Over the past 42 years, all top Sri Lanka cricketers have commended the exemplary role played by the Observer-Mobitel School Cricketer of the Year.
They lavishly praised the role played by Sri Lanka’s flagship English newspaper the Sunday Observer in rewarding tomorrow’s cricketing stars.
Here are some of the instances they have commended the Mother of All Shows, sponsored by SLT Mobitel.
ICC Chief Match Referee and former Sri Lanka captain Ranjan Madugalle: “The Sunday Observer should be complemented for keeping the show going for all these years. Sponsors are essential to keep the show going. May the show continue many more years.
“In the past, most of the winners of the top awards came from Colombo and its suburbs, but now the outstation schools have come in a big way and it is a positive sign for the game”.
Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga: “It is the dream of any schoolboy cricketer to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award. It’s great for the Sunday Observer in continuing the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest for the 31st year from 1979 to encourage the budding schoolboy cricketers. I was particularly happy to see that the Northern Province will join up with the others in the competitions at the contest.
“I am delighted to see the improvement of outstation cricket as the game has spread far and wide in the country. Many Sri Lankan cricketing giants of the past and the present are those who have either won the prestigious and coveted Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Award or one of the many awards presented at the contest”.
Former Sri Lanka captain and ex-ICC Match Refree Roshan Mahanama: “To be adjudged the best schoolboy cricketer and be honored for the hard work during the season was a great encouragement. I was privileged to receive this award as it was one of my dreams.
“Winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in successive years was a memorable one and a stepping stone to playing in big the league. Being crowned the best Schoolboy Cricketer made me even more determined to work harder to reach greater heights when I first got the taste of international cricket.
“I had watched former Nalanda player Bandula Warnapura in action. We had full houses for all those inter-school games and it was a passion. The school authorities too encouraged the boys to watch matches”.
Former Sri Lanka cricketer and ex-Sri Lanka coach Asanka Gurusinha: “When Roshan Mahanama won this award twice in 1983 and 1984, I truly understood how prestigious it is to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award. It was a rare honour and a rich award that not every schoolboy cricketer had the fortune to win. One has to be outstanding and be consistent right throughout a season to win that and work really hard to reach the pinnacle of school cricket.
“I was hungry to win that title after watching the proud moment when Mahanama won the award which was also an honour for his alma mater Nalanda. I knew hard work and dedication with exceptional performance could take a schoolboy cricketer towards that goal. I successfully achieved my dream as a schoolboy the following year.
“I am glad that the Sunday Observer is hosting the awards show uninterrupted, thus encouraging the budding schoolboy cricketers”.
Former Sri Lanka spinner and world record holder for most number of Test wickets Muttiah Muralideran: “Schoolboy cricketers are the future Sri Lanka players. You must keep the Sri Lanka flag flying wherever you go. Play hard and dedicate yourself, then success is bound to come. As young cricketers, you must keep in mind that only 11 could play in a team.
“When you get that rare chance of playing for your team, you must put your heart and soul and give hundred percent to the team, so that success will come your way. Don’t be disappointed if you fail once or twice in the early stages of your career. Keep on trying and success is bound to come your way”.
“Keep absolutely cool even when the going is not the way you want. I learnt this from my captain Arjuna Ranatunga (another proud recipient of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 1980 and 1982) who sported a cool head even when the going was not good. Arjuna used to take pressure off the players when the going is not to his liking. He doesn’t show any anger that’s why he is called captain cool”.
ICC Elite Panel Umpire and former Sri Lanka cricketer Kumara Dharmasena: “I must congratulate ANCL and the Sunday Observer for keeping the show going for over 30 years.
Sponsors are vital for the progress of sports in a country and Lake House has taken the lead and it helps the authorities to build up the youth.
“Development of youth is very important as the youth are the ones who will take the country forward. The contest has been in existence for three decades and the competition is a fore-runner in helping the schoolboy to perform well”.
Former Sri Lanka captain and ex-Sri Lanka coach Marvan Atapattu: “The Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest gave all the encouragement for me to forge ahead in the cricket world since I won the title in 1990 and also became the Best Batsman.
“I would like to compliment ANCL and the Sunday Observer for keeping the show going for all these years. Schoolboy cricketers should be encouraged on a larger scale.
“This contest is sure to identify the talent and the high performances. I am confident that the up-and-coming schoolboy cricketers follow the same example set by those who won top awards at the contest”.
Ex-Sri Lanka cricketer and former Sri Lanka batting coach Thilan Samaraweera: “I owe my climb to the top in cricket due to this popular contest which I won way back in 1994 and 1995. I endorse this long standing contest as the best for schoolboy cricketers.
“The Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest proved to be one of the best in the country.
“I am indeed happy that this contest has continued for over 40 years and my wish is that it goes on for many more years”.