Dream draws nearer for the big day | Sunday Observer

Dream draws nearer for the big day

Roshan Mahanama
Roshan Mahanama

The heat is on for the 42nd Observer-Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year as the Mega Show’s selection meeting is expected to be held by the end of next month.

The Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA), the Umpires Association, along with the organizers, the Sunday Observer and the sponsors Sri Lanka Mobitel will meet next month to decide the winner of the grand prize winners and the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year award winners.

The statistical data provider of the event is the popular cricket website batsman.lk which is playing a notable role under its CEO Kumara Gamhewage.

Going down memory lane of the 42-year-old grand contest, another popular Sri Lanka cricket star who emerged through the Mega Show is former Nalanda College captain Roshan Mahanama, who won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the year title after Ranjan Madugalle (Royal-1979), Arjuna Ranatunga (Ananda - 1980 and 1982) and Rohan Buultjens (St.Peter’s College). Mahanama won the mega title twice in 1983 and 1984 to become the first schoolboy to win the glittering prize in successive years as Ranatunga was only the runner up in 1981.

Apart from Ranatunga and Roshan Mahanama, the others to win the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title twice were Thilan Samaraweera (1994 and 1995), Lahiru Peiris (2004 and 2005), Bhanuka Rajapakse (2010 and 2011) and Charith Asalanka (2015 and 2016).

One such star who made his presence felt from school level to the international arena, is former Sri Lanka captain and ex-ICC Match Referee Roshan Mahanama. Having made his mark from his days at Nalanda, he is a classic example to all as a gentleman cricketer.

Mahanama believes that there should be a balance in the number of matches a school team has to play during a season if the quality of the game is to be maintained. “There is no doubt we need to give opportunities to outstation teams. But we have to do that without degrading the quality,” Mahanama said in a recent interview.

The Ex-Nalanda College captain speaking further said that the country’s first and the Premier school cricket award - Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, has always motivated schoolboy cricketers as they look forward to be rewarded and recognized at the end of each season, for their hard work.

“These events motivated us as emerging cricketers. It is always a great motivation when you know that your achievements are being recognized,” he said.

Mahanama feels that his crowning glory as the ‘Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year’ in successive years (1983 and 1984), was a decisive milestone in his career.

“It was a great encouragement to be adjudged the best schoolboy cricketer and be honored for the hard work during the season. I had the privilege of basking in that glory as it was one of my teenage dreams,” he said.

“The Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year came my way in successive years and that was a memorable one, showing me the stepping stone to playing for Sri Lanka. Being crowned the best Schoolboy Cricketer made me even more determined to work harder to reach greater heights when I first got the taste of international cricket,” he said.

“I had watched former Nalandian Bandula Warnapura in action. We had full houses for all those inter-school games and it was a passion. The school authorities too encouraged the boys to watch matches,” he added.

Mahanama said that schoolboy cricketers should be willing to make sacrifices and show their commitment, instead of looking for short cuts to success. “Young schoolboy cricketers must have a genuine willingness and desire to work towards their targets with dedication. Remember, there are no short cuts for success”, said Mahanama.

“In my playing days, there were not much of opportunities for Under-19 cricketers. I had played for Nalanda First X1 for five seasons but we had only two overseas tours. But the present day players get more and more opportunities. I wonder whether the players are making full use of these tours,” he asked.

He urged schoolboy cricketers to work hard to achieve their targets in a disciplined manner, maintaining the high traditions of the game - instead of being ‘remote-controlled’.

He paid a glowing tribute to his late father Upali Mahanama who had been a tower of strength behind his success story. “He was a great source of encouragement and inspiration to me. He stressed the importance of adding values and discipline to our lives. Then, I was lucky to come under the watchful eyes of Lionel Sir (Lionel Mendis)”.

Meanwhile, the battles for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year 2020 have reached an interesting stage.

Former table leader Anuda Jayaweera of Ananda, who was in the third place, has once again stormed to the front in the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2020. He replaces Lohan de Soyza of Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda who was in the lead last week. De Soysa now takes second place.

Shehan Fernando of St. Benedict’s College now moves to third position.

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, provided the ideal financial support for the oldest Cricket Awards Show in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s premier 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 traditional First X1 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 wholehearted support to keep the contest moving.

Its Chairman and CEO W. Dayaratne, President’s Counsel, together with the Director Editorial Dharma Sri Kariyawasam, Director Legal and Administration Rakhitha Abeygunawardhana, Director Finance Janaka Ranatunga and Director Operations Canishka Witharana are helping this show to go from strength to strength.

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