Going down memory lane | Sunday Observer

Going down memory lane

Ranjan Madugalle receives the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award from Edwin Tillekeratne, the Deputy Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Sports in 1979
Ranjan Madugalle receives the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award from Edwin Tillekeratne, the Deputy Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Sports in 1979

Dynamic Kamil Mishara became only the fourth Royalist to be crowned Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in the 41-year-old cherished history of Sri Lanka’s oldest school cricket awards competition.

Besides Ranjan Madugalle (1978-79), the former Royal, NCC and Sri Lanka captain turned present ICC Chief Match Referee, the other Royalists to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year main award are Test player Roshan Jurangpathy (1986) and Sri Lanka poolist Bhanuka Rajapakse (2010 and 2011). Nevertheless, the only Royalist to win the coveted title twice was Rajapakse.

Apart from Royal's four occasions of crowning glory, the only other school which had produced a greater number of Observer Schoolboy Cricketers of the Year main award winners are from Ananda.

Starting from the second ever to win the title after Madugalle in 1980, Arjuna Ranatunga, Ananda has produced seven Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year main award winners.

Besides Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Ranatunga who won twice in 1980 and 1982, the other Anandians to become Observer Schoolboy Cricketers of the Year are his brother and Sri Lanka player Sanjeewa Ranatunga (1988), former Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu (1990), Sri Lanka Test player Thilan Samaraweera (1994 and 1995), Sri Lanka player Muthumudalige Pushpakumara (1999), Malith Gunathillake (2007) and former Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal (2009).

Winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year is a once in a lifetime experience for any cricketer. How come that honour is experienced twice? Yes, there are only a selected lot who have been very fortunate to experience that honour of being champion of the champions.

In the four decade long proud history of Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, six cricketers, including the great Arjuna Ranatunga, have accomplished that feat.

Two Anandians and one each from Royal, Nalanda, St. Peter’s and Richmond have enjoyed that rare honour of winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year on two occasions each.

Ranatunga (1980 and 1982, Ananda), Roshan Mahanama (1983 and 1984, Nalanda), Thilan Samaraweera (1994 and 1995, Ananda), Lahiru Peiris (2004 and 2005, St. Peter’s), Bhanuka Rajapakse (2010 and 2011, Royal) and Charith Asalanka (2015 and 2016, Richmond) are the extraordinary schoolboy cricketers to win the Mega Award twice each in their cherished history of Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year.

Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Ranatunga was the first to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year coveted title twice in 1980 and 1982 while he finished Runner up to Rohan Buultjens in 1981. Besides Ranatunga, all the other five winners achieved their doubles in successive years.

The last of that list of champion of the champions list was Charith Asalanka of Richmond College, Galle who won the Observer-Mobitel Cricketer of the Year award in 2015 as well as in 2016.

What is more significant in Asalanka’s great feat was that he was the one and only schoolboy cricketer from Richmond to win the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in the 40-year-old history of the event.

The only brothers to win the Mega Award are Ranatunga brothers Arjuna and Sanjeewa. Arjuna won the main title in 1980 and 1982 and his younger brother Sanjeewa in 1988.

In the same year, Sanath Jayasuriya of St. Servatius College, Matara won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year outstation title.

The prestigious show has not only produced elite cricketers but subsequently top officials serving the ICC. Madugalle who took to Match Refereeing after his retirement now holds the senior most position in the ICC as its Chief Match Referee.

One of the proudest moments of the show was to see Muttiah Muralitharan becoming the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1991. Arguably the best spinner that the world has ever produced, Muralitharan has captured the most number of wickets in Test cricket - 800!

The Mega Show has also produced the best Sri Lankan captains the country has ever had including Captain Cool Ranatunga. The other Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year champions to become Sri Lanka captains are Roshan Mahanama (ODI only), Marvan Atapattu, Sanath Jayasuriya and Dinesh Chandimal.

Former Sri Lanka captain Roshan Mahanama (1983 and 1984 winner) also served as an ICC Match Referee. Observer Schoolboy Cricketer in 1989 Kumar Dharmasena who took to umpiring is now the most sought after ICC elite panel umpire.

He was on duty at the ICC World Cup final this year too after being adjudged the best ICC elite panel umpire at this year’s ICC awards.

Hence, the contribution made by Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in promoting and popularizing the game is immense.

Although a couple of schools cricket awards show have emerged of late and even copied our past winners as theirs to show artificial credibility, the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year will remain as the Mother of All Shows.

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