Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1989 : ICC umpire Dharmasena completes 50 Tests | Sunday Observer

Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1989 : ICC umpire Dharmasena completes 50 Tests

Former Observer Schoolboy Cricketer main Award winner turned ICC Elite Panel umpire Kumar Dharmasena reached another great milestone in his distinguish career, this time as an international umpire.

The 46-year-old former Sri Lanka Test all-rounder, who officiated in the fourth Ashes Test between England and Australia concluded in Melbourne yesterday with Indian Sundaram Ravi, has now officiated in 50 Tests as an umpire.

In his last interview with the Sunday Observer, Dharmasena said he was looking forward to that milestone as an international umpire. “I do not have too many future plans as we are getting older. I take it year by year. The ICC recognizes my work and I am happy with it”, he said

Following his retirement from international cricket in November 2006, Dharmasena took to umpiring. Having made his international debut as an umpire in 2009, officiating in an ODI between India and Sri Lanka at Dambulla, Dharmasena became the youngest ever Sri Lankan to umpire in any form of international match.

He umpired at the 2011 ICC World Cup and in the same year, he had the honour of being appointed to the ICC’s Elite Panel of Umpires. But the greatest achievement in his career as an international umpire was witnessed in 2012 when he was adjudged the ICC’s Umpire of the Year to receive the David Shepherd Trophy.

By officiating at the 2015 ICC World Cup tournament, including the final, Dharmasena became the first person to play and umpire in an ICC World Cup final. As a player, Dharmasena played a notable role in Sri Lanka’s World Cup victory in 1996.

Dharmasena says that the ‘Observer Schoolboy Cricketer’ of the Year title he won in 1989 inspired him to excel in the international arena. “It was one of the greatest moments in my cricket career. It was a big inspiration for me to win the ‘Observer Schoolboy Cricketer’ of the Year title. It helped and encouraged me to work hard to win my Sri Lanka cap,” he said.

Dharmasena believes that winning a mega Award such as ‘Observer Schoolboy Cricketer’ of the Year gives a huge image and great confidence for a schoolboy cricketer to go places. “That would definitely make young schoolboy cricketers more determined to reach the top of the ladder”, he said.

Compared to his era, Dharmasena feels that outstanding cricketers with exceptional performances and milestones are hard to find nowadays. He said that could be the reason that had prevented schoolboy cricketers matching directly to the Sri Lanka team in recent times, unlike his playing days.

He is of the view that the present day challenge for schoolboy cricketers is greater in their future careers and as a result, only a few outstanding cricketers would remain in the game once they leave school.

“Luckily, when I left Nalanda College, Hatton National Bank (HNB) offered me employment and gave all the support to pursue my career as a club cricketer and then as an international cricketer. But present day schoolboy cricketers hardly get that sort of support”, he added.

Born on April 24, 1971 in Colombo, he is one of the best all-rounders produced by Nalanda College, Colombo. He had four memorable school seasons for the Campbell Place School.

Dharmasena narrowly missed the chance of becoming the first to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer on four successive years.

Apart from winning the prestigious title in 1989, he had been adjudged runner up thrice - to Sanjeewa Ranatunga of Ananda College in 1988, Marvan Atapattu also of Ananda College in 1990 and to Muttiah Muralithan of St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota in 1991.

After ending his school cricket career, Dharmasena became a permanent member of Bloomfield in the domestic inter-club premier league season. Merely three years after winning the ‘Observer Schoolboy Cricketer’ of the Year title, young Dharmasena made his Test debut in Sri Lanka’s second Test against South Africa at SSC grounds in September, 1993. He made his Sri Lanka ODI debut on August 24, 1994 in the fifth ODI against Pakistan at Premadasa Stadium capturing 2 for 34 off nine overs.

He has aggregated 868 runs in 31 Tests with three half centuries and captured 69 wickets with 6 for 72 as his best innings analysis. Dharmasena had represented Sri Lanka in 141 ODIs, aggregating 1,222 runs with four half centuries.

Dharmasena has captured 138 wickets in ODIs with his of breaks, delivered with a slightly unorthodox action that had been a blessing to the Lankan team in many ODIs.

He is better known for his inspiring acts as a team man, motivating his fellow players even at difficult times. Hence, he was nicknamed ‘unanduwa’ by his teammates.

“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”, was his advice to the emerging schoolboy cricketers who keep dreaming of a Sri Lanka cap.

Meanwhile, the much looked forward to key first term matches of the 2017/18 inter-school season begins from later this week after the dawn of the New Year tomorrow. Simultaneously, the contest for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer titles would turn out to be a keen tussle.

Voting coupons are being published in the Lake House national newspapers - Sunday Observer, Daily News, Dinamina and Thinakaran. The ‘Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer’ of the Year Mega Show is sponsored by SLT Mobitel.

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