World Cup 1996 over-flowed with winners | Sunday Observer

World Cup 1996 over-flowed with winners

Kumar Sangakkara became the best batsman in 1996
Kumar Sangakkara became the best batsman in 1996


The organizers of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year have finalized the grand selection panel meeting for 2020 to be held within the next fortnight in Colombo.

It will be held under the patronage of the top officials of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA) and the Umpires Association. The SLSCA delegation will be led by its energetic President Thilak Waththuhewa, Principal of Nalanda.

No sooner the selections are done, arrangements will be made to conduct the 42nd Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year 2020 Mega Show.

When going down the glorious history of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, both top awards in 1996 went to schools outside the Colombo city.

It was also encouraging to note the re-entry of Trinity College and St. Benedict’s College among the winners since 1996. Trinity’s Kumar Sangakkara was picked as the best batsman while Benedictine Pradeep Hewage was picked as the best fielder in the All-Island Contest. While their illustrious product Sangakkara carried away the batting honours, the Trinity team was picked as the best from the Central Province.

Since winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer event as the best batsman, Sangakkara made his Test and ODI debut in 2000 and cemented his place. He went on to represent Sri Lanka for 15 long years. In the meantime, he led the Sri Lanka team with distinction.

In that same year 1996, Nimesh Perera of St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa was unanimously picked as Observer-Bata Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year while Sri Piyaratne Maha Vidyalaya, Padukka captain Chandana Samarasinghe won the Outstation Schoolboy cricketer of the Year. The panel of umpires which formed the selection committee comprised the three umpiring associations - Association of Cricket Umpires (Sri Lanka), Central Province Cricket Umpires Association and Southern Province Cricket Umpires Association.

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year has been the only contest that has had a run without a break for 42 years. These contests have inspired and encouraged the cricketers to better deeds and also gain entry to the national team since its inception in 1978/79.

In 1996 the world champion producing year, 10 out of 16 members in the squad had been past winners. Arjuna Ranatunga won the top award twice, Roshan Mahanama on two successive years, Asanka Gurusinha once, Aravinda de Silva was runner-up to Mahanama in 1984, Marvan Atapattu, Muttiah Muralidaran and Kumara Dharmasena.

In addition, Aravinda de Silva, Hashan Tillekeratne and Romesh Kaluwitharana have won several other titles. Sanath Jayasuriya from St. Servatius College, Matara won the Outstation Schoolboy cricketer of the Year Award in 1988.

Besides winning the top title, Nimesh Perera had a haul of over 100 wickets for the second successive year and also won the awards for the best bowler and was runner-up in the best all-rounder category. Nimesh had a collection of 134 wickets for 1,605 runs which gave him an attractive average of 11.97 a piece. He also batted brilliantly to collect 764 runs from 26 innings with two not-outs to have an average of 31.83 runs per innings.

In 1995, Nimesh Perera was runner-up in the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award to Thilan Samaraweera of Ananda who won the title for the second successive year. The result was reversed in 1996 with Perera being picked as the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year and Thilan Samaraweera the runner-up.

If not, Samaraweera would have won the main title for the third time in 1996. Samaraweera, however, kept the title of best all-rounder which and Nimesh was runner-up.

Sri Piyaratne skipper Chandana Samarasinghe’s elevation as Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year was almost a dream come true. In 1995, Sri Piyaratne Maha Vidyalaya in Padukka were picked as the best up-and-coming team and the school produced the Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year.

Apart from winning the coveted Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Award, Samarasinghe was also picked as the best all-rounder in 1996.

He had an aggregate of 1,192 runs from 27 innings with two not-outs to have an average of 47.92 per innings while in bowling he bagged 105 wickets giving away 1,469 runs for an average of 13.98 per wicket. He also captained Sri Piyaratne to 11 wins from 18 matches while five matches were drawn and two lost.

Two cricketers who toured England with the Sri Lanka under-15 team for the Junior World Cup in England also figured among the award winners. St. Anthony’s Wattala wicket-keeper J. Sivanesharaja who distinguished himself well in England was picked as the runner-up in the best fielder’s award in the Outstation Section while Lumbini Maha Vidyalaya’s Ranil Dhammika was picked for the merit award in 1996.

Dhammika, while still being under-15, took 99 wickets that season conceding 896 runs for an average of 9.05 runs per wicket.

The statistical data provider for the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year 2020 is the popular cricket website batsman.lk which is playing a big role in this contest under its CEO Kumara Gamhewage.

Unlike previous years, the overall champion team will not be named this time as the official final leg matches were not played owing to the Covid 19 interruption, although the provincial champion teams would be named. Owing to the worldwide Covid-19 epidemic the last few matches of the 2019/2020 Under-19 inter-school league including a couple of outstation big matches were not played.

However, the glamour events will comprise the mega awards show including the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year 2020.

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

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.

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