The third month of the 44th Observer-SLT Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year Most Popular contest has gathered momentum. Ever since the launch of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest in 1978, the Mega Show has turned out to be the most looked forward to event by school cricketers. Not only school cricketers but also by the old boys of the respective schools and sports enthusiasts who have made it a fashion. The event is sponsored by SLT Mobitel which has been providing its financial support for the past 15 years.
The only under-19 inter-school cricket encounter which went uninterrupted during the 2020-21 Covid-19 pandemic – the Battle of the Blues Royal-Thomian, will be played from July 7 to 9 this year. Now that the threat posed by the pandemic is gradually fading away here, the joint organizing committee expects to have a better crowd. Hence, the picturesque SSC ground which has hosted the Battle of the Blues encounter in recent times is likely to be the popular venue. The 2020 Battle of the Blues encounter had a close call as the country was locked down due to the Covid-19 pandemic immediately after the third day two years ago.
The inter-school Under-19 First X1 cricket season is reaching an interesting stage with the big matches about to start. Although the big match season is customarily held in March every year, the age old customs went for a six with the Covid-19 pandemic. Soon after the Battle of the Blues big match between Royal and S. Thomas’ in mid-March in 2020, not only all sports but all day to day activities of the entire world were curtailed. Most big matches last year were not played though a few matches including the Battle of the Blues were played but several months behind the schedule. Hence, the more than a century old custom of having March as the big match month took a back seat.
Trinity’s first innings lead over Nalanda helped them to retain the Mahela-Sanga Challenge trophy while Royal warmed up for the upcoming Battle of the Blues with a good display against Thurstan in two of the key Under-19 Inter-School matches played last week. In the first match played at Nalanda grounds, Campbell Place, Trinity gained first innings points for their total of 275. The Lions’ innings was boosted with two solid knocks from Ranuda Somaratne (91) and Rahal Amarasinghe (75). They then restricted the home team to 143 all out in their first essay. Forced to follow on, Nalanda were struggling at 153 for 7 wickets in their second innings at close.
The highest individual innings by a local batswoman was registered by 16-year-old Vishmi Gunaratne of Ratnaweli Balika when she smashed an unbeaten 417 against Jayasiripura Junior School in Negombo last Thursday. Most importantly, the marathon knock came in a limited over match. In an almost single handed effort, Gunaratne’s 417 not out enabled her team to score 567 for 2 in 30 overs. She was given a good helping hand by Sandali Weerasinghe who made 78. Jayasiripura were bowled out for 35 runs in 14.3 overs, giving Ratnaweli a thumping win in their Under-19 girls limited overs match.
The most popular contest of the 44th Observer-SLT Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year completes its first month as some of the popular inter-school big matches are about to begin after Sinhala and Tamil New Year vacation. As the 2022 Most Popular Observer-SLT Mobitel School Cricketers contest is about to enter the month of May in two week’s time, the season’s big matches is about to begin with the biggest one of the big ’uns – the Battle of the Blues between Royal and S. Thomas’.
When I was writing my weekly column on the Observer-SLT School Cricketers, there came the shocking news - the death of a sports news legend. It was saddening to learn of the death of former Deputy Editor and long-standing Sports Editor of the Sunday Observer A. C. De Silva, a well-known Thomian and former water polo referee. He was the Sports Editor of the Sunday Observer even at the time I began my journalistic career exactly 35 years on April 16, 1987. He passed away on Thursday at the age of 80. He played a leading role in the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer since its inception in1979.
There has been slow but steady progress in voting as the most popular contests of the 44th Observer SLT Mobitel School Cricketers contest began last week. It was only last December that Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga graced the Observer SLT Mobitel School Cricketers contest, 42 years after he first kissed the glittering trophy. Speaking as the chief guest, Ranatunga warned the country’s school cricketers of the evils of focusing on money while drawing a contrast to his own success without a cent in his pocket.
Sri Lanka’s premier English newspaper with the largest circulation, Sunday Observer has once again joined hands with Sri Lanka’s national mobile network SLT Mobitel to launch the 44th Observer SLT Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year. The sponsorship presentation of the 44th Observer-Mobitel Schools Cricketers of the Year 2022 took place at the SLT Mobitel head office at Rotunda Gardens, Colombo 3 on Thursday. This marked the launch of the island-wide voting for the Observer-SLT Mobitel Schools Cricketers of the Year commencing from today.
The 44th Observer-SLT School Cricketers of the Year contest begins today with voting for the Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer and Schoolgirl Cricketer. Here Chief Marketing Officer of Mobitel (Pvt) Ltd, Shashika Senarath presents the sponsorship of the Observer-SLT School Cricketers of the Year contest to Director, Legal and Administration of ANCL, Attorney-at-Law Rakhitha Abeygoonawardhana. General Manager, Consumer Sales and Distribution of Mobitel, Sugath Abeysinghe and ANCL Manager Channel Publicity, Chanaka Liyanage look on. Pic: Chinthaka Kumarasinghe