Many Sri Lankan stars in elite club | Sunday Observer

Many Sri Lankan stars in elite club

Ex-Sri Lanka Test batsman turned batting coach Bangladesh team Thilan Samaraweera(left) won the mega award twice in 1994 and 1995.  Roshan Jurangpathy(centre), another Sri Lanka Test player produced through the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest  Farveez Maharoof(right) brought honour to Wesley through the Mega Show
Ex-Sri Lanka Test batsman turned batting coach Bangladesh team Thilan Samaraweera(left) won the mega award twice in 1994 and 1995. Roshan Jurangpathy(centre), another Sri Lanka Test player produced through the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest Farveez Maharoof(right) brought honour to Wesley through the Mega Show

The grand finale of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2017 will be held at Galadari Hotel, Colombo on July 25. As the Mega Show approaches, it will be interesting to have a look at the past winners of this prestigious title, which has unveiled many legendary Sri Lanka cricketers.

Right from the first-ever awards show way back in 1979, Observer schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest has produced a group of elite cricketers who have engraved their names in Sri Lanka cricket history in golden letters. The first recipient of the coveted title, Ranjan Madugalle not only reached the pinnacle of his career as a cricketer by going on to captain Sri Lanka but also reached the very top as an official by becoming the Chief ICC Match Referee.

Then the Ananda captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who won the title after Madugalle in 1980, is another great Sri Lanka cricketer who had marshalled our national team to conquer the ‘Mount Everest’ in world cricket. Ranattunga, who became the First Schoolboy Cricketer to win the Mega Award twice in 1982, captained Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning team in 1996.

Galaxy of stars have emerged

The galaxy of stars who have blossomed in Lankan cricket skies include the world’s highest Test wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharn, the Most Valuable Player award winner in the 1996 World Cup tournament Sanath Jayasuriya (outstation title), former Sri Lanka captain and ex-national coach Marvan Atapattu (1990), former Sri Lanka captain and ex-ICC Match Referee Roshan Mahanama, former Sri Lanka player cum 1996 world cup star turned manager of the present Sri Lanka team Asanka Gurusinha, former Sri Lanka player and ICC Elite Panel Umpire Kumar Dharmasena and ex Sri Lanka Test batsman turned batting coach of the Bangladesh nation team Thilan Samaraweera (1994 and 1995).

Three members of the current Sri Lanka pool have won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year titles during their school careers in recent times. They are former Sri Lanka T20 captain Dinesh Chandimal (Ananda - 2009), Niroshan Dickwella (Trinity – 2012) and Kusal Mendis (Prince of Wales - 2013). Despite undergoing a lean patch at present, Chandimal has already proved his class as a gifted cricketer who has enormous talent as a classy batsman. He has represented Sri Lanka in 36 Tests to aggregate 2,540 runs with eight centuries and 11 fifties. He has maintained an attractive average of 42.33 in Tests. In his 128 ODI appearances for Sri Lanka, the 27-year-old from down south has aggregated 3,211 runs with four centuries and 21 fifties.

Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis are two youngsters who have stepped into the national team after winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award on successive years (2012 and 2013 respectively) and cemented their places in next to no time.

Prior to yesterday’s fourth ODI against Zimbabwe, Dickwella has aggregated 648 runs in 17 ODIs with an encouraging average of 40.50. Having scored four fifties in his first 16 ODIs, he made his debut ODI century in Sri Lanka’s third ODI against Zimbabwe at Hambabtota last week – cracking an attractive 102 off 116 balls with 14 boundaries.

He shared a massive 229-run partnership for the first wicket off 37 overs with Danushka Gunathilaka who made 116. Dickwella has also scored two half centuries during his six Test appearances for Sri Lanka.

Having made his Sri Lanka ODI debut only an year ago, Kusal Mendis has gone past 1,000-run milestone in both ODIs (1,086 in 31 matches with one century and 11 fifties) and Tests (1,106 in 16 matches with two centuries and three fifties).

Others have also stamped their class

Apart from those popular figures, there are several other past award winners who have proved their class with Sri Lanka national team and at various other levels. Among them are Rohan Buultjens (St.Peter’s - 1981), Roshan Jurangpathy (Royal - 1986), Rohan Weerakkody (St.Joseph’s - 1987), Sanjeeva Ranatunga (Ananda - 1988), Sajith Fernando (St.Anthony’s, Katugastota - 1992), Naveed Nawaz (DS. Senanayake - 1993), Nimesh Perera (St Sebastian’s, Moratuwa - 1996), Chinthaka Jayasinghe (Dharmapala -1997), Pradeep Hewage (St.Benedict’s - 1998), Muthumudalige Pushpakumara (Ananda - 1999), Kaushalya Weeraratne (Trinity - 2000), Kaushal Lokuarachchi (St.Peter’s - 2001), Sahan Wijeratne (Prince Of Wales - 2002), Farveez Maharoof (Wesley - 2003), Lahiru Peiris (St.Peter’s – 2004 and 2005), Gihan Rupasinghe (Nalanda - 2006), Malith Gunatilleka (Ananda - 2007), Umesh Karunaratne (Thurstan - 2008), Bhanuka Rajapakse (Royal – 2010 and 2011), Sadeera Samarawickrema (St.Joseph’s - 2014) and Charith Asanlanka (Richmond – 2015 and 2016).

Asalanka who has won the big award in successive years during last two occasions has already represented Sri Lanka ‘A’ against England Lions at Pallekele earlier this year. He has so far scored 600 first class runs, including a century for Sri Lanka Under-23 during its tour of Bangladesh last March.

Roshan Jurangpathy was the second Royalist to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title and play Test cricket after Madugalle. As a teenager, Jurangpathy had shown great promise but the then selectors gave him only a couple of chances. Days before his 18th birthday, Jurangpathy became the youngest Sri Lankan player to score a first-class century.

Sanjeewa Ranatunga too went on to represent Sri Lanka in Test cricket. In nine matches, he had aggregated 531 runs with two centuries. He had also played 13 ODIs for Sri Lanka and scored two half centuries. Among the other former Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award winners who had represented Sri Lanka at the highest level are Farveez Maharoof (22 Tests and 109 ODIs), Muthumudalige Pushpakumara (three ODIs), Naweed Nawaz (one Test, three ODIs), Kausal Lokuarachchi (four Tests and 21 ODIs) and Kaushalya Weeraratne (15 ODIs and five T20I).

Meanwhile, the winners of the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2017 are scheduled to be announced by next Sunday (16). Voting for the 39th Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest, now being conducted under three divisions, will close on Friday (14). Hence, only four more days’ of voting is left to determine the winners of the popularity titles. 

 

Comments