Too many matches have diluted school cricket – Ranjan Madugalle | Sunday Observer

Too many matches have diluted school cricket – Ranjan Madugalle

Chief guest Ranjan Madugalle addressing the audience at the 40th Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year awards night at the Hilton Hotel
Chief guest Ranjan Madugalle addressing the audience at the 40th Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year awards night at the Hilton Hotel

Former Sri Lanka cricket captain and present chief ICC Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle who was the first recipient of the prestigious Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 1979 and 40 years later the chief guest at the 40th Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year awards night held at Hilton Colombo on Tuesday passed on some key messages to three important stake holders who were present at the occasion.

The most important of the three was the one he passed onto the officials of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA).


“What I like to ask you as officials of SLSCA is it’s a tremendous honour for you have control over the nursery the cradle of our cricketing talent. To me that’s the most valuable asset in Sri Lanka’s cricket armour,” said Madugalle.

“Your vision, your dedication and your organisational capacity now and into the future will basically provide the cricket talent that our country would produce at a national level. When I look back over the last 40 years I like to reflect and see what we do in a cricketing way and a structure is relevant to the needs of today. When we played or 30 years ago we would have played 10-11 matches, today we play 22 games almost double the amount.

“Does that mean that our quality has increased at the same percentage? Why I ask you this question is just before I came here I did research the last time Sri Lanka entered the final of an under 19 tournament was in 2000 where we became runners up to India in Colombo. Does that not give you an indicator as to where we are relevant in terms of world cricket?

“I urge all you stakeholders you play a very valuable role. There is no point in someone coming here and saying things which are hunky-dory.

As I told you before these boys are not all 18 year olds some are as young as 15 their minds need to grow, their bodies need to recover, more importantly they need to have time to study. So when you play 22 games are we doing the right thing?

“Do we have time between games to work on our skills, to recover from injuries, to work on our bodies? I don’t know. I am an ageing man. You guys are the ones that control cricket that’s a thought that I want to leave you with.

“One of the joys of my job is travelling the world over and when I go to every country the first thing I do is study their under-19 structure and when I do that I know who will be the market leader or in this case the world cricket leader in the years to come. It’s time to pause, reflect, stop check and come to grips and say should we have a post correction? If the answer is no, then move on. But if the answer is yes let’s do a brainstorm because I believe that we have the talent and we have the resources to be market leaders or trailblazers as opposed to being followers.

“That comment I make with the best of intention because when we started the ceremony you saw plenty of great faces that came up who have been recipients of this wonderful award.

All what I can say is that we are grateful and thankful to the system for having brought us here. We are just servants of this game and it is in that spirit that you should focus your attention in trying to make us a better cricketing nation and the cradle is with you all. That’s a plea, that’s a request I make as a very average cricketer,” Madugalle said.


“Today is your night the night that you are rewarded for a year of hard work. When you come up to receive those awards as some of you have done don’t forget some of the team members that are not here, they are the ones who helped you to score that additional run, they are the ones who built pressure that led to a catch or a run out that helped your side win. So when you come and receive your award and go back reflect for a moment and thank your teammates. Cricket is a team game one man alone cannot win a match but one man alone can lose a match.

“They say cricket is not only a sport but a way of life – one is that cricket teaches you to play the game not only according to the laws but in the spirit it is intended to be played.

The best, the finest and most respected cricketers are those who have competed against the best and come out on top by keeping well within those parameters.

The other aspect that is fast diminishing from the world of cricket is respect. Not respect for your own team mates but more importantly respect for your opponents. “Opponents are just not ordinary people they are fellow human beings who strive as much as you strive to bring honour and dignity to the team they play and the school they represent. So please treat your opponents with the same level of respect that you would respect your own team mates. That’s fundamentally important if cricket is to remain a gentleman’s game for which it is known.

“Also remember cricket like in any other sport there will always be winners and there will always be losers, that is sure as day and night in life. So you must be big enough and mature enough to moderate the joys of victory and empathize with those who lose, for tomorrow can be a day where the roles are reversed and then you will understand why you need to moderate.

“The other point that I would like to pass on to the younger generation is that there are two aspects that you need to look after - one is your mind and the other is your body. We live in an unfriendly world and if you go out of your way to contaminate the mind and abuse your body I am afraid your life for the next phase would be much shorter than what you would expect. Remember that the mind and body does not come with a warranty you cannot go to a super market and buy spare parts for it. So do look after all what you have got.


“Your son can be the best player of all time and what I would advice you is to encourage them and spur them onto greater achievements but also create an environment where they can come to a home. Cricket is a game of pressure. So whether they do well or whether they do not so well welcome them home.

That’s the greatest gift my father and mother ever gave me. My mother didn’t know a single thing whether I scored or not, all what she did when I came home was ask “putha kanda monavada oney?”

“So I knew whether I scored a 100 or a duck or missed three catches I could go to a home. I would encourage parents to be that but surely while doing that don’t forget to correct them when they are wrong. As a parent our duty is not to produce world class cricketers alone but more importantly produce citizens of great value to our nation.”