Fitting tribute to a history-maker | Sunday Observer

Fitting tribute to a history-maker

It will be a fitting tribute to the first-ever recipient of the most prestigious award in school cricket when former Sri Lanka captain Ranjan Madugalle joins the 40th anniversary celebrations of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year.

The former Royal, NCC and Sri Lanka captain turned ICC’s Chief Match Referee is expected to grace the milestone celebrations of Sri Lanka’s first and the oldest school cricket award show which accounts for four decades of cherished history, producing legendary Sri Lanka cricketers.

Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel is the proud sponsor of the Mega Show for the 11th consecutive year. Over the years, the mother of all shows has unveiled world famous cricketers, including Sri Lanka’s World Cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, world’s highest Test wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan and Madugalle.

For the past 40 years, it has remained the dream of every schoolboy cricketer as many believe that the prestigious title would give them a giant leap forward in fulfilling their ultimate dream of winning Sri Lanka colours. There are enough and more examples to prove this common belief as most past winners of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title had made their way to the Sri Lanka team in double quick time after winning the crown.

There is no exception this time around as three recent winners of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year main award are in the current Sri Lanka team - Dinesh Chandimal (2009), Niroshan Dickwella (2012) and Kusal Mendis (2013). After being baptized at the Mega Show, the trio has become vital ingredients of the national team.

Beside Madugalle, Ranatunga and Muralitharan, Roshan Mahanama and Kumara Dharmasena are two other past winners who had made their presence felt in the international arena. The former Nalanda captain Dharmasena is the first player to win the prestigious Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in successive years, 983 and 1984.

Although Ranatunga, the then Ananda captain, too had won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title twice prior to Mahanama, Ranatunga had not won the crown on successive years. Ranatunga first won the coveted title in 1980 after Ranjan Madugalle but failed to repeat it the following year, finishing runner up to Rohan Buultjens of St. Peter’s College. However, in his final inter-school first XI season for Ananda, Ranatunga was once again crowned Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1982.

It is no easy task to continue a mega awards show of this magnitude. As Madugalle had pointed out before, the sponsors play a key role in promoting the game and encouraging schoolboy cricketers. The credit goes to Haliborange for coming forward to support Sunday Observer’s initiative to start the first school cricket awards show by becoming the sponsor of the inaugural show. Thereafter, the Bata Shoe Company took the batton before SLT Mobitel joined with a lavish sponsorship package 11 years ago.

The entry of SLT Mobitel as the principal sponsor, enabled the organizers to improve the standard of the Mega Show significantly, improving the quality of the event to solid trophies and larger cash awards.

The Observer-Mobitel partnership has not only recognized the achievements of schoolboy cricketers but also to rewarded their coaches and masters-in-charge, who make a silent contribution to produce the next generation of champion cricketers.