Blast from the past inspires another Show | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Blast from the past inspires another Show

Flashback: Kamil Mishara of Royal College Colombo who was adjudged the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer 2019 receiving his Award from chief guest the legendary batsman Aravinda de Silva flanked by SLT-Mobitel Chairman Kumarasinghe Sirisena. In the girls segment Umesha Themeshani of Devapathiraja College Ratgama was the first Observer-Mobitel Schoolgirl Cricketer
Flashback: Kamil Mishara of Royal College Colombo who was adjudged the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer 2019 receiving his Award from chief guest the legendary batsman Aravinda de Silva flanked by SLT-Mobitel Chairman Kumarasinghe Sirisena. In the girls segment Umesha Themeshani of Devapathiraja College Ratgama was the first Observer-Mobitel Schoolgirl Cricketer

Sri Lanka’s oldest and Premier school cricket awards show – the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer contest, will be on the pitch for the 42nd year along with the newly introduced Schoolgirl Cricketer of the Year 2020 for the third year.

Ever since the beginning of this contest, there has been a tremendous interest in all corners of the country, making this the Mother-of-All-Shows, and inspired by the initiative given by the Sunday Observer there has been a couple of similar events that emerged.

We are extremely happy to see more school cricket awards coming up to reward schoolboy cricketers. After all, it is the country’s budding schoolboy cricketers who will be rewarded at the end after a strenuous season.

This prestigious event, started way back in 1978/79 and is organized by the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL) and sponsored by the country’s national mobile service provider Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel.

Winning a title at the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer has been the cherished dream of every schoolboy cricketer for over four decades. It all began in 1978/79 when the then captain of Royal College, Colombo Ranjan Madugalle was chosen the first ever Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year.

It eventually became a highly successful beginning for Sri Lanka’s first ever school cricket awards show but also gave birth to a new generation of cricketers who took Sri Lanka cricket to new horizons.

Madugalle, who captained his Alma mater at the centenary Royal-Thomian cricket encounter in 1979, had a wonderful time since then. He was immediately picked to the Sri Lanka team for the World Cup in the same year 1979 and went on to captain his club NCC and Sri Lanka with distinction.

Starting from Madugalle in 1978/79, the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer has produced a galaxy of stars who have marked Sri Lanka’s position prominently on the world cricketing map. Among them are Arjuna Ranatunga, Roshan Mahanama, Asanka Gurusinha, Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralitharan, Mavan Atapattu and Kumar Dharmasena to name a few.

Madugalle who celebrated his 60th birthday on April 22 last year, has represented Sri Lanka in 21 Tests, scoring 1,029 runs which includes a brilliant 103 and seven half centuries. In 63 ODIs, he had aggregated 950 runs with three half centuries.

The stylish former Royal College captain was a member of the Sri Lanka team to play in the country’s first ever Test team. In fact, Madugalle (65) and another Observer Schoolboy Cricketer Arjuna Ranatunga (54) were the first Sri Lankans to score half centuries in Test cricket, in the historic match against England played at the Saravanamuttu Stadium in February 1982.

Having captained Sri Lanka, Madugalle now plays the role of the all-important ICC Chief Match Referee.

Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Ranatunga was the first player to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award on two occasions. After Madugalle’s initial year, Ranatunga won it in 1980. The left-handed middle order batsman from Ananda College was the runner up to Rohan Buultjens of St. Peter’s College in 1981 before once again winning the title in 1982. Ranatunga’s final year in school cricket was a glorious one as he was able to make it to Sri Lanka’s inaugural Test team that played against England.

Although Ranatunga won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year titles in 1980 and 1982, Nalanda College’s Roshan Mahanama was the first to win the prestigious title in successive years in 1983 and 1984. He first won the ‘Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year’ title in 1983 with a rich harvest of runs with the willow.

He continued to let his willow to do the talking in the following year too and his superb form won him the title for the second successive year in 1984.

Apart from Ranatunga and Mahanama, the others to win the grand title twice were Thilan Samaraweera (1994 and 1995), Lahiru Peiris (2004 and 2005), Bhanuka Rajapakse (2010 and 2011) and Charith Asalanka (2015 and 2016).

The Sunday Observer’s great partnership with SLT Mobitel has grown from strength to strength due to the untiring efforts of its CEO Nalin Perera.

The entry of Mobitel 13 years ago to provide financial support to the oldest Cricket Awards Show in Sri Lanka has undoubtedly lifted the standard of the contest after its humble beginnings way back in 1978/79. Since then, it has come a long way to set new standards and inspiring other media organizations to have similar contests.

Sri Lanka’s flagship English newspaper - the Sunday Observer, understood the need to recognize the raw talent of the country’s schoolboy cricketers at a time when there had been no organized inter-school cricket tournaments, apart from the traditional first XI matches of the so-called leading schools.

But the introduction of the Show and its expansion to have a separate segment for outstation schoolboy cricketers went a long way in inspiring the talented players in far flung areas.

Voting coupons for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year are being published in the Lake House national newspapers – Sunday Observer, Daily News, Dinamina, Silumina and Thinakaran.

But Sunday Observer readers will have an advantage when voting through the coupon as it will provide them with three votes whereas voting through other sister papers will carry only one vote each.

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