A Show that never locks down | Sunday Observer

A Show that never locks down

FLASHBACK: Observer Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2019 Kamil Mishara of Royal College
FLASHBACK: Observer Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2019 Kamil Mishara of Royal College

Sri Lanka is one of the least effected countries to gradually begin to get back to normal life after the Covid-19 epidemic. As Sri Lanka attempts to begin its normal life from last Tuesday, especially after a 66-day continuous curfew in the Colombo and Gampaha districts, other activities such as sports would also be activated in the weeks to come.

With the two-month long lockdown period, sports, like all other activities, came to a complete standstill. But the majority of cricketers continued their physical training activities that kept them fit so that they would be on the ball whenever the green light is given by the controlling bodies.

It has been nearly three weeks after we recommenced the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year contests. It will gradually reach its peak.    

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest, ever since its inception way back in 1978-79, has produced many top class Sri Lanka cricketers who had made their mark in international cricket.

That includes several legendary Sri Lanka cricketers including the world’s highest Test wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan, World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga and the ICC’s Chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle.

Here are some  views expressed by the past winners in recent times on the country’s first-ever school cricket awards show which has now turned out to be the Mother of all Shows.

RANJAN MADUGALLE (Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1979):

“The Sunday Observer should be complimented for keeping the show going for all these years. Sponsors are essential to keep the show going. Most of the winners of the top awards came from Colombo and its suburbs in the past, but now, the outstation schools have come in a big way and it is a positive sign for the game. May the show continue for many years to come”

ARJUNA RANATUNGA (Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1980 and 1982):

“The dream of any schoolboy cricketer is to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award.

“It’s great to conduct the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest since 1979 and encourage the budding schoolboy cricketers.

“I was particularly happy to see the Northern Province joining with the others in the competitions.

I am happy at the improvement of outstation cricket as the game has spread far and wide in the country.

“Many Sri Lankan cricketing giants of the past and the present are those who have either won the prestigious and coveted Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Award or won other awards at the contest.”

ASANKA GURUSINHA (Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1985):

“When the then Nalanda schoolboy Roshan Mahanama won this award twice in 1983 and 1984 I was among the audience. I felt how prestigious it is to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award. It is not an award that everybody could win.

One has to perform exceptionally well and be consistent right throughout a season to win that – work really hard to reach the pinnacle of a school career.

The Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year show has not only produced top cricketers but one international level umpire such as Kumara Dharmasena who serves in the ICC elite panel.

SANATH JAYASURIYA (Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year – Outstation 1988):

“It is not easy to express that great feeling. Not only me but also my parents, brothers, relatives, coaches and school masters, they all enjoyed that cherished moment. It was a great feeling. All past winners before me, be it the All-island or Outstation, had made their mark in Sri Lanka cricket. So, when I won the title, I felt that I was getting closer to earning a place in the national squad.”

KUMARA DHARMASENA (Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1989):

“Undoubtedly it was one of the greatest moments in my career as a cricketer. Winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title was a big inspiration.

That helped and encouraged me to play for Sri Lanka. Winning such a mega award gives a huge image and confidence to a schoolboy cricketer to go places.

“We were determined to reach the top of the ladder and did so with dedication.”

MARVAN ATAPATTU (Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1990):

“I consider the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title I won in 1990 as a ‘certification or a guarantee’ that I would play for Sri Lanka. When I had been performing well and scoring constantly for Ananda as a schoolboy cricketer, many considered me as a future Sri Lanka prospect.

Although I too had felt that I had a chance, there was no guarantee. All those who had won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title before me had gone on to play for Sri Lanka with distinction. So, when I won the title, I knew that I too could join that select band.”

NAVEED NAWAZ (Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1993):

“It is an encouragement for schoolboy players who are hoping to represent the country at the highest level. Looking back, the contest has provided a good grounding as a good number of recipients have ended as national players.

When I won the award I felt as it was my greatest achievement. The winning of the title inspired me a lot and gave me a lot of confidence. I represented the Schools under 19 team which toured Singapore and Malaysia in the same year I won the coveted award.

“Although cricket-wise the tour was not the ideal one, we had top players who later represented the country at the highest level.”

NIROSHAN DICKWELLA (Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2012):

“It gives me great pleasure to note that the contest has lasted for nearly four decades. This has produced a bunch of some great cricketers in the All Island and Outstation competitions. Most of the recipients are doing well in their chosen professions may be cricket or otherwise. My best wishes for a successful run of the contest in future. Winning the award was a great encouragement for me.”

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