six Sri Lanka cricket captains produced through the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year series with others being celebrated cricketers such as Ranjan Madugalle, Arjuna Ranatunga, Roshan Mahanama (ODIs), Marvan Atapattu and Dinesh Chandimal (T20s).

Making his presence at the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year podium, some 26 years after winning that dream award, Jayasuriya advised the young schoolboy cricketers to be focused on the game so that success would come their way if they play their hearts out.

Jayasuriya who heads the national selection committee feels that a good cricketer must devote a lot of time and the success would follow thereafter.

The celebrated cricketer said that when he started playing cricket, he never thought that he would go this far and achieve such success for Sri Lanka cricket.

Besides the loads of trophies that had been added to his rich collection after the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year trophy, Jayasuriya was adjudged the Most Valuable Player of the Series when Sri Lanka won the World Cup in 1996 under another proud recipient of Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title, Arjuna Ranatunga.

Jayasuriya said that Lake House has done a yeoman service to young cricketers and promotion of the game in conducting the mega awards show since 1979.

“It is a fine gesture on the part of the Lake House and the Sunday Observer to host the show uninterrupted so that the young boys across the country will have something to look for when they end their school career,” he observed.

The Chairman of Selectors pointed out that sponsorships are vital for game to proceed as conducting a mega show of this magnitude is a costly exercise. Jayasuriya is one of the greatest all-rounders ever produced in world cricket with an equally impressive Test and ODI record. In 110 Tests,Jayasuriya has aggregated 6,973 runs with an impressive average of 40.07 with a career best knock of 340 against India. He has recorded 14 centuries and 31 fifties in Test cricket. He has captured 98 wickets at an average of 34.34.

His ODI record looks even greater with a grand double of over 13,000 runs and 300 wickets – a feat which is hard to beat.

He has aggregated 13,430 runs in 445 ODIs at an average of 32.36 with 28 centuries and 68 fifties that includes a career best innings of 189. As a slow left-arm orthodox bowler, Jayasuriya has 323 wickets to his credit with a career best 6 for 29 to average 36.75.

Ever since Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel’s association with the event as the principal sponsor, the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year show has gone from strength to strength. This will be the tenth successive year that the SLT Mobitel is providing the financial backing to the mega event.

Thanks to the untiring efforts of SLT Mobitel’s Chief Executive Officer Nalin Perera the mega show has gone from strength to strength. 

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