Former winners pay master tributes | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Former winners pay master tributes

Sri Lanka’s cricketing stalwarts paid glowing tributes to the country’s premier school cricket awards show with just 11 days to go for the 41st Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2019 show to be held at the Main Ballroom of the Colombo Hilton on September 20.

These legendary cricketers said that the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year is a great concept that not only helped them to blossom in yesteryears but also continues to inspire the next generation cricketers.

The organizers the Sunday Observer and sponsors SLT Mobitel have finalized preparations to conduct the Mega Show in a big way, continuing its rich traditions that have been maintained since 1978.

Ever since its inception way back in 1978/79, the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest has produced many elite Sri Lanka cricketers who had made their mark in international cricket.

Among them are several legendary Sri Lanka cricketers including the world’s highest Test wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan, World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, ICC’s Chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle and ICC’s award-winning elite umpire Kumar Dharmasena.

During their recent interviews on the Mega Show, many past winners of the country’s first-ever school cricket awards show, which has now turned out to be the Mother of all Shows, have commended the role played by the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest.

The first ever recipient of the mega title - former Royal, NCC and Sri Lanka captain Ranjan Madugalle said that the Lake House and the Sunday Observer should be complemented for keeping the show going for all these years.

“Sponsors are essential to keep the show going. In the past, most of the winners of the top awards came from Colombo and its suburbs, but now the outstation schools have come to the fore in a big way and it is a positive sign for the game. May the show continue for many years to come,” said the ICC Chief Match Referee.

Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who had won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year twice in 1980 and 1982, said it is the dream of any schoolboy cricketer to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award. “It’s great to conduct the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest since 1979 to encourage the budding schoolboy cricketers. I was particularly happy to see the Northern Province joining with the others in the competitions at the contest,” he said.

“I am happy at the improvement of outstation cricket as the game has spread far and wide in the country.

Many Sri Lankan cricketing giants of the past and present are those who have either won the prestigious and coveted Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Award or won other awards at the contest,” Ranatunga added.

The former Nalanda captain tuned Sri Lanka cricketer Asanka Gurusinha, the winner of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 1985, had this to say: “When Roshan Mahanama won this award twice in 1983 and 1984, I felt how prestigious it is to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award. It is not an award that everybody could win. One has to perform exceptionally well and be consistent right throughout a season to win that – work really hard to reach the pinnacle of school cricket career.

“The Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year show has not only produced top cricketers but an international level umpire such as Kumar Dharmasena who serves in the ICC elite panel” Gurusinha said.

The architect of Sri Lanka’s World Cup 1996 victory Sanath Jayasuriya, who had won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year – Outstation title in 1988 said that it is hard to express that great feeling. “Not only me but also my parents, brother, relatives, coaches and school masters, they all enjoyed that cherished moment.

It was a great feeling. All past winners before me, be it the All-island or Outstation, had made their mark in Sri Lanka cricket. When I won the title, I felt that I was getting closer to earning a place in the national squad,” Jayasuriya said.

ICC Elite Panel umpire, Kumara Dharmasena, the winner of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 1989, said that it was one of the greatest moments in his career as a cricketer. “Winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title was a great inspiration. That helped and encouraged me to play for Sri Lanka. Winning such a mega award gives a huge image and confidence to a schoolboy cricketer to go places,” the former Sri Lanka all-rounder said.

Former Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu, who won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in the very next year after Dharmasena, said that he considers the mega title he won in 1990 as a ‘certification or a guarantee’ that he would play for Sri Lanka.

“When I had been performing well and scoring consistently for Ananda as a schoolboy cricketer, many considered me as a future Sri Lanka prospect. Although I too had felt that I had a chance, there was no guarantee. All those who had won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title before me had gone on to play for Sri Lanka with distinction. So when I won the title, I knew that I too could join that select band,” he said.

Former Ananada and Sri Lanka batsman Thilan Samaraweera who won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year twice in 1995 and 1996 paid a glowing tribute to the former captain and Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year twice in 1980 and 1982 Arjuna Ranatunga. “He used to be such a great example to me in my first years at the SSC. I mean it was this guy who was a huge personality in international cricket. Even for a club game, he gets there early. He plays the game with great intensity you wouldn’t believe,” he was quoted as saying.

The national mobile service provider, Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel continues to provide that ‘smart connection’ to the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest, which continues to enjoy the longstanding association of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA) and the Sri Lanka Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association.

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

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