Mother of All Shows | Sunday Observer

Mother of All Shows

18 April, 2021

There is no doubt that the Observer-Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel School Cricketer of the Year’ show conducted annually by the flagship English newspaper of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd is the most eagerly looked forward to award show awaited by the thousands of school cricketers annually.

Once the inter-school cricket season starts, it is the thing for the cricketers to give of their best in every department of the game, garner votes and catch the attention of the panel elected to choose winners of the many awards by performing in all aspects.

To be crowned the proud ‘School Cricketer of the Year’ is the yearning of every cricketer who will strive to the maximum and strain his every nerve and sinew to score runs, take wickets and grab catches.

This show conducted over the years with great success has the unstinted support of all present and old boys of the schools who flock in their numbers to cheer and motivate cricketers from their respective schools to give off their best and reach great heights so that they could win an award, be proud of it and treasure it for posterity.

This show has gone on to make champion cricketers from mediocre ones and given them the impetus to aim to represent the country which is the ultimate dream of every cricketer and many have been the award winners who sported the national cap and even went on to captain the country.

Every past winner has nothing but high praise for this excellent awards show and has been proud to talk about it and shower praise on the popular and much read ‘Sunday Observer’ for continuing the show, hurdling many obstacles placed on its way. Three of these prestigious winners who went on achieve stardom and bring pride to the leading newspaper, the game and country were Ranjan Madugalle, Arjuna Ranatunga and Sanath Jayasuriya who shone from the outstation.

The cheerful and ever smiling and ever obliging Madugalle who had his early education at Trinity College, Kandy, and then it was lottery that Royal College won when he was drawn to the prestigious Reid Avenue school.

He continued from junior level where his coaches were amazed with the rare talent this youngster was showing as a stylish and straight playing right hander and predicted a star in the making that was going to shine and glitter brightly in the local and international cricket firmament not only as a batsman but also a national captain. And those predications did not take long to materialize when he scored a lot of runs and his first crowning moment was when he led the school in the 100th ‘Battle of the Blues’ against S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia. He made Nondescripts Cricket Club his favourite and kept moving rapidly and his next crowning moment was when he led the country. But what he would cherish most was being appointed Chief of Match Referees in Test cricket. The International Cricket Conference which followed Madugalle’s career and the gentleman in him and his immense knowledge of the game preferred him as Chief Match Referee pushing aside many other international cricketers who batted for this post. Madugalle still continues to bat in that position because the ICC has the highest regard and respect for him.

The other award winner to shine in the international cricket scene was Ananda’s stylish left hander Arjuna Ranatunga who sported the national cap when he was still a schoolboy and the first to make a half century in the inaugural Test against England in 1982.

He later went to steer the country to win the ultimate prize in limited over cricket when Sri Lanka beat Australia in the World Cup final in Lahore, Pakistan in the 1996 tournament. In the same World Cup an outstation star from St. Servatius College, Matara to attain celebrity status was left handed batting sensation Sanath Teran Jayasuriya who clubbed all opposing bowlers to win the ‘Most Valuable Player of the Tournament. He was later tagged Sri Lanka’s ‘master blaster’ and like the world’s greatest boxer Muhammed Ali to be also tagged the ‘Black Superman of Cricket.’

Although the dreaded covid-19 played the part of spoil sport and stalled the holding of the ’Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year’ award ceremony last year, Editor-in-Chief of the leading weekly Dinesh Weerawansa along with the Chairman and the efficient Director Board of the ANCL and Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom and SLT Mobitel Rohan Fernando have worked tirelessly and left no stone unturned to make this long awaited show what it is today.