It will be a memorable day for tomorrow’s Test heroes when the 33rd Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year mega awards ceremony takes place at the Grand Ballroom of the Galadari Hotel, Colombo commencing at 5.30 p.m. today.
The event, hosted by our sister paper the Sunday Observer, is sponsored by Sri Lanka’s national mobile telephone service provider – Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel. Since its inauguration way back in 1979 at a time there were no inter-school tournaments to awards ceremonies to reward outstanding schoolboy cricketers, the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year has gone from strength to strength over the past three decades.
Gracing this year’s awards ceremony will be world record holder Muttiah Muralitharan. It was exactly 20 years ago that Muralitharan, as a schoolboy from St. Anthony’s College, Katugastota won the prestigious Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1991. Since then, Muralitharan blossomed to be the deadliest bowler ever in international cricket, posing a severe threat to any batsman in the world.
By the time he announced his retirement from international cricket a few months ago, he had already reached the pinnacle of world cricket as the highest wicket taker in both Tests and One Day Internationals. Muralitharan is amongst the galaxy of star Sri Lanka cricketers who had stepped into the international arena through the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year. The first of the renowned list of cricketers is the current ICC Chief Match Referee Ranjan Madugalle, who won this prestigious award at the inaugural ceremony in 1979.
Among those outstanding Sri Lanka cricketers who had stepped into the big league after winning the prestigious award are former Sri Lanka captains Arjuna Ranatunga, Roshan Mahanama and Marvan Atapattu. Joining Muralitharan and them in the elite club of cricketers are former Sri Lanka cricketers Asanka Gurusinha, Kumara Dharmasena, Roshan Jurangpathy, Sajith Fernando, Thilan Samaraweera, Muthumudalige Pushpakumara, Kayushal Weeraratne, Kaushal Lokuarachchi and Dinesh Chandimal.
Minister of Information and Mass Media Hon Keheliya Rambukwella, Minister of Sports Mahindananda Aluthgamage and Minister of Education, Bandula Gunawardena have been invited as Guests of Honour for this year’s Mega Show.
Adding colour to the big event will be ever-popular Bhathiya and Santhush. Beside several acts to be performed by B n S, several other popular artists too will entertain youth. That includes K. Sujeewa, Asanka Sahabandu of Good Morning Mala fame, Roshan Fernando (Sulanga wage) and Randhir Ojaye fame.
A limited number of special passes are available exclusively for the Daily News readers on a first come first served basis. Kindly call organizers on 011-2429231 between 9 am to 12 am today for prior reservations.
The big question will be who would be crowned the new Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer tonight? A keen tussle is expected between two Royalists – Ramith Rambukwella and Bhanuka Rajapaksa.
The two former Royal captains have shown tremendous form with the willow and both of them have already won Observer-Mobitel key awards. Rajapaksa won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title last year while Rambukwella has emerged the clear winner at this year’s poll to become the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2011.
Will Rajapaksa be able to make it two in-a-row and emulate the feats of Arjuna Ranatunga and Roshan Mahanama, the only two cricketers who have won the prestigious title twice.
If Rambukwella wins the top award, he will be completing a grand double with both the popular and merit titles. But the glittering trophy could go to neither of them as they face a tough competition, when the season’s performances are evaluated.
Among the other key short-listed cricketers for the richest price in school cricket are Shehan Jayasuriya (Prince of Wales), Amila Aponso (St. Sebestian’s Moratuwa), Sachithra Perera (Ananda), Dhananjaya de Silva (Richmond) and M.I. Rafi (Zahira).
The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2011 –Outstation title too will be closely contested among Shanka Ramesh (Moratuwa M.V.), Novod Illukwatte (SJMV- Kotte), Dushan Vimukthi (Royal Panadura), Ruchira Tharindu (Royal – Panadura) and Tharindu Kaushal (Devapathiraja). The outstation title is also an important one with the most notable among past winners being Sanath Jayasuriya, who won this coveted award when he was schoolboy cricketer at St. Servatious College, Matara.
All in all, it all points to an entertaining and memorable evening for the country’s outstanding schoolboy cricketers who are dreaming of being future heroes in international arena.
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