When a Cambrian shot to fame | Sunday Observer

When a Cambrian shot to fame

Sahan Wijeratne - first ever Cambrian to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 2002
Sahan Wijeratne - first ever Cambrian to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 2002

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year produced its first ever Cambrian who won the top award in Sahan Wijeratne who sported the crown in 2002 some 24 years after the inauguration of the event.

The promising cricketer from Prince of Wales became the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 2002, the third in the new millennium after Kaushalya Weeraratne of Trinity College, Kandy in 2000 and Kaushal Lokuarachchi of St. Peter’s College in 2001.

Although Wijeratne won the dream title in 2002, he was not able to go beyond Sri Lanka youth level to play in either Tests or One Day Internationals for Sri Lanka.

Though he had proved his credentials at school level, he was not lucky enough to get a call from the national selectors at that time. He was named Sri Lanka Under-19 team captain in 2002 but he did not get an opportunity to go beyond Sri Lanka A level.

But when he was entering the big league from school level as Sri Lanka Under-19 captain, many spoke in glowing terms of him as a future star of Sri Lanka. However, somewhere in-between he seemed to have lost his way or rather not been given the breaks he deserved. His father once said that his son is the only Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year not to have played for Sri Lanka.

His rise in 2001 and 2002, saw his fame soar rapidly from his school days and earned a contract by Sri Lanka Cricket, but that was as far as he got for he was never continuously selected to play in the ‘A’ teams or the Development squads.

He was drawn into the Sri Lanka A team in 2002 and played for the Board President’s X1 but other than that opportunities had been few and far between. In 2012, he was a member of the Seylan Bank team that won the Mercantile ‘A’ division final.

Young Wijeratne had a distinguished career at school captaining Prince of Wales in the under 13, under 15, under 17 and under 19 teams. He led Prince of Wales first X1 team in 2001 and 2002 and then led the Sri Lanka under 19 team in 2003.

Wijeratne also secured a six-month scholarship in England in 2002 and played in the Middlesex league and later for three years from 2009 in the county circuit.

He had an exceptional school year as his final appearance for Prince of Wales in 2002 saw him being selected the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year and also won the Best Batsman award.

The following year he was awarded the Prince Charles trophy for being the best under 19 all-island cricketer by the British High Commission.

Born on August 27, 1984 in Colombo, Mahamandige Sahan Rangana Wijeratne was a classy batsman with a fine temperament who was a prolific scorer in domestic cricket scoring over 4000 runs in first-class cricket with four centuries. In domestic competitive cricket, he represented Chilaw Marians Cricket Club, Moors Sports Club and Nondescripts Cricket Club.

Meanwhile, the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer and Schoolgirl Cricketer of the Year contests of the year are continuing at a rapid pace with a ding-dong battle for supremacy. The top five in each category are engaged in a keen battle for supremacy for the most popular crowns.

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year is organized by the Sri Lanka’s oldest national newspaper the Sunday Observer and sponsored by the national mobile communication provider SLT Mobitel. This is the 12th consecutive year in which Mobitel is providing its financial support.

The financial backing of Mobitel has taken the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest to great heights and has not only helped to improve the quality of the contest with lucrative price money but also has helped to reward coaches and masters-in-charge of champion teams. In a unique gesture of goodwill and fair play, a special award for the best behaved team too is on offer.

This award was added to the glorious award list on a suggestion made by none other than the first recipient of the most sought after award in school cricket Ranjan Madugalle, the current Chief Match Referee of the ICC who won the title in 1978-79. He was the chief guest at last year’s mega show which marked the 40th anniversary.

When the recent success is talked about, we cannot forget the lavish contribution made by the Chief Executive Officer of Mobitel Nalin Perera towards the show in every aspect under the guidance of the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Telecom and SLT Mobitel Kumarasinghe Sirisena.

Chairman and Managing Director of Lake House, Krishantha Cooray has provided his innovative ideas to guide the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year towards new horizons.

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year has been the first inter-school awards ceremony in Sri Lanka which commenced some 41 years ago even when the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association had not even thought of rewarding outstanding schoolboy cricketers.

In fact, the SLSCA had not even thought of a First XI tournament structure for two-day games at that time, more than four decades ago.

That is precisely why the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year remains the Mother of All Shows.

That is why winning an award at the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy of the Year show remains the cherished dream of thousands of schoolboy cricketers.