Six past winners captained Sri Lanka | Sunday Observer

Six past winners captained Sri Lanka

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest has produced a galaxy of stars in international cricket, including several legendary Sri Lanka cricketers including the world’s highest Test wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan.

The Mega Show, since its inception way back in 1979, has produced six Sri Lanka cricket captains including the country’s World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga. Besides Ranatunga, the other Sri Lanka cricket captains who had stepped into international cricket through the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest are Ranjan Madugalle, Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu, Roshan Mahanama and Dinesh Chandimal.

Out of the six Sri Lanka captains produced by the ‘Mega Show’, Madugalle, Ranatunga, Jayasuriya and Atapattu have led the national team in all formats of the game while Mahanama and Chandimal had led Sri Lanka in ODIs and T20 Internationals respectively. Madugalle, the first-ever recipient of the prestigious Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award who had led Sri Lanka at the highest level, is now serving as the Chief ICC Match referee.

Having won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award at the inaugural awards ceremony held at Nawarangahala in 1979, Madugalle had the honour of playing for Sri Lanka at the country’s inaugural Test.

He made it a memorable occasion by scoring a debut half century (65) in Sri Lanka’s inaugural Test against England played at Saravanamuttu Stadium in 1982. Madugalle had represented Sri Lanka in 21 Tests (1,029 runs with one century and seven fifties including a career best 103 against India) and 63 ODIs (950 runs with three half centuries).

Ranatunga, the second recipient of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 1980, was also lucky to make it to Sri Lanka team for the first-ever Test. Playing in the inaugural Test as a schoolboy in his final year at Ananda College in 1982, just months after winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award for the second time in 1982, Ranatunga became the first Sri Lankan batsman to score a half century in Test cricket. Ranatunga, who is now serving the nation as a Cabinet Minister, had the rare honour of leading Sri Lanka to emerge champions at the 1996 World Cup tournament. His invincible team, which included former Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year main award winners Mahanama, Asanka Gurusinha, Muralitharan and Kumar Dharmasena beat Australia by seven wickets in the final played in Lahore.

The ‘Captain Cool’, has an impressive Test and ODI record as a dependable middle order batsman. Representing Sri Lanka in 93 Tests, Ranatunga has aggregated 5,105 runs with four centuries and 38 fifties. He has also scored a total of 7,456 runs in 269 ODIs with four ‘tons’ and 49 half centuries.

Jayasuriya, the current Chairman of Selectors, came to limelight by winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Outstation title in 1988. He is one of the most successful all-rounders produced by Sri Lanka with a rich triple of over 20,000 runs, over 400 wickets and 200 catches in Tests and ODIs.

Figuring in a total of 110 Tests, Jayasuriya has 6,973 runs and 98 wickets to his credit with a career best 340 against India. In 445 ODIs, Jayasuriya has smashed 13,430 runs and captured 323 wickets. Atapattu, the winner of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 1990, later served as the head coach of the Sri Lanka national team. A technically accomplished batsman known for his marathon innings in Test cricket, Atapattu has also made his mark in ODIs too.

Opener Atapattu has aggregated 5,502 runs in 90 Tests with 16 centuries and 17 fifties. His willow has done the talking in ODIs too, with a rich haul of 8,529 runs in 268 matches with 11 centuries and 59 fifties. He has scored six double-hundreds in his illustrious 9career, a feat bettered only by Don Bradman (12), Kumar Sangakkara (11), Brian Lara (9), Wally Hammond and his former team mate Mahela Jayawardene (seven each).

Mahanama and Chandimal, former winners of the main award at the Mega Show, have also led Sri Lanka national team. Mahanama, a member of the 1996 world champion team, had captained Sri Lanka in ODIs.

A former ICC Match Referee, Mahanama had played 52 Tests to aggregate 2,576 runs with four centuries and 11 fifties. Having represented Sri Lanka in 213 ODIs, Mahanama has aggregated 5,162 runs, inclusive of four centuries and 35 half tons. Chandimal, who is currently touring England with the Sri Lanka team for the ICC Champions trophy tournament which begins early next month, had led Sri Lanka at a previous T20 World Cup tournament. Chandimal has so far aggregated 2,540 runs in 36 Tests with eight centuries and 11 fifties to maintain an attractive average of 42.33. He has also scored a total of 3,199 runs in 125 ODIs with four centuries and 21 fifties. 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 Executive 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 under the blessings of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

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