Winners commend Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer contest | Sunday Observer

Winners commend Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer contest

The all-important first term matches of the inter-school first X1 cricket season are in top form before the traditional big matches starts in two months’ time. At the same time, the race for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contests too have attracted thousands of schoolboys who support their favourite cricketers.

The Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest is conducted under three categories – Platinum, Gold and Silver. The key first term school cricket matches have attracted encouraging number of spectators who support the emerging stars from their respective schools.

Winning an award at the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year mega show is a lifetime experience for any schoolboy. Recognition at such glamorous platform would not only an appreciation and encouragement for their achievements during the season but would also elevate them to a higher level as future Sri Lanka material.

That is preciously why that all those who had been privileged to experience that great honour commend the mega show and Sunday Observer’s role to foster school cricket for four decades.

Many legendary Sri Lanka cricketers feel that the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title they had won had been the most memorable award in their lives and its inspiration to go places in the big league. Ever since its inception way back in 1978/79, the contest has produced many top Sri Lanka cricketers who had made their mark in international cricket.

That includes several legendary Sri Lanka cricketers including the world’s highest Test wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan, World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga and ICC’s Chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle.

In their recent interviews on the Obsever-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, many past winners of the country’s premier school cricket awards show, which has now turned out to be the Mother of all Shows, have commended the role played by the contest.

The first ever recipient of the mega title - former Royal, NCC and Sri Lanka captain RANJAN MADUGALLE says that the 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,” says the ICC Chief Match Referee.Sri Lanka’s world cup winning captain turned Cabinet Minister ARJUNA RANATUNGA, who had won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year twice in 1980 and 1982, said it is the dream of any schoolboy cricketer to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award.

“It’s great 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,” he said.

“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,” Ranatunga added.

Former Nalanda captain, Sri Lanka cricketer and present manager of the national team ASANKA GURUSINHA, the winner of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 1985, had this to say’: When Roshan Mahanama, from my school team, 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” Gurusinha said.

A star ingredient of Sri Lanka’s successful recipe to 1996 Worls Cup victory SANATH JAYASURIYA, who had won Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year – Outstation title in 1988 said that 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. 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,” Jayasuriya said.

Former Nalanda captain KUMAR DHARMASENA, the winner of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 1989, said that it was one of the greatest moments in his 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,” said the ICC elite panel umpire who had now competed 50 Tests as umpire.

Former Sri Lanka captain MARVAN ATAPATTU, who won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in the very next year after Dharmasena, said that he considers the mega title he won in 1990 as a ‘certification or a guarantee’ that he would play for Sri Lanka. “When I had been performing well and scoring constantly for Ananda as a schoolboy cricketer, many considered me as a future Sri Lanka prospect.

Although I too had felt that I had a chance, there was no guarantee. All those who had won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title before me had gone on to play for Sri Lanka with distinction.

So, when I won the title, I knew that I too could join that select band,” he said.

Sri Lanka cricketer NIROSHAN DICKWELLA, who had won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 2012, feels proud to step into the international arena though the Mega Show.

“It gives me great pleasure to learn that the contest has lasted for four decades.

This has produced a galaxy of star cricketers in the All Island and Outstation competitions. Most of the recipients are doing well in their chosen professions may be cricket or otherwise.

My best wishes for a successful run of the contest in future. Winning the award was a great encouragement for me,” Dickwella said.

The national mobile service provider, Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel continues to provide that ‘smart connection’ to the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest, which 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).

Voting coupons for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, conducted under three categories, are being published in the Lake House national newspapers – Sunday Observer, Daily News, Dinamina and Thinakaran. 

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