Madugalle to grace 40th Mega Show | Sunday Observer

Madugalle to grace 40th Mega Show

3 June, 2018

It will be a fitting tribute to Sri Lanka’s first-ever schoolboy cricketer of the year award winner when the ICC’s Chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle graces the 40th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year grand finale to be held shortly.

The 59-year-old former Sri Lanka captain has accepted the invitation and confirmed his participation at the Mega Event as the chief guest. It is a great honour to have Madugalle as the chief guest, exactly 40 years after he became the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1979.

Madugalle, during his last interview with the writer, recalled his early days as a schoolboy cricketer and identified those as the best moments in his cricketing life.

He stated that he had thoroughly enjoyed his school cricket career at Royal College, Colombo. He said that he had “made some good and dear friends both on and off the field”, not only with his team mates but also from the opposing teams and his numerous supporters.

That alone shows the friendly atmosphere in which the game had been played, compared to unwarranted rivalry often witnessed at present.

The former Royal, NCC and Sri Lanka captain said he was honoured and privileged to become the first-ever recipient of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award some four decades ago, although he had never thought of individual glory.

Madugalle paid a rich tribute to the Sunday Observer and its publisher Lake House (ANCL) for understanding the need to recognize the outstanding performances of schoolboy cricketers during an era which did not have any inter-school tournament structure or an awards show to inspire schoolboy cricketers.

Born on April 22, 1959 in Kandy, Ranjan Senerath Madugalle was one of the most technically skilled Test batsmen that Sri Lanka has ever produced. He came to the limelight from his early days with a rich harvest of runs with the willow in successive seasons and had the honour of captaining the Reid Avenue boys at the centenary Royal-Thomian encounter in March, 1979.

He won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award and went on to represent Sri Lanka at the second ICC World Cup to make his ODI debut in the same year.

Madugalle made his Test debut a memorable one, scoring a half century (65) at Sri Lanka’s inaugural Test against England at the Sara Stadium in 1982. In fact, Madugalle and Arjuna Ranatunga, the second to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award, were first ever half centurions in Sri Lanka’s Test history.

In his recent interview, Madugalle was of the view that there are too many matches for a school team to honour during a season.

“A school team plays more matches now. We played about 11 matches for a season then, but now we see most school teams playing more than 20 matches a season.

This practice does no good for the physical being of young players,” said Madugalle, adding that there should be a right balance between quality and quantity.

Going down memory lane, the former Royal skipper said that there were no competitions or tournaments during their time. “We had only friendly games. But almost every inter-school game is competitive now,” he said.

Talking about school cricket in the modern era, Madugalle said that there were fewer opportunities for schoolboy cricketers in the past.

“Now they have more opportunities. Television gives the best of sport, so the fans could witness the live action in the comfort of their homes. “The poor standard of cricket that is dished out at present in school matches could also be another reason,” he was quoted as saying.

Madugalle said he had thoroughly enjoyed his school cricket career while adding that it was possibly the best moments in his cricketing life.

“Some of my early life learning lessons were picked up on the cricket field. That was a memorable period,” he added.

The former Sri Lanka captain turned Chief ICC Match Referee said he was “honoured and privileged” to become the first Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year.

“In fact, we even didn’t know that there was such an award on offer. We played traditional friendly matches to enjoy the game and not for competition or personal glory.

But it was great to feel that your hard work as a schoolboy cricketer is appreciated at the end of the season,” he continued.

When questioned about his progress from schoolboy cricketer to Sri Lanka captain and then as ICC Match Referee to the Chief ICC Match Referee, the position he holds at present, Madugalle said he was |”absolutely lucky to have been a part of each of these phases” and progress to the level what he is today.

“I have learnt many a lessons during each of those phases, not only in cricket but also life’s experience. It has been a privilege, something I will treasure,” he said.

Madugalle’s advice to present day schoolboy cricketers is simple but exemplary. “Enjoy the game! It is the foremost. Play by the laws. Always remember that the game is bigger than the individual. Respect your opponent as much as you respect your own team mates”.

Since its humble beginnings at Nawarangahala way back in 1979 with Madugalle’s crowning glory, Sri Lanka’s premier school cricket awards show has come a long way to become the most sought after event in the school cricket calendar.

Under the directions of the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Telecom and SLT Mobitel P.G. Kumarasingha, the Chief Executive Officer of the SLT Mobitel Nalin Perera has made a great contribution towards the success of the event during the past decade.

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year continues to enjoy the longstanding association of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA) and the Sri Lanka Cricket Umpires Association with the blessings of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

Meanwhile, voting for the most popular segments of the 40th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contests continues under three divisions. Voting for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contests could be made through voting coupons which continue to appear in the Daily News, Sunday Observer, Dinamina and Thinakaran.