Past winners hail Mega Show’s role to boost school cricket | Sunday Observer

Past winners hail Mega Show’s role to boost school cricket

The ‘Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of theYear’ contest, which marks its 40th anniversary this year, has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1978/79. Ever since the then Royal captain Ranjan Madugalle was adjudged the inaugural Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year at Nawarangahala exactly four decades ago, the contest has produced many legendary cricketers including Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga and the world’s highest Test wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharn.

Besides those legendary cricketers in world cricket, several past recipients of the prestigious award had played many other leading roles as coaches, umpires, match referees, managers and cricket administrators. Having won the prestigious award for the first time, former Sri Lanka

captain Ranjan Senerath Madugalle had brought honour to the country by becoming the Chief Match Referee of the ICC. Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain turned Cabinet Minister, Arjuna Ranatunga, who had been adjudged the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year twice in 1980 and 1982 had also served as the Chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket.

Former Sri Lanka ODI and Nalanda captain Roshan Mahanama, the winner of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1983 and 1984, too had the honour of serving world cricket as an ICC Match Referee. Another proud product of Nalanda and a key member of Sri Lanka’s 1996 World champion team Kumar Dharmasena is a highly respected member of the ICC’s elite panel of umpires.

Several past Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Award winners, too had served Sri Lanka cricket in different capacities. Former Sri Lanka captain and the man of the series in 1996 World Cup tournament Sanath Jayasuriya, who had won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year

Outstation title as an emerging cricketer from St. Servatius. Former Ananda, SSC and Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu, another main Award winner who had served as the head coach of the Sri Lanka national team.

Former Nalanda captain and a member of Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning team in 1996, Asanka Gurusinha in another star to join that elite band of Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Award winners to play another key role as the current manager of the Sri Lanka national team.

This is what some of the past award winners had to say about the first-ever School Cricket Awards show in Sri Lanka:

The first winner in 1979: Ranjan Madugalle ‘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 good sign for the game. The Lake House and the Sunday Observer should be complimented for keeping the show going for all these years. Sponsors are essential. May the show continue for many more years”.

1980 and 1982 winner Arjuna Ranatunga, “You may go places and win many other awards at higher levels subsequently, but an Award won at Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year event remains the most memorable in any cricketer’s life. Winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Award twice remains the most cherished moment in my life. Those title had given me tremendous inspiration and confidence when I stepped into the international arena.

1983 and 1984 winner Roshan Mahanama, T”o be adjudged the best schoolboy cricketer and being honoured for the hard work during the season was a great encouragement. I was privileged to achieve one of my dreams. Winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year on successive years was a memorable one. It was my stepping stone. Becoming the best schoolboy cricketer made me even more determined to work harder to reach greater heights”.

1985 winner Asanka Gurusinha, “When Roshan Mahanama 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.

1988 Outstation winner Sanath Jayasuriya, “Observer Schoolboy Cricketer outstation award that I won three decades ago as a schoolboy cricketer from St. Servatius College, Matara was of the best thing that happened in my early cricketing career. Playing for St. Servatius had brought me immense joy and winning the title gave a tremendous boost and inspiration. Schoolboy cricketers must be motivated.

1989 winner Kumar Dharmasena, “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 I must congratulate ANCL and the Sunday Observer for keeping the show going for over 40 years. Lake House has taken the lead to help budding schoolboy cricketers. Development of youth is very important as they will be the ones who will take the country forward.

1990 winner Marvan Atapattu, “I consider the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title I won in 1990 as a ‘certification or a guarantee’ it was prediction to say that I 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 national prospect. Although I too 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 represent Sri Lanka with distinction. So, when I won the title, it gave me the guarantee that the chance opened to join that select band.

1991 winner Muttiah Muralitharan, “This type of awards show means a lot to young cricketers. When I was picked as the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, it gave me lot of satisfaction and highly motivated me. I became an international cricketer through inter-school cricket and the

encouragement that I had got as a schoolboy cricketer. Lake House and the Sunday Observer should continue its good work for the benefit of the budding school cricketers.

1994 and 1995 winner Thilan Samaraweera, “My progress as an international cricketer was because of the encouragement I got at school level. Observer Schoolboy Cricketer motivated us. I won the main award twice and Best Batsman and Best All-rounder awards too. That was a tremendous boost for us at that level.

2012 winner Niroshan Dickwella, “I was privileged to step into the big league through the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year awards show. It gives me great pleasure to learn that the contest has lasted for four decades. This has produced a bunch of great cricketers in the All Island and Outstation competitions. Most of the recipients are doing well in their chosen professions may be cricket or otherwise.

Meanwhile, the voting coupons-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest 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 under the blessings of its CEO Nalin Perera. 

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