Who will be the champ of champions? | Sunday Observer

Who will be the champ of champions?

16 August, 2020
Ranatunga family - (from left) son Dhyan, daughter-in-law Denushka, wife Samadara, Arjuna and daughter Thiyangie
Ranatunga family - (from left) son Dhyan, daughter-in-law Denushka, wife Samadara, Arjuna and daughter Thiyangie

The good news for schoolboy cricketers and cricket fans is that the eagerly awaited selections of the 42nd Observer-Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year has been pencilled to be held before mid next month.

The organisors, the Sunday Observer and the sponsors Sri Lanka Mobitel will soon decide the venue and other details at the grand selection committee meeting attended by the officials of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA) and the umpires association together with statistical date provider batsman.lk which is playing a big role under its CEO Kumara Gamhewage.

With the worldwide Covid-19 epidemic interrupting the last few matches of the 2019/2020 Under-19 inter-school league including a couple of outstation big matches, it is unlikely to name the overall champion teams although the provincial champion teams would be named.

However, all glamour events will comprise the mega awards show including the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year 2020. This is apart from the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year 2020 which is likely to be found after the final stages of the ongoing voting.

The battles for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year 2020 have become keen tussles for supremacy.

The Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2020 has a new leader this week as the top six slots are being fought out keenly. Lohan de Soyza of Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda has regained the top place once again displacing last week’s leader Anuda Jayaweera of Ananda to the third place,

Jayaweera who entered the fray halfway through has shown steady progress and has been a big threat. However, he goes down to number three from No.1 position he held last year.

Shehan Fernando of St. Benedict’s College remains in the second spot. Though Soysa, Fernando and Jayaweera occupy the first three places in the latest rounds, they are given a stiff competition by Sukitha Manoj of St. Sebastian’s College and Royalists Thevindu Seneviratne and Ahan Wickramasinghe. This gives a clear indication that anything could happen in the weeks to come.

After the initiative given by Sri Lanka’s flagship national newspaper - the Sunday Observer, the Mega Show has gone from strength to strength for over four decades producing many world beaters. Although there have been a couple of similar events that emerged subsequently, the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer has remained the Mega Show.

Nevertheless, we as the creator of the novel concept some 42 years ago are delighted to see more school cricket awards taking place 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.

The concept of rewarding schoolboy cricketers at the end of each season was introduced to Sri Lanka by Lake House and it started the prestigious event in 1978/79. Organized by the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL), the event is sponsored by the country’s national mobile service provider Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel for the 13th successive year.

As two-time winner and Sri Lanka’s World Cup wining captain Arajuna Ranatunga always emphasized his gratitude saying that, the winning of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year is the biggest thing that could happen in a school cricketer’s life, changing one’s future drastically.

Ranatunga was the second to kiss the glittering Observer Schoolboy Cricketer trophy after Royalist Ranjan Madugalle did so in the inaugural year 1978-79.

Madugalle, Ranatunga, Roshan Mahanama, Asanka Gurusinha, Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralidaran, Marvan Atapattu and Kumara Dharmasena are some of the top men who had contributed immensely to Sri Lanka cricket to take it beyond our shores.

Ranatunga also had the distinction of winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer award twice in 1980 and 1982, finishing runner up in 1981.

In fact, Ranatunga (54 runs), still a schoolboy at Ananda, scored the first half century for Sri Lanka in Test cricket in the historic match against England played at the Saravanamuttu Stadium in February 1982.

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.

Born on December 1, 1963, former Cabinet Minister Arjuna Ranatunga comes from a sporting family in Gampaha. All six Ranatunga brothers, Arjuna, Prasanna (current Cabinet Minister and ex-Western Province Chief Minister), Nishantha (former Sri Lanka Cricket Secretary and ODI player), Sanjeewa (former Sri Lanka Test and ODI player), Dhammika (also former Sri Lanka Test and ODI player) and Ruwan (former Member of Parliament and Ananda junior cricketer) all played for Ananda with distinction.

The Sunday Observer’s great sporting partnership with SLT Mobitel has grown from strength to strength due to the untiring efforts of its CEO Nalin Perera. Great sports promoter Mobitel who are sponsoring it for the 13th year made the ideal financial support for the oldest Cricket Awards Show in Sri Lanka.

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.

With the introduction of the Show and its expansion to have a separate segment for outstation schoolboy cricketers, it went a long way in inspiring the talented players from remote areas.

The ANCL management has always given its biggest helping hand to keep the Mega Show alive. Current Chairman and President’s Counsel W. Dayaratne, together with Director Editorial Dharma Sri Kariyawasam, Director Legal and Administration Rakhitha Abeygunawardhana, Director Finance Janaka Ranatunga and Director Operations Canishka Witharana have helped this show to go from strength to strength.