The ups and downs of Dickwella | Sunday Observer

The ups and downs of Dickwella

Niroshan Dickwella
Niroshan Dickwella

Trinity Lion Niroshan Dickwella is another promising cricketer gifted to Sri Lanka cricket through the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest which has remained as undisputed leader in rewarding schoolboy cricketers for over 40 years.

The attacking left-hand and unorthodox wicket keeper-batsman first came to the limelight when he won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2012 after a splendid school season for Trinity College, Kandy.

His arrival to first-class cricket was signaled by some hype through his stellar school cricket career, having scored over 1000 runs in his final school season for Trinity with distinction. Ever since, Dickwella became NCC’s regular wicket keeper batsman across all premier division domestic competitions.

Former Sri Lanka captain and 2009 Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Dinesh Chandimal’s long absences from domestic cricket, due to his presence in the national team, also largely contributed to Dickwella becoming NCC’s stumper doing a successful job.

He made his Test debut as far back as July 2014 - at the age of 21. But a debut half century, Dickwella could not hold his place for long. His second comeback to international cricket in 2017, brought better success some impressive range of behind-the-stumps strokes - all manner of sweeps, scoops and ramp shots.

After 51 ODIs for Sri Lanka, Dickwella unfortunately could not find a place in the Sri Lanka team to the recently concluded ICC World Cup tournament in England. But he then made full use of the opportunity he got with the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team, to prove that he should have been in the squad to England

He made a splendid century and was associated in a 165-run opening partnership with Sangeeth Cooray which gave Sri Lanka ‘A’ a seven-wicket win against India ‘A’. This helped Sri Lanka ‘A’ to level the five-match unofficial ODI series two-all.

Put in to bat in Hubli earlier this year, India ‘A’ were anchored by a half-century from in-form opener Ruturaj Gaikwad (74 off 73 balls), who also helped stitch together two half-century stands for the second and third wickets after the early loss of Prashant Chopra, making 259 all out.

Dickwella (111 off 93) and Cooray (61 off 74) laid a solid foundation in their pursuit of the 260-run target, striking at over six an over during their 165-run alliance.

Dickwella Patabendige Dilantha Niroshan Dickwella was born on June 23, 1993, is better known for executing his left handed ‘Dilscoops’. In November 2017, he was named the Emerging Cricketer of the Year for the 2016–17 season at Sri Lanka Cricket’s annual awards Nite.

He was named as the vice-captain of Kandy’s squad for the 2017–18 Super Provincial Tournament in March 2018 and was the leading run-scorer for Kandy during the tournament, with 315 runs in three matches. The following month, he was also named as the vice-captain of Kandy’s squad for the 2018 Super Provincial One Day Tournament.

Dickwella was named in Galle’s squad for the 2018 SLC T20 League in August 2018. In the following year, he was named in Dambulla’s squad for the 2019 Super Provincial One Day tournament. In June 2019, he was selected to play for the Montreal Tigers franchise team in the 2019 Global T20 Canada tournament.

The outstanding Trinity Lion has so far represented Sri Lanka in 31 Tests, scoring 1,626 runs inclusive of 11 half centuries with a top score of 83, averaging 30.11. In 51 ODIs, he has aggregated 1,571 runs with two centuries and nine half tons with an average of 32.74 that gives him an impressive strike rate of 93.56.

Dickwella is five short of completing 100 dismissals behind the stumps with 78 catches and 17 stumpings. He is also three short of 50 dismissals in ODIs, having taken 38 catches and nine stumpings.

He made a dream Test debut exactly two years after winning the Obserer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, making a majestic 72. Coming in at No.7 making his Test debut in Sri Lanka’s second Test against South Africa at the SSC ground in July 2014, he played like an experienced batsman to score 72 off 116 balls in 195 minutes with one six and eight fours in Sri Lanka’s first innings.

Even in his last Test against South Africa at Port Elizabeth, he made a top score of 42 to become one of the architects of Sri Lanka’s superb eight-wicket win last February.

He made his Twenty20 International (T20I) debut for Sri Lanka against India on February 9, 2016. He scored his maiden T20I fifty which was a match-winning knock in the third match, which ensured the first series win against South Africa on their home soil in any format. Dickwella was adjudged both man of the match and player of the series for his match-winning batting performances.

He scored his first ODI century on July 6, 2017 against Zimbabwe at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium. Along with Danushka Gunathilaka, they put on a 229-run partnership for the first wicket, where Gunathilaka also scored his first ODI century. Sri Lanka chased 310 to win the match, which was the first 300-plus chase by Sri Lanka on home soil.

In the fourth of five-match ODI against Zimbabwe, he and Danushka Gunathilaka set the record for becoming the first pair of batsmen to score two successive 200-plus partnerships in ODIs.

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.

Winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title has remained 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. Thanks to the untiring efforts of Sri Lanka Telecom Chairman Kumarasinghe Sirisena while SLT Mobitel Chief Executive Officer Nalin Perera has 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.