Who will be the winner this time? | Sunday Observer

Who will be the winner this time?

Flashback: Last year’s winner Hasitha Boyagoda of Trinity College receiving the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year trophy from chief guest and winner of the inaugural event 40 years ago, Ranjan Madugalle, in the presence of  SLSCA and Lake House officials including Sunday Observer editor Dharisha Bastians
Flashback: Last year’s winner Hasitha Boyagoda of Trinity College receiving the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year trophy from chief guest and winner of the inaugural event 40 years ago, Ranjan Madugalle, in the presence of SLSCA and Lake House officials including Sunday Observer editor Dharisha Bastians

The much looked forward to event in Sri Lanka’s schools sports calendar – the latest segment of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2019, will be held at the Grand Ballroom of the Colombo Hilton on Friday (20) commencing 5.30 p.m.

Every year, thousands of schoolboy cricketers and their supporters eagerly look forward to this event. This event has been the talking point among schools, big and small, across all corners of the country for over four decades.

Hence, the 41st Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year is bound to be a resounding success, maintaining the high traditions for over four decades.

Hence, come Friday it will be a memorable day for the country’s outstanding schoolboy cricketers who have performed exceptionally well during the 2018/19 inter-school first X1 season.

Interestingly, such performers during the 1978/ 1979 season who became winners of the very first Mega Show have climbed many steps from Sri Lanka captain to ICC Chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle who was the Chief Guest at the 40th show last year.

The Chief Guest for this year’s show will be another stalwart of Sri Lanka Cricket. He also played a match-winning role in Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup triumph with a century in the final against Australia played in Lahore on March 17. He is none other than Aravinda de Silva, a household name in Sri Lanka’s cricketing history.

Many leading Sri Lanka cricketers have commended the feats of the Sunday Observer in recognizing top schoolboy cricketers since 1978/79 in which Madugalle became the first ever recipient of the prestigious award.

Following Madugalle to the Observer Cricketer of the Year was Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Anjuna Ranatunga in 1980. After being the runner up to Rohan Buultjens in 1981, Ranatunga once again became the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1982, while still a schoolboy and representing Sri Lanka in their inaugural Test against England in February, 1982.

Ranatunga (54) and Madugalle (65) scored maiden Test fifties in that historic match. Ranatunga scored the first ever Test half century for Sri Lanka and a few minutes later, Madugalle achieved that feat.

Besides Madugalle and Ranatunga, this Mega Show has produced several other celebrated Sri Lanka cricketers whose stepping stone has been the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest. Among them are Sri Lanka captain turned ex-ICC Match Referee Roshan Mahanama (twice in 1983 and 1984), Sri Lanka World Cup star and ex-Sri Lanka manager Asanka Gurusinha (1985), former Sri Lanka cricketer Roshan Jurangpathy (1986), ex-Sri Lanka opener Sanjeewa Ranatunga (1988), World Cup star who is the ICC’s best elite panel umpire Kumara Dharmasena (1989), former Sri Lanka captain turned Ex-Sri Lanka coach Marvan Atapattu (1990) and world record holder for most Test wickets Muttiah Muralitharan (1991) to name a few.

Former Sri Lanka captain and ex-chairman of selectors Sanath Jayasuriya won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer outstation title for St. Servatius College, Matara in 1988.

Among the other winners of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer titles who represented Sri Lanka are Thilan Samaraweera (1994 and 1995), Muthumudalige Pushpakumara (1999), Kaushalya Weeraratne (2000), Kaushal Lokuarachchi (2001), Ferveez Maharoof (2003) and Bhanuka Rajapakse (2010 and 2011). Among the recent most successful winners still in the Sri Lanka squad are former captain Dinesh Chandimal (2009), Niroshan Dickwella (2012) and Kusal Mendis (2013).

Winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer title has been the dream of every player but the feeling of winning that glorious title is an exemplary feat. Such champion of the champions to win the unique title twice are Arjuna Ranatunga (1980 and 1982), Roshan Mahanama (1983 and 1984), Thilan Samaraweera (1994 and 1995), Lahiru Peiris (2004 and 2005), Bhanuka Rajapakse (2010 and 2011) and Charith Asalanka (2015 and 2016).

“Winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer award twice remains the most cherished moment in my life,” says Ranatunga. He further added that the titles had given him “tremendous inspiration and confidence,” when he had stepped into the international arena.

When considering all that, it is obvious that the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year is not merely the country’s first awards show in school cricket but has the honour of producing many firsts in different cricketing spheres.

This will be the 12th consecutive year that Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel will be sponsoring the Mega Show, the country’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 a Sri Lanka ‘cap’.

Most past winners of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title had made their Sri Lanka debut in double quick time. SLT Mobitel has played a praiseworthy role in the promotion of the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year.

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 that extra mile.

At the last Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer event as the chief guest, Madugalle lavishly praised the Sunday Observer and SLT Mobitel for their roles as organizer and sponsor of the great event.

“No event can be completed or done successfully without the organizational capacity and sponsorship package. I like to thank Lake House for conducting this ceremony which is getting better and bigger every year.

It is marked in the school calendar as cricket’s event of the year. A big thank you to Mobitel for providing the sponsorship without whose generous resources this kind of event cannot be held,” he said.

“On behalf of the cricketing fraternity may I thank the organizers and the sponsors for the wonderful work they have done over the years. Mobitel as well as Sunday Observer and the ANCL have done great work once again for being innovators trying to make this awards ceremony bigger, better and more relevant than ever before. It’s a job well done.” Madugalle added. 

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