Truncated school cricket format helped Sri Lanka’s youth players | Page 3 | Sunday Observer

Truncated school cricket format helped Sri Lanka’s youth players

2 January, 2022
The champion St. Joseph's College team comprising Sheran Fonseka, Sadeesh Jayawardena, Shevon Daniel, Mithira Thenura, Dunith Wellalage, Yesith Rupasinghe, Dinal Anuradha, Shenuka de Silva, Hirun Matheesha, W Vimuksthi Deshan and Lahiru Amarasekera (Pic courtesy
The champion St. Joseph's College team comprising Sheran Fonseka, Sadeesh Jayawardena, Shevon Daniel, Mithira Thenura, Dunith Wellalage, Yesith Rupasinghe, Dinal Anuradha, Shenuka de Silva, Hirun Matheesha, W Vimuksthi Deshan and Lahiru Amarasekera (Pic courtesy

A country renowned as a frontline cricketing nation across the world due to some of its charismatic performances, Sri Lanka has been able to prove her image as a competitive nation on and off the big stage.

School cricket is one of the foremost pillars of the Sri Lankan cricketing structure and has been a vital cog for the sport’s growth over the years where it helped to produce a number of global superstars that came up through school cricketing ranks.

The period 2020/2021 was a season that went through a pandemic that caused a number of obstacles that could have had a bearing on the international game. But through the disruption school cricket found some sort of comfort for what was achieved positively even in a small way.

The 2020/2021 season was launched in March 2021 and this season was exceptional due to a number of reasons. The main reason was that the season was remodeled as a one-day tournament because of the pandemic situation where Division 1, 2, and 3 had two tiers in A and B.

Then the top four teams from each group qualified for the semifinals and the winner was crowned in the finals. Another fact to take from this season was that due to the re-modelled tournament structure there was no promotion or demotion and that means the same teams that contested in each division this season will continue on the same division next season as well.

This remodelled school cricket tournament made a number of positive impacts for the under 19 national team where players found more exposure in 50-over cricket to prepare for international competitions like the Under-19 Asia Cup and World Cup in the Caribbean in 2022.

The tournament was fortunately not disrupted by the Covid 19 pandemic once it started and a number of talent emerged. It is not harsh to state that this season may have produced one of the finest generations of players that have the potential to be the next crew of sailors to carry Sri Lankan cricket for the symphony of glory.

Dunith Wellalage, Shevon Daniel, Jeewaka Sasheen, Sahan Sankalpa, Sheran Fonseka, Pavan Sandesh, Navod Pathirana and Pavan Ratnayake are some of the players that made highlights in a season.

The impact of improvement of these players was helpful for them to perform well in the home series against England as well as against Bangladesh and most recently the Asia Cup in the UAE where the team reached the final.

The Division 1 Tier A was undoubtedly the most competitive under-19 tournament that happened in the 2020/2021 season. The group was bulked up with a number of genuine talents and that made this an interesting tournament that was mostly dominated by the ever-obliging St. Joseph’s College, Colombo 10 who were crowned as the champions after they defeated Royal College Colombo in the grand finale.

Ahan Wickramasinghe from Royal College was the leading run scorer in the Division 1 Tier A tournament with 474 runs while Dunith Wellalage from St. Joseph’s became the leading wicket-taker with 15 scalps to his name.

The Division 1 Tier B also took a competitive turn where Mahinda College became champions by defeating Devapathiraja College Ratgama in the final. Pavan Sandesh from Devapathiraja was the leading scorer in this group as he managed to score 343 runs across the tournament while Lohan De Zoysa from Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda became the highest wicket-taker with 17 scalps in his bag.

Sri Sumangala College Panadura were the champions of the Division 2 Tier A tournament when they defeated St. John’s College Panadura in the final.

Mihiranga Fernando (Sri Sumangala) with 307 runs was the leading run-scorer while Vishwa Lahiru Kumara also from Sri Sumangala captured 22 wickets to become the highest wicket-taker.

The Division 2 Tier B title was won by CMS Sri Jayawardenapura College, Kotte while Royal College Panadura became the runners-up. Pulasthi Atapattu from Kegalu Vidyalaya scored 312 runs to become the leading runs scorer while Denuwan Jayawardhana from Sri Jayawardenapura picked up18 wickets to become the leading wicket-taker.

The Division 3 Tier A title was captured by Vidyaloka College Galle when they took on Jaffna Central College in the final. Kavindu Sathmina (Badulla Central College) who scored 371 runs took the honour as the leading run-scorer while Praveen Maneesha from Rajasinghe Central College, Hanwella was the leading wicket-taker with 22 scalps.

The Division 3 Tier B championship was won by Maris Stella, Thimbirigaskatuwa when they defeated Pannala National School in the final. Savindu Perera and Vinila Perera from Maris Stella, Thimbirigaskatuwa become the highest run-scorer and leading wicket taker respectively.

The 2020/2021 Under 19 girls’ tournament was held with a participation of 20 teams and Devapathiraja College, Ambalangoda emerged the winner by beating Wadduwa Central College in the final.

Nethmi Senaratne scored 274 runs across the tournament to top the table of leading run-scorers while Samadhi Nethmini topped the wicket-taking charts with 14 scalps to her name.

The traditional big match season was also interrupted due to Covid 19 pandemic situation although a few battles took place this year. The Battle of Ruhuna the traditional encounter between St. Thomas’ College, Matara, and St. Servatius’ College, Matara was the first big match that took place followed by the Royal-Thomian (Battle of Blues) and the Joe-Pete (Battle of Saints) with both matches ending in draws.

The Battle of the Golds between Sri Sumangala College and Moratu Vidyalaya also ended in a draw and this match was marked as the final big match clash of the year with the Battle of Maroons (Ananda-Nalanda), The Lovers’ Quarrel (Richmond-Mahinda), the Battle of North (St. John’s and Jaffna Central) and the Trinity-Antonian being some of the other big matches not played.

It was not the most perfect and successful season, but certainly a season to be remembered and cherished.

The same structure of the previous season’s tournament will continue in the 2021-22 season where the Divisional 50-over tournament will start in March and teams like St. Joseph’s College, Royal College, Ananda College and Nalanda College will field sides that are expected to be more competitive.

There is also good news for junior players as the Under-15 and 17 segments will also be played after a lapse of two years. Also on the cards is the Provincial Under-19 tournament meaning a more interesting season is down for decision and the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association hopes that the 2022-23 season will mark the recommencement of the traditional two-day matches between schools.

Nishantha Kumara, the tournament director of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association said that Sri Lanka Cricket will ensure that all the necessities and guidance will be in place to conduct the new season.