Sri Lanka youth well showcased in England | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka youth well showcased in England

4 September, 2022
Chintaka Jayasinghe, the first cricketer from Dharmapala College, Pannipitiya to become the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1997-Chintaka Jayasinghe
Chintaka Jayasinghe, the first cricketer from Dharmapala College, Pannipitiya to become the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1997-Chintaka Jayasinghe

The Sri Lanka Under-19 team, comprising the most outstanding schoolboy cricketers in the recently concluded 2021-2022 inter-school season, showed their class by winning their two-match Youth Test series against England Under-19 last week.

The Lankan lads began their tour of England by winning the first Under-19 Youth Test by three wickets in Chelmsford. They drew the second Youth Test taking major honors. Thus, Sri Lanka Under-19 beat England Under-19 one-nil in their two-Test Youth series with one drawn.

Sri Lanka Under-19 did well to score over 400 runs and 500 runs in their respective first innings of the two Youth Tests. That became the key to their dominance in the Youth Test series while their bowlers combined effectively by not allowing the home team to take an upper hand.

England Under-19, electing to bat first in the second Youth Test played in Derby, made 381 all out with opener Harry Singh (104 off 304 balls with six fours) and middle order batsman Matthew Hurst (116 off 189 balls with 11 fours) making centuries.

Sri Lanka Under-19 first innings of 542 all out was decorated by a marathon 155 off 237 balls with one six and 25 fours by one-drop bat Shevon Daniel. Joining Daniel in the Lankan run feast were skipper Raveen de Silva (74), Vinuja Ranpul (65), Pawan Pathiraja (55), number ten batsman Duvindu Ranatunga (54 off 58 balls) and opener Abisheak Liyanaarachichi (49).

Trailing by 161 runs in the first innings, England Under-19 were 249 for 5 at stumps in their second essay. Captain de Silva, who had 2 for 56 in the first innings, accounted for three of the five England Under-19 wickets to fall in the second innings, conceding 83 runs.

The first Youth one-dayer between the two Under-19 teams will be played in Worcester tomorrow (5). They will play two more matches in the three-match one-day youth series on September 8 (in Worcester) and 10 (in Leicester) before the Lankan team returns home.

Once the Sri Lanka Under-19 team returns home and the selection committee meets, the 44th Observer SLT Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year will be staged in Colombo, probably next month.

Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain and present Chairman of the National Sports Council, Arjuna Ranatunga would have become the first and the only player to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in three consecutive years if he had not missed the elusive title in 1981.

Ranatunga won the title in 1980 after Ranjan Madugalle won the title in the inaugural year. But in 1981, Rohan Buultjens won the crown before Ranatunga won the title back in 1982 for the second time. Similarly, Thilan Samaraweera too got a superb chance for a triple crown in 1996.

But Samaraweera was deprived of what would have been a record third win, something which none of the schoolboy cricketers has achieved so far.

After his memorable two successive crowns as Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1994 and 1995, Samaraweera ended Runner Up of the main title in 1996.

It was Nimesh Perera of St. Sebastian’s College, Moratuwa who won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1996.

Chintaka Jayasinghe, a formidable and positive all-rounder became the first cricketer from Dharmapala College, Pannipitiya to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1997.

Better known for his hard-hitting batting and penetrative medium pace bowling, Jayasinghe had the potential to break into the national one-day squad. But he was unfortunate not to get the deserving fair deal from selectors to go beyond Sri Lanka T20 and Sri Lanka ‘A’ level.

The greatest cricketing moment in his school career for Dharmapala was when he scored twin hundreds against Royal College, Colombo in 1995/96.

His name first appeared on the national scene when the selectors included him in the Sri Lanka Under-19 team that toured Malaysia and Singapore in 1994 and England in 1995.

Jayasinghe also played for the Sri Lankan ‘A’ team that toured India in 1998 and played against Zimbabwe ‘A’ in their 2000 tour of Sri Lanka. He played many match-winning roles for his club BRC.

After playing for Sri Lanka ‘A’ and five T20 matches for Sri Lanka, Jayasinghe retired from first-class cricket, citing frustration and his continued non-selection to the national team as a major setback at the age of 34 years.

He played in five T20 matches from December 2009 to May 2010, making the highest score of 38 from three innings in the lower-middle order. He played as a fast-bowling all-rounder for his domestic sides and has 104 wickets at 24.48, but did not bowl in Internationals.

Jayasinghe later played domestic cricket in Australia during the southern summer and also had another six-month contract to play in England. He was not among the 60 players offered an SLC contract in 2012 and said this was central to his decision to move on.

“I have played 14 years of first-class cricket in Sri Lanka and it’s saddening to see the SLC selectors favouring certain players who were proven failures,” Jayasinghe was quoted as saying on his retirement adding that he felt like Sri Lanka Cricket was not moving forward, especially after the seniors in the national team retired at that point.

Jayasinghe played for the Uva Next franchise in the Sri Lanka Premier League and last played first-class cricket for Bloomfield Cricket and Athletic Club having previously represented the Burgher Recreation Club and Nondescripts Cricket Club.

Meanwhile, the race for the Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year and Most Popular Schoolgirl Cricketer of the Year 2022 is moving at a rapid pace. With the last two weeks to go, there will be an interesting period ahead.

What excitement and enthusiasm is generated when the ‘Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year’ show draws near. The 44th mega show, the mother of all shows conducted by the ‘Sunday Observer’ and sponsored by SLT Mobitel will be held soon.

With a few more weeks to go for this long-awaited show, we continue to take a close look at past winners.

It was a memorable occasion for the Observer-SLT Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year which marked four decades of excellence.

It was a fitting tribute to have the first ever Observer Schoolboy Cricketer –Ranjan Madugalle, the ICC Chief Match Referee, as the chief guest four years ago.

Former Trinity College captain Hasitha Boyagoda was awarded the Observer Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2018 at the 40th Observer - Mobitel Schoolboy Cricket Awards show.

Boyagoda who snatched a world record in the Youth World Cup was awarded the National Schoolboy Cricketer for the Year 2018 while Kamindu Mendis was awarded the U19 Division I Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award. Maheesh Theekshana was the Best All-rounder in that year.

The principal sponsor of the show for the 15th successive year is SLT Mobitel which has taken the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year to a new level.

The Group Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom and Chairman of SLT Mobitel, Rohan Perera has extended his fullest support and cooperation to make the Mega Show the show of all shows.