Coaches should not win at any cost - Sanjeewa Ranatunga | Sunday Observer

Coaches should not win at any cost - Sanjeewa Ranatunga

24 March, 2019

Former Sri Lanka batsman and present Ananda College coach Sanjeeva Ranatunga said that everyone must keep in mind that it’s not winning or losing that matters but how one played the game.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer, the former Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year said schoolboy cricketers must play only for the love of the game while coaches should refrain from trying to win at any cost.

“These ugly practices ruin the game. During our playing era, these ugly practices were not followed,” said Sanjeewa Ranatunga who has just begun a stint at his alma mater as head coach in an honoury capacity.

“It is with profound gratitude I remember coaches like Lionel Mendis. They taught us not only the game but also values. They were interested in building teams with values, not to win at any cost,” he said.

Sanjeeva said he was keen on becoming Observer Schoolboy Cricketer after seeing his elder brother Arjuna winning glory for the second time in 1982. “I was there to witness my elder winning this unique title once again, emerging out of a cricket ball. That inspired me that l too should do the same. I narrowly missed it in 1987, by finishing runner-up but achieved the cherished dream in the following year,” he said.

Ranatunga became the sixth Anandian to win the prestigious Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 1988. He played in only eight matches excluding the big match out of 12, as he was playing for the Sri Lanka youth team in 1988 but still aggregated 900-plus runs.

The star left handed batsman, Sanjeeva had the honour of leading the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team and he also represented the country in Tests and One-day Internationals.

He made his Test debut for Sri Lanka on August 26, 1994 in Kandy against Pakistan. His short nine-Test career had only an aggregate of 531 runs but included two centuries and an equal number of fifties. Ranatunga’s ODI debut for Sri Lanka came days ahead of Tests, on August 3, 1994 also against Pakistan. His career-best innings in Tests was 118 while his top knock in ODIs was 70.

“I really earned my place in Zimbabwe. I scored a century in the three-day practice match and they were compelled to give me a place in the Test team.

“The two Test centuries I scored in Zimbabwe were great. The penultimate day was disappointing on the ground as well as off as the then SLC President, Minister Gamini Dissanayake had passed away. We were keen on saving the match for him,” he recalled.

“All of us wanted to save the match on the final day. Moreover, my brother (Arjuna) said don’t ever return to the dressing room without completing a century and l just did that,” he said.

But he recalled twin fifties he scored in the Adelaide Test as his best. “It was under more challenging circumstances against a far superior Australian bowling attack,” he pointed out.

The talented left-handed top order batsman who celebrates his 50th birthday on April 25 had a rich harvest of runs in club cricket. Unlike his famous elder brother Arjuna, Sanjeeva hardly hit mighty sixes at international level, but he was a talented left-hand batsman at domestic level.

He scored heavily at the inter-school level for Ananda to be adjudged Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1988, six years after his elder brother became the first to win the title twice. He then represented Sri Lanka ‘A’ on several occasions, after which he was picked for the home series against Pakistan in 1994.

Sanjeewa began well in the one-day series, scoring 70 only in his second match, but his form dropped and he played the last of his 13 ODIs in January 1996. In contrast, he showed more promise in Test cricket, with back to back centuries in Zimbabwe in his second and third matches - his average after seven Tests was 59.71 - and was given the chance to tour New Zealand, Pakistan and Australia.

Unfortunately, his international cricket proved a difficult hurdle and he was dropped from the side. A somewhat controversial recall came in June 1997, for Sri Lanka’s tour to the West Indies, but one poor match ruined his international career.

Meanwhile, the 2018/19 inter-school season is coming to an end with the conclusion of the 2018/19 inter-school season with the end of the big matches and the beginning of the inter-school limited over tournament.

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year completed its 40 years last year with the most deserving chief guest – the 1979 Royal College captain Ranjan Madugalle.

Former Trinity skipper Hasitha Boyagoda was awarded the Observer - Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2018 at the 40th Observer - Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year show. Former Sri Lanka captain and present ICC Chief Match Referee, Madugalle was the chief guest at last year’s event.

Boyagoda who snatched a world record in the World Cup was awarded the the Under-19 Division I Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award. He scored 597 runs in seven games at an average of 85.29 in the 2017/18 school season and went on to captain Sri Lanka U-19 in the last Under-19 World Cup and his team managed to win the plate trophy. Harshitha Madhavi of Anula Vidyalaya won the Best All-Rounder prize in the Under-19 Girls Category.

Maris Stella College opener Lasith Croospulle was the winner of the Best Batsman award in the Division I category while Prince of Wales captain Savindu Peiris was awarded the Best Bowler of the Year award in 2017/18. Maheesh Theekshana was awarded the Best All-Rounder of the Year prize.

Richmond College, Galle was awarded the Best Team of the Year award while Nalanda College, Colombo was awarded the challenge trophy for the Best Behaved on and off the field, award on a proposal made by the first-ever winner of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year and current ICC Chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle.