Jurangpathy: Enticed, cold-shouldered and discarded | Sunday Observer

Jurangpathy: Enticed, cold-shouldered and discarded

Roshan Jurangpathy
Roshan Jurangpathy

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of Year contest has picked some of the top cricketers over its four decades of rich history and existence.

Ranjan Madugalle is the proud first ever winner of this prestigious award in 1978/ 1979 when he was captaining Royal College. Since then, it took eight years to pick another distinguished schoolboy cricketer from the Reid Avenue school.

After Arjruna Ranatunga (Ananda - 1980 and 1982), Rohan Buultjens (St. Peter’s), Roshan Mahanama (1983 and 1984) and Asanka Gurusinha (1985), yet another outstanding cricketer brought fame to Royal College in 1986. He is none other than Roshan Jurangpathy, who made a big name in the schools arena at that time as an aggressive batsman and an effective off spinner.

Jurangpathy went on to represent Sri Lanka mainly as a spinner but the national selectors of that time did not give him a fair deal.

Jurangpathy was the fourth-youngest player to represent Sri Lanka as a supremely gifted all rounder. But the selectors showed little or no interest to persevere with him and discarded him after only playing him in two Tests.

Although his efforts were below par in the two Tests, considering his age, if the selectors had shown faith and guided him with time he could have developed into an all rounder of international class. He shot into prominence when representing the Sri Lanka Under-23 side against Pakistan with some remarkable performances.

At 17 years and 342 days he became the youngest Sri Lankan player to score a first-class hundred. Unfortunately, he found the transition from schoolboy to Test cricket a difficult one with hardly any opportunity and time to blossom. Moreover, he was under-bowled in his Test debut.

Discarded by the selectors and ignored somewhat harshly thereafter he later turned up playing grade cricket in Western Australia.

Jura, as he was affectionately known, was a household name in school cricket during that era and the country lost a cricketer of promise as he later domiciled in Australia.

The Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest has produced a group of elite cricketers who have engraved their names in Sri Lanka cricket history in letters of gold.

The first recipient of the coveted title, Ranjan Madugalle not only reached the pinnacle of his career as a cricketer by going on to captain Sri Lanka but also reached the very top as an official by becoming the Chief ICC Match Referee.

Former Ananda captain Ranatunga, who won the title after Madugalle in 1980, is another great Sri Lanka cricketer who marshaled the national team to conquer the ‘Mount Everest’ of world cricket. Ranatunga, who became the First Schoolboy Cricketer to win the Mega Award twice in 1982, captained Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning team in 1996.

The galaxy of stars who have shone in the Lankan cricket firmament include the world’s highest Test wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharn, the Most Valuable Player award winner in the 1996 World Cup tournament Sanath Jayasuriya (outstation title), former Sri Lanka captain and ex-national coach Marvan Atapattu (1990), former Sri Lanka captain and ex-ICC Match Referee Roshan Mahanama, former Sri Lanka player cum 1996 World Cup star turned manager of the present Sri Lanka team Asanka Gurusinha, former Sri Lanka player and ICC Elite Panel Umpire Kumara Dharmasena and ex Sri Lanka Test batsman turned batting coach of the Bangladesh nation team Thilan Samaraweera (1994 and 1995).

Three members of the current Sri Lanka pool have won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year titles during their school careers in recent times. They are former Sri Lanka T20 captain Dinesh Chandimal (Ananda - 2009), Niroshan Dickwella (Trinity – 2012) and Kusal Mendis (Prince of Wales - 2013).

Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis are two youngsters who have stepped into the national team after winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award on successive years (2012 and 2013 respectively) and cemented their places in quick time.

Apart from those popular figures, there are several other past award winners who have proved their class with the Sri Lanka team and at various other levels. Among them are Rohan Buultjens (1981), Rohan Weerakkody (St.Joseph’s - 1987), Sanjeeva Ranatunga (Ananda - 1988), Sajith Fernando (St.Anthony’s, Katugastota - 1992), Naveed Nawaz (DS. Senanayake - 1993), Nimesh Perera (St Sebastian’s, Moratuwa - 1996), Chinthaka Jayasinghe (Dharmapala -1997), Pradeep Hewage (St.Benedict’s - 1998), Muthumudalige Pushpakumara (Ananda - 1999), Kaushalya Weeraratne (Trinity - 2000), Kaushal Lokuarachchi (St.Peter’s - 2001), Sahan Wijeratne (Prince Of Wales - 2002), Farveez Maharoof (Wesley - 2003), Lahiru Peiris (St.Peter’s – 2004 and 2005), Gihan Rupasinghe (Nalanda - 2006), Malith Gunatilleka (Ananda - 2007), Umesh Karunaratne (Thurstan - 2008), Bhanuka Rajapakse (Royal – 2010 and 2011), Sadeera Samarawickrema (St.Joseph’s - 2014) and Charith Asanlanka (Richmond – 2015 and 2016).

Asalanka who has won the big award in successive years on two occasions represented Sri Lanka ‘A’ against England Lions at Pallekele earlier this year.

Sanjeewa Ranatunga too went on to represent Sri Lanka in Test cricket. In nine matches, he had aggregated 531 runs with two centuries. He had also played 13 ODIs for Sri Lanka and scored two half centuries.

Among the other former Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award winners who had represented Sri Lanka at the highest level are Farveez Maharoof (22 Tests and 109 ODIs), Muthumudalige Pushpakumara (three ODIs), Naweed Nawaz (one Test, three ODIs), Kausal Lokuarachchi (four Tests and 21 ODIs) and Kaushalya Weeraratne (15 ODIs and five T20I).