Editorial | Sunday Observer


It was a night to remember and savor with one of the legends of Sri Lankan cricket, Aravinda de Silva, rewarding tomorrow’s star at the 41st edition of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2019 at the Grand Ballroom of Hilton Colombo, last weekend.

From humble beginnings at Nawarangahala in 1978/79 to the posh Grand Ballroom of the Hilton Colombo, the contest has gone from strength to strength via BMICH and Galadari Hotel. Year by year, the show has improved in every aspect to become the best in rewarding the champion of champions from schools.

Even with the initial sponsor Haliborange to Bata Shoe Company and current sponsor SLT Mobitel, the quality and standards of the contest has improved every year since Sri Lanka’s first school cricket awards show.

It has become the showpiece of Sri Lanka school cricket that has given birth to legendary cricketers from world champions to Asia Cup winners, man of the series winners at ICC World Cup tournaments, highest wicket taker in Test cricket, Chief ICC Match Referee and the best umpire in the ICC elite panel. In addition, the Mega Show has produced several other Sri Lankan captains, a record number of double centurions in Tests, most number of players in a world champion team, and the list goes on.

There was a packed house at the Hilton Grand Ballroom to enjoy the glamour and enthusiasm of the Mother of all Shows, producing hundreds of top cricketers as a feeding centre for the Sri Lanka national team.

The presence of former Sri Lanka captain Aravinda de Silva as the chief guest added more colour to the event with his charming wife Anushka. The established energetic couple of comperes Clifford Richards and Sonali Perera were able to keep the show glittering and going with their expertise.

Most importantly, the sponsor of the show SLT Mobitel once again played an important role for the 12th consecutive year, enabling the Sunday Observer and its publisher Lake House to stage yet another successful show. Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom and SLT Mobitel Kumarasinghe Sirisena and CEO of SLT Mobitel Nalin Perera have always played leading roles in making this show a resounding success. Lake House Chairman Krishantha Cooray too has contributed towards the success with his expertise and innovative ideas.

Kamil Mishara of Royal College, Colombo was adjudged the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer 2019 while Umesha Themeshani of Devapathiraja College, Rathgama was named as the first Observer-Mobitel Schoolgirl Cricketer 2019 at the glamorous night which had plenty of entertainment including star performer Lahiru Perera of Rambari fame.

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year has remained the most sought after and looked forward to event in local schools calendar and there is a general belief that winning this award would inspire the winners to have a tilt at making it to the Sri Lanka national team in double quick time.

There are plenty of genuine reasons to have such a common belief as from the very first winner Ranjan Madugalle, the Observer Schoolboy Cricketers have produced many individuals who have gone on to represent the country.

For example, Sri Lanka’s first Test half centurion Arjuna Ranatunga made it to the Sri Lanka team as a schoolboy.

Madugalle who scored the second fifty ever in Tests, also in the inaugural match against England in February 1982, made another first. Madugalle, still being a schoolboy in his final year at Royal College, made it to Sri Lanka’s ICC World Cup team in 1979 in the pre-Test era.

Even Sri Lanka’s world champion team in 1996, which beat Australia by seven wickets in the final at Lahore, had no less than seven players, including the captain Ranatunga, who had won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award. Even when it came to captaincy, six top former Sri Lanka captains produced have been winners at the Observer Cricketer of the Year show.

This year’s selections were made by a special panel headed by Sri Lanka Under-19 head coach and former Sri Lanka captain Hashan Tillekaratne. He was backed by the ex-co of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA) and members of the umpires association. Hence, we had the blessings of Sri Lanka Cricket and SLSCA as well as umpires.

These are some of the memorable happenings among many that would tell how the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest has been associated with Sri Lankan cricket history. The event has been the feeder pool for the national team, providing an ideal opportunity for the next generation of cricketers once they graduate from the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year ‘cricketing university’.