Thomian spirit to haunt Royal and the sad end of a Winner | Sunday Observer

Thomian spirit to haunt Royal and the sad end of a Winner

9 July, 2022
Chintaka Jayasinghe - Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1997
Chintaka Jayasinghe - Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 1997

The 2021-2022 inter-school under-19 cricket season will conclude this month with the three key big matches – the Battle of the Saints between St. Joseph’s and St. Peter’s, the Battle of the Maroons between Ananda and Nalanda and the Battle of the Blues between Royal and S. Thomas’.

Normally, these big matches have been scheduled for March every year but the vacuum created due to Covid-19 pandemic, the school season has still not settled.

The stage is set for the 88th Battle of the Saints between St. Joseph’s and St. Peter’s which will be played at the Saravanamuttu Stadium on July 14 and 15.

While the oldest uninterrupted big match in the world - Battle of the Blues, is due later this month, Thomian captain Ryan Fernando secured a super goal last week. The 19-year old Thomian and leading run-getter Fernando came out with scintillating double hundreds, thus posing the biggest threat to Royal in two weeks time.

He scored an unbeaten 252 against Isipathana and followed it up with another brilliant knock of 200 not out against Ananda at the SSC ground on Thursday – a dream achievement for any schoolboy cricketer.

When he scored an unbeaten 252 against Isipathana, he bettered two school records - the highest individual score for S. Thomas’ beating the previous one held by Bertie Wijesinghe who scored 235 and the highest individual scorer against S. Thomas’ which was by Trinitian Kumar Sangakkara who made 197.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain 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 ahead of Ranatunga who won the title back in 1982 for the second time. Ranatunga emerged the runner-up in the 1981 Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest.

Similarly, Thilan Samaraweera too got a superb chance for a triple crown in 1996. But Samaraweera too 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, who became the first cricketer from Dharmapala College, Pannipitiya to become the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1997.

Jayasinghe was educated at Dharmapala Vidyalaya in Pannipitiya. Perhaps his greatest cricketing moment to date 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 Under-19 team that toured Malaysia and Singapore in 1994 and England in 1995. He 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.

Famous for his hard-hitting and bowling useful medium pace, 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 ‘A’ level.

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 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 is 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 few weeks to go, there will be an interesting period ahead.

What excitement and enthusiasm will be 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.

Next year, it will be a memorable occasion for the Observer-SLT Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year which marks four and half 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.

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 Under-19 Division I Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award.

Mendis who managed 597 runs in seven games at an average of 85.29 in the last school season went on to captain Sri Lanka Under-19 in the concluded Under-19 World Cup and managed to win the Plate trophy.

The principal sponsor of the show for the 15th successive year is SLT Mobitel which has taken the Observer-Mobitel School Cricketer of the Year to a new level. Group Chairman of the Sri Lanka Telecom Rohan Fernando has extended his fullest support and cooperation to make the Mega Show the show of all shows.