Countdown begins | Sunday Observer

Countdown begins

Hasitha Boyagoda   Schoolboy Cricketer 2018-Sachin Silva  Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer 2018
Hasitha Boyagoda Schoolboy Cricketer 2018-Sachin Silva Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer 2018

With the schools cricket season about to unfold the 41st Mobitel Sunday Observer Schools cricketer contest was launched with the generous support of Mobitel. Chairman of Lake House Wasanthapriya Ramanayake and head of operations of Mobitel Telecom Nalin de Silva were present.

This year however, the event reaches a new phase and will be looking out for the best boy and girl cricketers of the year to encourage and foster more girls’ schools to take to the game.

Sri Lanka’s women cricketers are having fluctuating fortunes at present and need more players of high quality to take over and perform better at national level.

Sri Lanka also needs high quality schoolboy cricketers as did in the past. They could match any team in the world in that age category during the early years, but of late this has not happened. Therefore there is a great need to encourage the schoolboy cricketers to raise their standard.

No doubt, already there are a few quality players in the likes of Kalana Perera and Kamindu Mendis of S. Thomas’ fame. Kalana Perera has excelled with both ball and bat while Kamindu has displayed his talent for his ability to bowl with both his arms. This type of bowling can fox out any batsman in the world at that level.

The full cricket season will bloom into full gear after the GCE (Ordinary level) examination in December and the search will begin.

Nevertheless, the usual coupon where readers can vote for the Most Popular players will be run in the Daily News, Sunday Observer, Thinakaran, Dinamina and Tharuni newspapers.

Schoolgirls received some awards last year, but this season there will be more awards on offer. Those will be for the best batswoman, best bowler, best all rounder, best fielder, best schoolgirl cricketer of the year 2019, best schoolgirl cricketer runner-up 2019, best international schoolgirl cricketer 2019, best school girl team and runner-up team the best schoolgirl up and coming team of the year.

The purpose of having this contest is to encourage the players perform better and reach national level in the game. Many schoolboy cricketers who won this contest have gone on to play for the national team. Some of them are Ranjan Madugalle, Roshan Mahanama, Aravinda de Silva, Kumara Dharmasena, just to name a few. This should be the case with the girls too who will be encouraged to perform better and gain recognition. Should they do well a few could be picked and included into the national pool for further training.

We still hear of Sashikala Siriwardane performing well with bat and ball. She was the former captain of the Sri Lanka women’s team and still good enough to remain among the top rung players. We should hear of some new names coming up with the introduction of this contest for school girl cricketers.

Madugalle speaks:

Chief guest at the 40th Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year awards night Ranjan Madugalle promised that he is prepared to attend the 50th awards night of this prestigious function even travelling on a turbo-charged wheel chair.

Madugalle who was the first recipient of this contest in 1979 when he won the Schoolboy Cricketer award as the captain of Royal College recalled nostalgic moments during his speech that was well received by the packed audience at the Colombo Hilton Hotel in July this year.

“I consider it an absolute privilege and I am deeply humbled to be in your midst. As I stand before you tonight an obvious sense of nostalgia overcomes me. It was some 40 years ago that I was on your side. I was much younger, I didn’t have grey hair, I didn’t wear spectacles and more importantly I was single,” said Madugalle.

“Forty years later I am on this side speaking to you as someone who’s played the game, someone who’s walked the life as a cricketer officially, locally and internationally but more importantly as a father of cricket, really because I have children but they are girls.

“In another ten years time you will celebrate your 50th Observer School Cricketer of the Year award and I promise you if I have any life left in me I’ll come to cheer you all even in a turbo-charged wheelchair,” Madugalle said.

Speaking further the former Sri Lanka captain and current ICC chief Match Referee said: “Cricket has given me many joys, cricket has given me a life more than anything. Cricket has taught me to live as a useful citizen of my country.”

Compliment to ANCL and Mobitel:

Madugalle wound up his speech by complimenting the organisers ANCL and the sponsors Mobitel.

“No event can be completed or done successfully without the or­ganizational capacity and sponsorship. I like to thank ANCL for year on year for having staged this function which is getting better and better. It is marked in the school calendar as cricket’s spot of the year.

Thanks also to Mobitel for providing the sponsorship and without generous resources this kind of event cannot take place.

“On behalf of the cricketing fra­ternity may I thank the organizers and the sponsors for the wonderful work they have done over the years. Mobitel as well as Observer ANCL have done great work once again for being innovators trying to make this awards ceremony bigger, better and more relevant than ever before. Well done.”