Madugalle, Dharmasena in a unique stand | Sunday Observer

Madugalle, Dharmasena in a unique stand

7 July, 2019
Ranjan Madugalle and Kumara Dharmasena
Ranjan Madugalle and Kumara Dharmasena

Two leading former Observer Schoolboy Cricketers of the Year main award winners have showcased Sri Lanka’s glory to the world once more in the 2019 ICC World Cup by playing two different major roles as officials.

Former Sri Lanka captain Ranjan Madugalle is once again playing the all-important role of ICC’s Chief Match Referee while the ICC’s top award winning former World Cup winner Kumara Dharmasena is serving in the elite umpires’ panel.

Up to the last India-Bangladesh World Cup match on Tuesday, Madugalle has officiated in a record 356 ODIs, apart from the 187 Tests and 99 T20 Internationals as ICC Match Referee. He was the first ever Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1978/79.

In contrast, Dharmasena who won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1989, has umpired 60 Tests. The World Cup match between England and India on June 30, was his 100th as an ICC elite panel umpire. In addition, he has officiated in 22 T20 Internationals.

Ranjan Senerath Madugalle was born on April 22, 1959 in Kandy and was an ever-present fixture during Lanka’s formative years in the Test arena. He was a stylish right-hand batsman but unfortunately his career record perhaps does not reflect his talent.

Madugalle was a solid performer during his career though at Test level the large scores eluded him. His only Test century was made against India in 1985-86 at the SSC ground. He was far more comfortable on home wickets averaging a healthy 42.76.

Only once he had been in a winning Test side while Sri Lanka had lost both the Tests he had captained – one each against Australia and England.

He became an ICC Match Referee in 1993 and in 2001 he was elevated as the Chief Match Referee, replacing West Indian Clive Lloyd. His easy-going exterior and charming personality are masks for someone who has a reputation as a strict disciplinarian to remain as match referee for 26 years, 19 years as the chief.

Madugalle who celebrated his 60th birthday on April 22, has represented Sri Lanka in 21 Tests, scoring 1,029 runs which includes a brilliant 103 and seven half centuries. In 63 ODIs, he has aggregated 950 runs with three half centuries.

The stylish former Royal College captain was a member of the Sri Lanka team to play in the country’s first ever Test team. In fact, Madugalle (65) and another Observer Schoolboy Cricketer Arjuna Ranatunga (54) were the first Sri Lankans to score half centuries in Test cricket, in the historic match against England played at the Saravanamuttu Stadium in February 1982.

Handunnettige Deepthi Priyantha Kumara Dharmasena was born on April 24, 1971 in Colombo. Having won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 1989, he stepped into the international scene in 1994 against South Africa.

Dharmasena’s quickish off spinners, with a slightly unorthodox action, were invariably accurate making him an ideal one-day bowler, especially in slow wickets in the subcontinent. He also became a useful middle order batsman, which guaranteed him a regular place in the Sri Lankan one-day squad.

Playing in 141 ODIs, Dharmasena has scored 1,222 runs with four half tons. That includes his valuable contributions at the 1996 ICC World Cup tournament which Sri Lanka emerged champions under Ranatunga. Dharmasena also has aggregated 868 Test runs in 31 matches to his credit with three half centuries.

He retired from competitive cricket in November 2006 to pursue a career in umpiring and made his international umpiring debut in 2009. He was part of the panel of 18 umpires selected for the World Cup in India in 2011, officiating in the tournament opener between Bangladesh and India in Mirpur, and later the same year was promoted to the ICC Elite Panel.

He has enjoyed a highly successful career as an international cricket umpire, enjoying glory from all corners of the globe. At the ICC awards show held earlier this year, Dharmasena won the David Shepherd Award for the ICC umpire of the year for the second time for the year 2018. Earlier, he won the same award in 2012.

“It has been a very satisfying year for me and this award from the ICC is a great honour and privilege. This comes six years after I was first named for the award and will inspire me to keep doing the job I love so much. I have always been passionate about cricket, both as a player and an umpire and look forward to keep working hard and challenging myself in order to meet the demands of this great game,” Dharmasena was quoted as saying after being voted the best elite panel umpire for the second time.

Meanwhile, the 41th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest is scheduled to be held shortly. This will be the 12th consecutive year that SLT Mobitel will be sponsoring the Mega Show, Sri Lanka’s first schools cricket awards show which had started in an era in which there had not been even an inter-school tournament.

Hence, winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title has been the dream of every schoolboy cricketer. Moreover, there is a common belief among schoolboy cricketers that the prestigious title would take them closer to sporting the Sri Lanka ‘cap’. Most past winners of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer title had made their Sri Lanka debut in double quick time.

SLT Mobitel has played a key role in the promotion of the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year during the past 12 years.

Thanks to the untiring efforts of Sri Lanka Telecom Chairman Kumarasinghe Sirisena and SLT Mobitel Chief Executive Officer Nalin Perera who have played a dynamic role in promoting school cricket in a big way. The unique vision of Lake House Chairman, Krishantha Cooray has always helped this event to go from strength to strength.