A month more for the Mega Show! | Sunday Observer

A month more for the Mega Show!

Flashback: When Charith Asalanka of Richmond College, Galle won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award for the first time. Picture shows Asalanka receiving the award from former Sri Lanka Test Cricketer Russel Arnold who was the chief guest at the award ceremony held at Galadari Hotel in 2015. Also in the picture are Chairman and Managing Director of Lake House (ANCL) Kavan Ratnayake (extreme right) and Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel P.G.Kumarasinghe (extreme left). Picture by Lal
Flashback: When Charith Asalanka of Richmond College, Galle won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award for the first time. Picture shows Asalanka receiving the award from former Sri Lanka Test Cricketer Russel Arnold who was the chief guest at the award ceremony held at Galadari Hotel in 2015. Also in the picture are Chairman and Managing Director of Lake House (ANCL) Kavan Ratnayake (extreme right) and Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel P.G.Kumarasinghe (extreme left). Picture by Lalith C.Gamage

It’s exactly a month away from this year’s Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Mega Show – Sri Lanka’s first-ever school cricket awards show, organized by the country’s flagship English newspaper Sunday Observer and sponsored by the national mobile service provider Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel.

The 39th edition of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest is scheduled to be held at Galadari Hotel, Colombo on July 25, commencing from 5.30 p.m. Incidentally, this will be the tenth consecutive year that the SLT Mobitel will be sponsoring the Mega Show, which has a rich history of producing legendary cricketers, including Sri Lanka’s world cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, world’s highest Test wicket taker Muttiah Muralitharan and the Chief ICC Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle. The inaugural show was held way back in 1979 with the then Royal College captain Ranjan Madugalle winning the prestigious title.

The launch of the Mega Show was a new experience for local school cricket at that time as there wasn’t any school cricket awards show in that era.

As the country’s leading national English newspaper, the Sunday Observer had correctly identified the need to reward the country’s budding cricketers after a strenuous season. Moreover, there had not been any organized inter-school under-19 tournament structure, apart from traditional school fixtures. Hence, the launch of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest at Navarangahala in 1979 opened a new chapter in Sri Lanka cricket, giving a tremendous boost for local school cricket. The novel concept was a big inspiration to schoolboy cricketers and in next to no time, the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest became the most sought-after event in the school cricket calendar.

The second recipient of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title after Madugalle was the then Ananda captain Arjuna Ranatunga. Incidentally, both Madugalle and Ranatunga were chosen to play for Sri Lanka in the country’s inaugural Test against England at Saravanamuttu Stadium, Colombo in February, 1982.

The duo made it a memorable occasion by scoring debut half centuries in the inaugural Test against England. When the experienced players failed to impress, both Ranatunga and Madugalle faced the England attack bravely to score half centuries on their Test debut. Ranatunga, who made 54, was the first to do so while Madugalle followed minutes later with a sparkling knock of 65.

SLT Mobitel has greatly contributed towards the resounding success of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest during the last decade. Its rich sponsorship package has enabled the organizers to improve the standard of the contest.

Apart from bigger cash incentives even the quality of the trophies that are on offer, too have been improved to meet the high standards.

When the lavish contribution of SLT Mobitel is spoken about, we cannot forget the keenness shown by the CEO of the SLT Mobitel Nalin Perera who has been a tower of strength in the success of Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest.

SLT Mobitel’s financial backing has not only enabled the organizers to boost prize money but also to reward coaches and masters-in-charge of champion teams.

These officials and coaches render a yeomen service and are often a forgotten lot. Hence, the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest has been appreciating the silent service of coaches and masters-in-charge.

Charith Asalanka of Richmond College, Galle has won the prestigious Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year main titles in last two successive years.

In fact, Ranatunga was the first to win the coveted title twice for the first time in the series when he accounted for the mega title in 1980 and 1982. It will be interesting to see who the new schoolboy cricketer would be.

The preliminary selections have already been made and the outstanding players who have been shortlisted for various awards, including the main award, have already been announced.

Meanwhile, the race for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year tiles, awarded under three divisions, has turned out to be a closely contested affair. The deadline for voting has been extended until July 16.

There has been heavy voting with more and more votes pouring in for the front runners.

But anything could happen in the last two weeks and there could been a close tussle at the end to determine the winners.

Talking about the past winners of the prestigious title for outstation cricketers, one cannot forget the emergence of Sanath Jayasuriya, the present Chairman of Selectors, through this contest.

During his final year in cricket at St. Servatius College, Matara, young Jayasuriya was adjuded Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in the Outstation Segment in 1988.

He made a clean sweep by accounting for the Best Batsman and Best All-rounder awards in the Outstation category.

Born in Matara on June 30, 1969, Jayasuriya mastered his basics in cricket at St. Servatius’ College, Matara where his cricketing talents were nourished by the Principal, G. L. Galappathy and coach Lionel Munasinghe.

Jayasuriya was one of the main architects of Sri Lanka’s victory at the 1996 World Cup.

His explosive batting earned him the Most Valuable Player of the Series (Man of the Tournament) title. 

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