Weeraratne’s best still unsurpassed | Sunday Observer

Weeraratne’s best still unsurpassed

5 May, 2019

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, which will be held for the 41st year this time, reached the new millennium when Kaushalya Weeraratne emerged the star at the Mega Show.

Weeraratne of Trinity College, Kandy emerged the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in the year 2000 with a stunning record in the 1999-2000 inter-school cricket season.

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year is sponsored by Sri Lanka’s premier mobile service provider SLT Mobitel for the 12th successive year.

Former Sri Lanka cricketer Weeraratne was better known as a right-arm medium pacemen whose stock delivery was the out-swinger. He was earmarked early as an all-rounder for the future after his successful school career. His vicious bowling was stronger than his batting during his early career at Trinity.

But as a batsman, he was blessed with the ability to hit the ball cleanly. Weeraratne, still being a schoolboy cricketer for the hill capital school, was an integral part of Sri Lanka’s Under-19 World Cup squad in 2000. He captured 12 wickets at an average of 13 apiece which accelerated his promotion to the national team.

Months after being the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year2000, Weeraratne made his ODI debut in the Asia Cup also in the same year. Unfortunately, his poor form and injury resulted in Weeraratne failing to cement his place in the national team.

He spent nearly five years on the sidelines after his 11th ODI in 2003 before he forced himself back into reckoning after successfully remodeling his action and scored a blistering half-century off 12 balls, which was the fastest fifty in one-day cricket, during a domestic match in 2005. Weeraratne nudged the national selectors for inclusion in the national squad for the tour of the West Indies and the Asia Cup in 2008.

Born on January 29, 1981 in Gampola, Weeraratne was a left-handed batsman and a right-arm fast medium bowler. He represented Sri Lanka in 15 One Day Internationals and five T20 matches. Weeraratne made a stunning T20 debut for Sri Lanka capturing 4 for 19 in four overs and scoring 20 not out off 13 balls against Pakistan at King City, Canada in October in 2008.

On November 1, 2005, Weeraratne accounted for what was then the fastest fifty in limited-overs history, taking just 12 balls to reach the milestone, three balls fewer than the then previous record held by Adam Hollioake. Weeraratne, who finished with 66 off 18 balls, hit seven sixes and two fours on his way to fifty. That included five straight sixes off 40-year-old slow left-armer Ajith Ekanayake in an over which went for 34. He was playing for Ragama against Kurunegala Youth at the Thurstan College ground in Colombo.

The former Observer Schoolboy Cricketer, apart from playing for Sri Lanka in ODIs and T20s, was also fortunate to represent Sri Lanka ‘A’, led by Russel Arnold on the tour of South Africa in September-October 2003.

Weeraratne was the first Trinity lion to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title. Besides him, two others from Trinity College have won the main title – Niroshan Dickwella in 2012 who went on to play for Sri Lanka and Hasitha Boyagoda in 2018.

Meanwhile, the contest for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year and Observer-Mobitel Schoolgirl Cricketer of the Year contests are becoming even more competitive with heavy polling in the last past weeks.

When the success of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year is talked about, one cannot forget the lavish contribution made by SLT Mobitel during the past 12 years. Since Mobitel joined hands with Sri Lanka’s premier English newspaper the Sunday Observer, the Mega Show has gone from strength to strength in every aspect.

Especially the dynamic vision of Mobitel’s CEO Nalin Perera has helped the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year to reach new horizons. His passion for sport, especially cricket, has helped the organisers to strengthen the quality of the show by providing memories as the country’s first school cricket awards show.

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year show has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1978-1979.

It has produced some legendary cricketers for Sri Lanka, beginning with ICC Chief Referee and ex-national captain Ranjan Madugalle in the first year and World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga in the second year.

The galaxy of stars include world record holder for most number of Test wickets Muttiah Muralitharan, the most valuable player of 1996 World Cup tournament won by Sri Lanka Sanath Jayasuriya and former Sri Lanka player and the best ICC elite panel umpire Kamar Dharmasea.

Among the other big time cricketers who had won the prestigious title are former world champion winning players Asanka Gurusinha and Roshan Mahanama and former Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu.

Hence, there is a tremendous value in winning this glittering trophy which would almost assure one’s place in the national team after leaving school. That is why winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title has remained every schoolboy cricketers’ ultimate dream.