Good old traditions will continue for the betterment of the game as the 41st Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year gala awards ceremony takes place at the Grand Ballroom of the Colombo Hilton starting at 5.30 pm today.
The Mega Show which has rendered yeoman service to thousands of up and coming schoolboy cricketers across the country for over four decades is organized by Sri Lanka’s flagship English newspaper Sunday Observer and sponsored by the country’s national mobile service provider Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel.
|The chief guest, cricketing legend
Aravinda de Silva
It was in an era where there was no inter-school under-19 two-day tournament that the Mega Show began in 1978/1979. There was only first X1 friendly matches during that time but the Sunday Observer and its publisher Lake House understood the need of the hour as a true corporate entity and gave birth to this great event.
In the very first year, it was Haliborange that sponsored the event while Bata Shoe Company was the second sponsor.
But 12 years ago, the ideal life partner of the event was found as SLT Mobitel came in as a sponsor in a big way and still keeps batting. Mobitel’s timely arrival at the crease made the event to go from strength to strength, by generously increasing the prize money.
Subsequently, a couple of similar awards shows emerged to further reward schoolboy cricketers following our initiative but we are happy to see these progress as the schoolboy cricketers would be the ultimate winners.
Nevertheless, the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer remained the Mother of All Shows.
Mobitel batting with the Sunday Observer also enabled the special incentive not only for schoolboy and schoolgirl cricketers but also for their coaches and masters-in-charge who play a praiseworthy role behind the scene.
It was a fitting tribute to the first ever recipient of the Observer Schoolboy cricketer of the Year, then Royal captain Ranjan Madugalle, to grace the 40th anniversary show last year as the chief guest and give away the glittering trophy to Trinity’s Hasitha Boyagoda.
As the first winner, Madugalle has set a brilliant example that will be hard to emulate, rising to lead NCC and Sri Lanka with distinction and now acting as the Chief Match Referee of the ICC.
In fact, it was another landmark as Ranatunga too was a proud recipient of the award twice, in 1980 and 1982.
Beside Ranatunga, the there were six other former Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award winners in that world champion team in Roshan Mahanama (1983 and 1984), Asanka Gurusinha (1985), Kumar Dharmasena (1989), Marvan Atapattu (1990) and Test cricket’s highest wicket taker Muttaiah Muralitharan (1991).
The most valuable player of the 1996 ICC World Cup tournament Sanath Jayasurya was also the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Outstation in 1988.
That alone is proof as to how this show has contributed in grooming tomorrow’s talent today.
Even the current Sri Lanka cricket pool has three former award winners of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest in former captain Dinesh Chandimal (2009), Niroshan Dickwella (2012) and Kusal Mendis (2013). There is a common belief among schoolboy cricketers that the prestigious title would take them closer to sporting a Sri Lanka ‘cap’. Most past winners of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title had made their Sri Lanka debut in double quick time.
Sri Lanka Telecom Chairman Kumarasinghe Sirisena and SLT Mobitel Chief Executive Officer Nalin Perera have played dynamic roles in promoting school cricket in a big way.
The untiring efforts of Lake House Chairman, Krishantha Cooray has always helped this event to go that extra mile.
The big question is who will be the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2019 who will join a select band and the answer to that would be found at the end of the glittering show of shows tonight.