When a schoolboy trio shot to fame | Sunday Observer

When a schoolboy trio shot to fame

The Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year recommenced last week after the unexpected breakdown due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

Slowly but surely, the 42nd Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year contest is gathering momentum and it will reach its peak of the Most Popular contest when the schools are expected to reopen later next month.

There three main winners during the past decade or so who have excelled in the international arena are those who have won glory in the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest. The front runner of the trio is the 2009 Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year main award winner Dinesh Chandimal.

Apart from  Chandimal, two other Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketers of the Year main award winners - Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis, who won the top award in 2012 and 2013 respectively, have performed well representing the national team.

Chandimal won the prestigious Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 2009 when he was representing Ananda College, Colombo. Former captain of Trinity College, Kandy, Dickwella won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 2012. Ex-Cambrian skipper Mendis won the coveted title in 2013.

The 30-year old Chandimal has represented Sri Lanka in 146 ODIs to aggregate 3,599 runs with an average of 32.42. He has scored four ODI centuries and 22 fifties with a career-best knock of 111. Chandimal who went on to lead the national team, has so far represented Sri Lanka in 57 Tests to aggregate 3,877 runs inclusive of 11 centuries and 18 fifties to average 40.81.

Similar to most other past recipients of the prestigious title, Chandimal made his Sri Lanka debut just months after he was crowned the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 2009.

‘Chandi’, as he is popularly called, did not get an opportunity for a long innings - made an unbeaten 10 on his ODI debut for Sri Lanka against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo on June 1, 2010, as the visitors romped to a nine-wicket victory.

He is one of the most promising young batsmen who had stepped into the Sri Lanka team during the past decade. Chandimal is a technically sound batsman who is capable of hitting the ball to all corners of the ground with a wide range of strokes. Ever since his Sri Lanka debut, he has shown maturity at the crease with a good temperament to build and pace an innings.

Dickwella, one of the most successful Trinity College captains and a reliable top order batsman, came to the big league after winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title six years ago – having scored over 1,000 runs in his last season for the hill capital school.

Dickwella is an attacking left-handed wicket keeper-batsman, who turns 27 years later next month. He has been particularly impressive in limited-overs cricket, ever since he scored an explosive 104 off 91 balls in the final of the Inter-Provincial One-Day Tournament in 2013.

Only months after winning the main title at the Mega Show, Dickwella was called up to represent Sri Lanka ‘A’ on its tour of England in 2013. Since then, he has proved his class both as a top order batsman with safe hands behind the stumps.

After making his Sri Lanka ODI debut in 2014 against India in Ranchi, Dickwella has represented Sri Lanka in 52 ODIs to aggregate 1,571 runs with an average of 32.72. He has scored two centuries and nine fifties with a career best ODI innings of 116.

In Tests, Dickwella is has so far scored 1,921 in 37 outings with 15 half centuries and a top knock of 83 runs to average 30.98.

Meanwhile, Mendis, having played many match-winning innings for Prince of Wales College, Moratuwa, was adjudged the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 2013. He has shown good form with the willow.

Even before he had stepped into the national team, his aggressive batting had earned him a large following. As a dependable right-hand batsman with an attacking style and a safe wicket keeper, Mendis has often let his willow to do the talking.

His progress is also similar to other Observer Schoolboy Cricketers. Just months after winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title four years ago, he was appointed Sri Lanka’s under-19 captain for the Youth World Cup.

He made his Sri Lanka debut with a blistering half century – scoring 51 off 59 balls with eight boundaries in Sri Lanka’s first ODI against Ireland in Dublin. Since then, Mendis has figured in 76 ODIs for Sri Lanka to aggregate 2,167 runs at an average of 30.52. He has two centuries and 17 fifties to his credit with a career-best knock of 119.

He is just five runs away from reaching a great milestone of 3,000 runs in his Test career. In 44 Test appearances for Sri Lanka, Mendis has aggregated 2,995 runs (average 36.97) with seven centuries and 11 half tons.

SLT Mobitel, the national mobile service provider, continues to provide that ‘smart connection’ to the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest.

Under the directions of the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Telecom and SLT Mobitel, Rohan Fernando and the Chief Executive Officer of the SLT Mobitel Nalin Perera the duo have made a great contribution towards the success of the event during the past decade. The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year continues to enjoy the longstanding association with the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA) and the Sri Lanka Cricket Umpires Association with the blessings of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

After the humble beginnings at Nawarangahala way back in 1979, Sri Lanka’s premier school cricket awards show has come a long way to become the most sought after event in the school cricket calendar. The dream of every schoolboy cricketer has been to secure an award at the Mega Show. Exactly 40 years after its inauguration, it will become the dream of every schoolgirl cricketer as well to win an award.

Having produced some of the legendary Sri Lanka cricketers, the Mega Show would also became the launching pad for future Sri Lanka women cricket stars as well.

Meanwhile, voting for the most popular segments of the 40th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contests continues under three divisions. Voting for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contests could be made through voting coupons which continue to appear in the Daily News, Sunday Observer, Dinamina and Thinakaran.

All arrangements have been finalized to host the 42nd Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year mega awards ceremony shortly.

This will be the 13th consecutive year that SLT Mobitel will be sponsoring the Mega Show which has a rich history of producing legendary Sri Lanka cricketers.

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