Five ex-Schoolboy Cricketers of the Year in action at T20 World Cup | Sunday Observer

Five ex-Schoolboy Cricketers of the Year in action at T20 World Cup

9 October, 2022
ICC Chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle (left) and ICC Elite Panel Umpire Kumara Dharmasena are playing roles as ICC officials at the T20 World Cup
ICC Chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle (left) and ICC Elite Panel Umpire Kumara Dharmasena are playing roles as ICC officials at the T20 World Cup

Five former Observer SLT Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketers of the Year will be seen in action during the forthcoming T20 World Cup tournament which starts in Australia next week.

Out of the five Sri Lankans in action, three will be playing for the national T20 team while the other two will be on duty as ICC officials.

Bhanuka Rajapakse (2010 and 2011 winner), Kusal Mendis (2013 winner) and Charith Asalanka (2016 and 2016 winner) will be the Sri Lanka T20 players in action while the other two award-winning ICC officials will be the chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle (1979 winner) and ICC Elite Panel umpire Kumara Dharmasena (1989 winner).

Besides Madugalle, the other ICC Match Referees in the panel are former Zimbabwe player Andrew Pycroft, ex-England star Christopher Broad and ex-Australian top order bat David Boon, a veteran of 107 Tests and 181 ODIs.

Apart from Sri Lankan Dharmasena, the other in the ICC Elite Umpires panel for the 2022 T20 World Cup are Adrian Holdstock, Aleem Dar, Ahsan Raza, Christopher Brown, Christopher Gaffaney, Joel Wilson, Langton Rusere, Marais Erasmus, Michael Gough, Nitin Menon, Paul Reiffel, Paul Wilson, Richard Illingworth, Richard Kettleborough and Rodney Tucker.

The ICC announced 20 match officials for the First Round and Super 12s stage of the tournament.

“In total, 16 umpires will officiate across the tournament with Richard Kettleborough, Nitin Menon, Kumara Dharmasena and Marais Erasmus having been the umpires in charge of the 2021 final which saw this year’s hosts claim their first ICC Men’s T20 World Cup title,” the ICC said in a statement. “It is an experienced group of umpires, with the same 16 selected as last year’s tournament which was held in the United Arab Emirates and Oman.”

Chief Referee of the ICC Elite Panel of Match Referees, Ranjan Madugalle, is part of a quartet of former international cricketers who make up the match referees for the eighth edition of the T20 World Cup.

Pycroft will take charge of the tournament opener in Geelong on October 16 when Sri Lanka takes on Namibia in the first round with Joel Wilson and Rodney Tucker the umpires in the middle. Paul Reiffel will act as the TV umpire with Erasmus, occupying the role of the fourth umpire.

Erasmus, Tucker and Aleem Dar are all set to appear in their seventh ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, with Langton Rusere umpiring in his second World Cup of the year having stood in the 2022 Women’s ODI World Cup, including acting as reserve umpire for the final.

“Officials have been named for the entirety of the First Round and Super 12s, with the selections for the semi-finals and final of the tournament to be named in due course,” the ICC added.

Madugalle, the first-ever winner of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1979, has officiated in 207 Test matches, 377 ODIS and 128 T20 Internationals as ICC Match Referee.

Madugalle, who led Royal in the centenary Battle of the Blues cricket encounter in 1979, was immediately picked to the Sri Lanka team for the World Cup in the same year and went on to captain his club NCC and Sri Lanka with distinction.

ICC Chief Match Referee Madugalle who celebrated his 62nd birthday last April 22, has represented Sri Lanka in 21 Tests, scoring 1,029 runs which includes a brilliant 103 and seven half centuries. In 63 ODIs, he had aggregated 950 runs with three half centuries.

Madugalle (65) and another Observer Schoolboy Cricketer Arjuna Ranatunga (54) were the first Sri Lankans to score half centuries 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. Ranatunga won it in 1980 and in 1982 while Peterite Rohan Buultjens, who won the glamour award in 1981, prevented Ranatunga going for a hat-trick of wins.

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.

But Nalanda’s Roshan Mahanama was the first to win the prestigious title in successive years - in 1983 and 1984. Apart from Ranatunga and Mahanama, the others to win the grand title twice were Thilan Samaraweera (1994 and 1995), Lahiru Peiris (2004 and 2005), Bhanuka Rajapakse (2010 and 2011), Charith Asalanka (2015 and 2016) and Navod Paranavithana (Mahinda– 2020 and 2021).

Dharmasena, who was a member of Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup winning team under another Observer Schoolboy Cricketer Arjuna Ranatunga, has reached many great milestones in his distinguished career as an international umpire.

The 51-year-old ex-Sri Lanka all-rounder will be on duty as an elite panel international umpire in the T20 World Cup in Australia and has now officiated in 93 Tests, 179 ODIs and 52 T20 internationals.

Having made his international debut as an umpire in 2009, officiating in an ODI between India and Sri Lanka at Dambulla, Dharmasena became the youngest ever Sri Lankan to umpire in any form of international cricket.

He umpired at the 2011 ICC World Cup and in the same year, he had the honour of being appointed to the ICC’s Elite Panel of Umpires. But the greatest achievement in his career as an international umpire was witnessed in 2012 when he was adjudged the ICC’s Umpire of the Year to receive the David Shepherd Trophy.

Dharmasena became the first person to play and umpire in an ICC World Cup final when he officiated in the 2015 ICC World Cup tournament final. As a player, Dharmasena played a notable role in Sri Lanka’s World Cup victory in 1996.

Dharmasena said that the ‘Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title he won in 1989 inspired him to excel in the international arena and believes that winning a the Mega Award such as the ‘Observer Schoolboy Cricketer’ of the Year gives a huge image and great confidence for a schoolboy cricketer to go places.

Born on April 24, 1971 in Colombo, he is one of the best all-rounders produced by Nalanda College. He had four memorable school seasons for the Campbell Place school.

Dharmasena narrowly missed the chance of becoming the first to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer in four successive years.

Apart from winning the prestigious title in 1989, he had been adjudged runner up thrice - to Sanjeewa Ranatunga of Ananda College in 1988, Marvan Atapattu also of Ananda College in 1990 and Muttiah Muralidaran of St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota in 1991.

After ending his school cricket career, Dharmasena became a permanent member of Bloomfield in the domestic inter-club premier league season. Merely three years after winning the ‘Observer Schoolboy Cricketer’ of the Year title, young Dharmasena made his Test debut in Sri Lanka’s second Test against South Africa at the SSC ground in September, 1993.

He made his Sri Lanka ODI debut on August 24, 1994 in the fifth ODI against Pakistan at the Premadasa Stadium capturing 2 for 34 off nine overs.

He has aggregated 868 runs in 31 Tests with three half centuries and captured 69 wickets with 6 for 72 as his best innings analysis. Dharmasena represented Sri Lanka in 141 ODIs, aggregating 1,222 runs with four half centuries. He captured 138 wickets in ODIs with his off breaks, delivered with a slightly unorthodox action that had been a blessing to the Lankan team in many ODIs.