Boyagoda: Sri Lanka’s young history maker | Sunday Observer

Boyagoda: Sri Lanka’s young history maker

25 August, 2019

The 40th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2018 meeting between the first and the latest winners of the most prestigious event in school cricket was a great moment.

The winner of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2018, Hasitha Boyagoda had the honour of receiving the glittering trophy form the recipient of the same title in its very first year 1978/79 Ranjan Maduglle, now the Chief Match Referee of the ICC.

Madugalle too had his primary education at Trinity College before switching to Royal College from Grade 7 in 1971.

Incidentally, Boyagoda was the third Trinitian to win the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in its 41 year history after Kaushalya Weeraratne (2000) and Niroshan Dickwella (2012).

Born on December 21, 1998, Boyagoda is another Sri Lanka youth cricketer knocking at the door of the national team. In April last year, he was named in Kandy’s squad for the 2018 Super Provincial One Day Tournament. He made his debut for Kandy in the 2018 Super Provincial One Day Tournament on May 17, 2018.

He is a right hand top order batsman who has already proved his credentials and also capable of bowling right arm off spin in crisis situations. Although Boyagoda opens batting in limited overs matches, he generally comes in one-drop or middle order in the established version. With only an year after winning the mega title, he has played eight first class matches inclusive of a century and two half tons. Boyagoda played for the Sri Lanka youth team in the Under-19 World Cup with distinction. He scored 191 against Kenya, the highest in an Under-19 match. He scored another century in the tournament to become the only Sri Lankan batsman to score two centuries (191 against Kenya and 116 against the West Indies) in an Under-19 World Cup tournament. His success at the tournament, prompted the International Cricket Council (ICC) to name him as the rising star of the squad.

He made his Twenty20 debut for Dambulla on August 21, 2018 in the 2018 SLC T20 League tournament and made his first-class debut for Nondescripts Cricket Club in the 2018–19 Premier League Tournament on November 30, 2018.

His success there prompted find him a place in the Sri Lanka Emerging team for the 2018 ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup.

Boyagoda also represented the Sri Lanka U-19 team on tours to Australia in 2017 and South Africa in 2016 besides playing in the Asia Cup. As one of Trinity’s most successful cricket captains, he had the honour of winning the highest award on offer at Trinity College, the Ryde Gold Medal for the year 2017.

The Ryde Gold Medal is the highest honour that Trinity bestows to the best all-round student of the school. Among some of the previous distinguished winners of the medal were Kumar Sangakkara (1996), Lakshman Kadirgamar (1949) and T.B. Werapitiya (1943). The Ryde Gold Medal is named after Rev RW Ryde, former Principal of Trinity from 1900 to 1902. Boyagoda is the eldest in a family of three and was introduced to hard ball cricket at the age of eight with Harold Ranasinghe being his first coach. At Trinity, he came under the coaching of Sampath Perera, one of the proven coaches who has produced cricketers such as Niroshan Dickwella and Lahiru Kumara.

In his junior school cricket career, Boyagoda captained the under-13, 15 and 17 teams while at the same time captained the Central Province under-15 and 19 teams. At the 99th Kandy Battle of the Blues in 2016, he won the Best Batsman’s award and in the following year’s centenary match he was adjudged the Man-of-the-Match. In the 101st big match against St. Anthony’s, his willow kept on speaking once more as he once again won both the Best Batsman and Man-of-the-Match awards in 2018.

He was equally clever in the limited overs version as he walked away with the Man-of-the-Match award at the 2017 one-dayer against the Antonians and in the 2018 limited overs match he won both the Best Batsman and Man-of-the-Match trophies. Boyagoda thus became the first Trinitian to score a century against St. Anthony’s in a one dayer.

His favourite sportsman is his school’s hero Kumar Sangakkara whose skills as a superb personality all-round has inspired the young Boyagoda to make this choice.

Boyagoda is a classic example on how youngsters balance studies and sports and has already emulated or even bettered Sangakkara academically by coming out with impressive results at the GCE Advanced Level examination. Having both his parents in the medical field as Consultants would have largely influenced Boyagoda in his studies. However, he opted to a commerce stream to obtain 3As and finish second in the Kandy District and 62nd in the island’s rankings last year. Boyagoda was lucky to survive the Easter Sunday bomb attack when he was having breakfast with his parents, brother and sister at the Shangri-La Hotel in Colombo.

Meanwhile, the 41st Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest is scheduled to be held shortly. Prior to that, the special selection panel headed by Hashan Tillekaratne met at the Galadari Hotel along with the school cricket and umpires association top officials and picked the winners.

This will be the 12th consecutive year that Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel will be sponsoring the Mega Show, the country’s first schools cricket awards show which had started in an era in which there had not been even a first XI inter-school cricket tournament.

Winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title has remained the dream of every schoolboy cricketer. Moreover, there is a common belief among schoolboy cricketers that winning the prestigious title would take them closer to a place in Sri Lanka team.

Most past winners of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer title had made their Sri Lanka debut in double quick time. SLT Mobitel has played a praiseworthy role in the promotion of the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year event.

Thanks to the untiring efforts of Sri Lanka Telecom Chairman Kumarasinghe Sirisena and SLT Mobitel Chief Executive Officer Nalin Perera who have played a dynamic role in promoting school cricket in a big way. Lake House Chairman, Krishantha Cooray has always helped this event to go that extra mile, giving his innovative ideas.