Boys and girls prepare to waltz on stage | Sunday Observer

Boys and girls prepare to waltz on stage

18 April, 2021
Chief Guest, former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya
Chief Guest, former Sri Lanka captain Sanath Jayasuriya

The Mother of all Cricket Shows – the 42nd Observer Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year 2020, which every award winner, their proud parents and fanatic supporters are eagerly awaiting, will finally be held at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) in Colombo on Tuesday, starting at 5.30 p.m.

Gracing school cricketers’ big day this year will be former Sri Lanka captain and ex-Chairman of selectors Sanath Jayasuriya, fresh after his last month’s performance for Sri Lanka at the Legends World Cup final where he top scored for his team.

The organizers – Sri Lanka’s leading English newspaper with the largest circulation the Sunday Observer and national mobile network provider Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel have left no stone unturned to see that this show will be a rousing one to beat all other shows and keep everyone talking till the next show like they have been doing since the inception.

As the Covid-19 pandemic hit all over the world early last year, all global activities came to a complete standstill. Hence, there was no exception in Sri Lanka as sports events too came to a complete stop after the Royal-Thomian Battle of the Blues encounter in mid-March last year. Ever since, there were no school cricket activities for a complete one year until last month.

With the Observer Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year going great guns uninterrupted for over four decades, a few other newspapers and sponsors teamed up to organize a similar school cricket award show. As the first and the pioneer in the business, we were more than happy to welcome those as the ultimate beneficiary of all those have been school cricketers.

But with the Covid-19 showing no mercy, all sponsors of those cricket award shows left their partners. Only SLT Mobitel stood strong with the Sunday Observer to exercise their corporate social responsibility. Hence, the SLT Mobitel and Sunday Observer became the only partners to honour school cricketers even when Covid-19 hit last year.

After Tuesday’s awards ceremony for achievements during the 2019-2020 seasons, the 43rd Observer SLT Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year would continue to once again reward the 2020-2021 top performers towards the end of this year.

The show is not merely an awards ceremony. It has its own fun with music, dance and entertainment acts with the experience-sharing only speech by the chief guest.

Jayasuriya, who was adjudged the Player of the Tournament at Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup triumph, once again proved his grit when he played for Sri Lana Legends after undergoing four operations including two knee surgeries and a heart stent. That’s really a classic example only legends such as Jayasuriya could perform.

The evening’s colourful entertainment will be performed by the cream of artists who are really the top of the pops now. Derana Dream Star 2020 winner Falan Andrea will lead the team along with ever-popular Randhir Witana.

Randhir began his professional music career as a member of the first hip-hop music group of Sri Lanka, Brown Boogie Nation. Later he collaborated with Sri Lankan hip-hop duo Bhathiya and Santhush featuring on their first hip-hop remix song Siri Sangabodhi.

In the early years of his career, Randhir collaborated with many popular young Sri Lankan artists, notably BnS featuring as a hip-hop artist on many of the duo’s folk hop remixes.

Two other popular artists Tehani Imara and Madhuvy Vaithialingam are among others lined top for the evening with Gayan Dance Troupe in attendance. The lively 150-minute show is coordinated by the leading event organizer Funtime under the direction of evergreen Imran Saibo.

When the huge operation is talked about, one cannot forget one of the main pillars that has been there always – Sri Lanka Telecom Group Chairman Rohan Fernando. His sporty background right from his school days at S Thomas’ College, Mt. Lavinia as a rower and his elevation to former Sri Lanka Rowing chief and Vice President of the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka made us extremely comfortable to handle things at SLT Mobitel’s 15th year as the principal sponsor.

Chairman of ANCL, President’s Counsel W. Dayaratne has always given his fullest support to make this event a success. The ANCL director board - Director Editorial Dharma Sri Kariyawasam, Director Legal and Administration, Rakhitha Abeygunawardhana, Director Finance, Janaka Ranatunga and Director Operations, Canishka Witharana have been a tower of strength towards this huge operation.

The Sunday Observer’s relationship with Mobitel (Private) Limited has always been smooth with its CEO Chandika Vitharana and day to day ground handling done by Mobitel’s Senior Manager Jude Silva and ANCL’s Channel Communication Manager Chanaka Liyanage.

ICC Chief Match Referee and former Sri Lanka captain Ranjan Madugale, the first ever winner of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1979, said he was delighted to see the smooth progress of the event. “Winning an award here is a lasting memory and I will treasure that moment forever,” he said.

“Cricket moulds one’s character and makes it a way of life to the individual concerned. Although the laws have changed from time to time to suit modern demands, one has to play the game within the laws because no one is greater than the game and its laws of cricket,” he said while adding his complements for the show.

Sri Lanka s World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year twice in 1980 and 1982, said it’s a tremendous boost for a schoolboy when he is awarded a win here. You may go places and win many other awards at higher levels, but an award won at the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year event remains the most memorable in any cricketer’s life,” he said and added his best wishes for the latest event.