The Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year competition has had deep roots in the sporting annals of this country and it was our sister paper the 'Daily News' that had somewhat of a 'kick-start' to this competition in the year 1956 when the contest was sponsored by Hemachandra Brothers.
Both Ranjan Madugalle and Roshan Mahanama who have won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year on two occasions each were of the view that school cricket is the cradle of Sri Lanka cricket and both believe that Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel and Sunday Observer will sponsor young cricketers in the future too, so that the youngsters will be able to come to the top.
The year 2009 was a significant one for young Dinesh Chandimal, the current Sri Lanka Test Vice Captain, and Twenty20 captain, who led Ananda College in the ‘Big Match’ - the ‘Battle of the Maroons’ encounter against Nalanda College.
My involvement with Sri Lanka school cricket goes way back to the year 2000, and within this period over a decade the Sunday Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of The Year Contest has reached great heights by recognising the bulk of the players who have represented the country at the highest level.
Former Sri Lanka Test captain Duleep Mendis who is back in the Island after a short coaching stint in Oman, took a bit of his time to say that the Sunday Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of The Year Contest as one of the most effective contests in recognising schoolboy cricketers.
Former Sri Lanka batting maestro Aravinda de Silva has played many great Innings,but what invariably comes into one's mind is the match winning century at the 1996 World Cup final when Sri Lanka beat Australia to win a World Cup for the first time.
Kaushal Lokuarachchi became the third Peterite to win the Sunday Observer Schoolboy Cricketer Award in the year 2001, and he was quickly identified as a potential Sri Lanka player because of his allround capabilities. The Peterites who won the coveted award previously were left-hand batsman Rohan Buultjens in 1981, and Lahiru Peiris who won it twice in 2004 and 2005.
Sunday Observer – Mobitel Cricket Contest .... Talking about all-rounders these days, Josephian Chaturanga Kumara who won the Best All-rounders prize (All-Island) at the 32nd Sunday Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of The Year 2010 Contest could be considered as a good bet for the future.
To win the Sunday Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest not many schoolboy cricketers have been able to do, and to win two top awards have been the prerogative of Former Royal College, all-rounder Kithuruwan Vithanage who was judged as the Best Batsman (All-Island) on merit and was also voted by the readers of the Sunday Observer as the Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, (All-Island) in the year 2010 at the 32nd Sunday Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest.
The Sunday Observer/Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest is a much looked forward to event and Thilan Samaraweera was a another player who won the contest in consecutive years. He blossomed out as a top all-rounder with his tantalising off spin bowling and steady batting in both years. He won the contest in the years 1994 and 1995.