Race hots up in final lap | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Race hots up in final lap

Ranjan Madugalle
Ranjan Madugalle

The ever popular Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of The Year 2019 contest has reached its final lap with the commencement of the all important first term inter-school cricket matches.

Thus, the voting for the 41st Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of The Year 2019 competition will gather momentum with coupons appearing in the Sunday Observer, Daily News, Dinamina and Thinakaran.

The 2018/19 school cricket season is conducted in three divisions, namely division 1, 2 and 3. In division one there are 36 schools, in division two there are 32 schools and in division 3 the highest number of schools (215 teams under two segments) covering all parts of the country.

It was a fitting tribute to the first-ever Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year – Ranjan Madugalle, to grace last year’s 40th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest mega finale as the chief guest. The former Royal College, NCC and Sri Lanka captain turned ICC Chief Match Referee said it was an absolute privilege and that he was deeply humbled to be the chief guest after four decades.

“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. I stand before you tonight overcome with an obvious sense of nostalgia,” said Madugalle as the chief guest.

“Exactly four decades later, I am addressing you as the chief guest 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, really because I have children but they are girls,” he was quoted as saying.

“Some people try to hide their age. But I am proud to say that I was born in 1959. In another ten years time, you will celebrate your 50th Observer-Mobitel School Cricketer of the Year awards and I promise you if I have any life left in me even in a turbo-charged wheelchair I will definitely come to cheer you all,” Madugalle said.

“The wonderful game of cricket has given me many joyful moments in life. In simple, cricket has given me a life more than anything. It has taught me to live as a useful citizen,” he added. Madugalle strongly believes that the achievements accomplished on the field of play only lasts for a period of time but what matters most is how one conducts himself as a person and a human being and more importantly as a citizen of the country.

“That’s the most important quality all of you should have. That is something that I will always tell anyone I meet anywhere,” he said.

As in the past, there will be valuable awards for the outstanding schoolboy cricketers as well as schoolgirls. The main awards such as The Schoolboy Cricketer Of The Year, Best batsman, Best Bowler, Best Fielder and Best All-Rounder will receive National awards in recognition of their efforts.

Besides these main awards, division 1, 2 and 3 awards will be presented to the winners of best batsman, best bowler, best fielder and best all-rounder in the three divisions. There will also be team awards in all three categories and a special award for the Best Behaved Team for maintaining the highest level of discipline which award was introduced by Madugalle about a decade ago.

All schools playing in division 1, 2 and 3 will be considered for these awards under Best Batsman, Best Bowler, Best All-rounder and Best Fielder. The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of The Year will be picked by a special panel comprising umpires from the ACUSL, SLSCA officials and National selectors.

The contest has won many accolades from past cricketers as they consider it as a stepping stone for greater honours to the young schoolboy cricketers. The Schoolboy Cricketer contest which had many sponsors in the past first began in 1978 which Madugalle from Royal College won for two consecutive years.

It has produced many Test cricketers including Arjuna Ranatunga, Roshan Mahanama, Asanka Gurusinha, Roshan Jurangpathy, Sanjeeva Ranatunga, Kumara Dharmasena, Marvan Atapattu, Muttiah Muralitharan to name a few and the latest addition being the present Sri Lanka vice captain Dinesh Chandimal who won the contest in 2009. Kusal Mendis of Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa won the National award of Schoolboy Cricketer Of The year 2013.

The 41st Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer contest will be sponsored for the 12th successive year by Sri Lanka’s national mobile service provider SLT Mobitel. The CEO of Mobitel Nalin Perea has shown a keen interest in fostering school cricket which has always been the stepping stone to the national pool.

For the past 40 years the contest has produced the bulk of schoolboy cricketers and many of them donning the Test cap for the country. According to knowledgeable past cricketers the contest has been classified as a stepping stone for future cricketers to sport the country’s colours.. The contest has gone beyond winning only prizes as the Chief ICC Match Referee Madugalle and Kumara Dharmasena (ICC Elite Panel of Umpires) both who are recipients of the Schoolboy Cricketer award are now prominent figures in the ICC.

For the first time in the history of the contest, last year the contest was held in three categories mainly, Platinum, Gold and Silver. Platinum is for the A division cricket playing schools and with the introduction of the Gold and Silver more opportunities have been created for schools in the outstations.

It is a known fact that an abundance of talent is oozing in the rural areas judging by the number of players who have emerged from those parts of the country.

The Sunday Observer and Mobitel who are fully aware of this fact are going all out to recognize the players from the metropolis and beyond.

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