Some of the top international cricketers produced by Sri Lanka, all top award winners of yesteryear, have commended the role played by the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest to promote school cricket during the past four decades.
Top former Sri Lanka cricketers such as Ranjan Madugalle, Arjuna Ranatunga, Roshan Mahanama, Asanka Gurusinha, Sanath Jayasuriya, Muttiah Muralitharan, Marvan Atapattu, Kumar Dharmasena and Thilan Samaraweera, to name a few, and even present vice captain of the national team Dinesh Chandimal, had stepped into the international arena through one common platform – the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest.
Former Sri Lanka cricketer and current Cricket Manager of the Sri Lanka national team, Asanka Gurusinha said the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title he won in 1985 was the turning point in his cricket career.In an exclusive interview with the Sunday Observer, the 50-year-old ex-Sri Lanka world cup star said the year 1985 turned out to be a memorable year for him after winning the most sought-after title in school cricket. “When Roshan Mahnama won this award twice in 1983 and 1984, I felt how prestigious it is to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award.
Ex-Sri Lanka all-rounder and present ICC Elite Panel Umpire Kumara Dharmasena commended the role played by Lake House to promote school cricket and said that the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title he won in 1989 was an inspiration for him to become an international cricketer. As a promising schoolboy cricketer from Nalanda, Dharmasena had three extraordinary seasons filled with runs and wickets to emerge runner up in the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contests in 1988 and 1990, apart from the main title he won in between (1989). He was the runner up to Sanjeewa Ranatunga (1988) and Marvan Ataoattu (1990) in the main Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest.
Former Sri Lanka cricketer turned ICC Elite Panel Umpire, Kumar Dharmasena said the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title he won in 1989 inspired him to excel in the international arena.“It was one of the greatest moments in my career as a cricketer. Winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title was a big inspiration. That helped and encouraged me to play for Sri Lanka,” Dharmasena said.
Producing champions and world class cricketers is nothing new for the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year series since its inception way back in 1979. It has even produced Chief ICC Match Referee, another ICC Match Referee and an ICC elite panel umpire.
It is heartening to see two former Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award winners – Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Mendis making Sri Lanka proud with two blistering centuries in the back to back Tests in the current home series against Bangladesh.First it was former Cambrian cricketer Mendis, the winner of the prestigious Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 2013 who anchored Sri Lanka batting when Sri Lanka won the first Test against Bangladesh by 256 runs in Galle. Mendis had a marathon knock of 194 but narrowly missed a double century when he unsuccessfully attempted to signal it with a six.
The number three batting position is a vital link to any cricket team. When it comes to a national team, it is even more important as it could eventually carry the hope of a nation.In the 1990s, it was 1985 Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Asanka Gurusinha who shouldered this great responsibility and provided that much needed stability and reliability to the Sri Lanka team.
A former Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award winner is on duty with the Sri Lanka team at the first Test against Bangladesh now being played in Galle. He is none other than former Sri Lanka batsman and the winner of the prestigious Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 1985 Asanka Gurusinha who was recently appointed as cricket manager of the Sri Lanka team.
The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year series has produced many Sri Lanka cricketers who made their mark in the international arena in a big way. Besides those legendary cricketers in world cricket, several past recipients of the prestigious award had played many other leading roles for the great game.