Dinesh Chandimal (2009), Niroshan Dickwella (2012) and Kusal Mendis (2013): Three past winners in Sri Lanka squad to Champions Trophy

Three past winners of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year main title are among the 15 national players who have been included in the 15-member Sri Lanka squad for the ICC Champions trophy tournament which begins in England on June 1.

The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year stars who will add power to the Lankan squad for the eight-nation tournament are former Sri Lanka T20 captain Dinesh Chandimal, wicket-keeper batsmen Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis.

Chandimal is the most experienced of the three, winning the prestigious Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 2009 when he was representing Ananda College, Colombo. Former captain of Trinity College, Kandy, Dickwella won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 2012. Ex-Cambrian skipper Kusal Mendis won the coveted title in 2013 and in the same year, he was chosen to captain Sri Lanka Under-19 team to Bangladesh.

The team to England will be accompanied by another past winner of the most sought after title in school cricket - Asanka Gurusinha who functions as cricket manager of the national team. Gurusinha, who played a notable role in Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup triumph, won the main title in 1985 when he was representing Nalanda. Interestingly, yet another past award winner is serving as the Chairman of Selectors – Sanath Jayasuriya, who won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year (Outstation) title when he was representing St. Servatius College, Matara in 1988.

Sri Lanka, drawn in group ‘B’ will play their first match of the ICC Champions Trophy tournament against South Africa at Kennington Oval in London on June 3. Besides the opener, Lanka’s other first round matches in group ‘B’ will be against India (on June 8 at Kennington Oval in London) and Pakistan (on June 12 at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff).

Twenty seven-year-old Chandimal has represented Sri Lanka in 125 ODIs to aggregate 3,199 runs with an average of 34.03. He has scored four ODI centuries and 21 fifties with a career best knock of 111.

Like most other past recipients of the prestigious title, Chandimal made his Sri Lanka debut just months after he was crowned the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 2009. He did not get an opportunity for a long innings - made an unbeaten 10 on his ODI debut for Sri Lanka against Zimbabwe in Bulawayo on June 1, 2010, as the visitors had a nine-wicket victory.

Chandimal is one of the most promising young batsmen who had stepped into the Sri Lanka team in recent times. He is a technically sound batsman who is capable of hitting the ball to all corners of the ground with a wide range of strokes. Ever since his Sri Lanka debut, he has shown maturity at the crease with a good temperament to build and pace an innings. He is in fine form, stroking an unbeaten 113 to pilot Colombo for an easy 137-run victory over Galle in the Super Inter-Provincial limited over tournament final at Premadasa Stadium a fortnight ago.

Dickwella, one of the most successful Trinity captains and a reliable top order batsman , came to the big league after winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title five years ago – having scored over 1,000 runs in the previous season.

He is an attacking left-handed wicketkeeper-batsman. Dickwella, who turns 24 later next month, has been particularly impressive in limited-overs cricket, ever since he scored an explosive 104 off 91 balls in the final of the Inter-Provincial One-Day Tournament in 2013.Just months after winning the main title at the Mega Show, Dickwella was called to represent Sri Lanka ‘A’ in its tour of England in 2013. Since then, he has proved his class both as a top order batsman with safe hands behind the stumps.

Having made his Sri Lanka debut in 2014 against India in Ranchi, Dickwella has represented Sri Lanka in 11 ODIs to aggregate 380 runs with an average of 38.00. He has scored three half centuries with a career best ODI innings of 94.

Mendis, who had scored many match-winning innings for Prince of Wales before he was adjudged the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 2013, too has shown good form with the willow. Even before he had stepped into the national team, his aggressive batting had earned him a large following. As a safe wicketkeeper and dependable right-hand batsman with an attacking style, Mendis has often let his willow to do the talking. Just months after winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title four years ago, he was appointed Sri Lanka’s under-19 captain for the Youth World Cup.

He made his Sri Lanka debut with a blistering half century – scoring 51 off 59 balls with eight boundaries in Sri Lanka’s first ODI against Ireland in Dublin on June 16 last year. Since then, Mendis has figured in 25 ODIs for Sri Lanka to aggregate 845 runs at an average of 36.73. He has one century and nine fifties to his credit with a career best knock of 102.

Hence, the three Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year top award winners are set to make their presence felt in the forthcoming Champions Trophy tournament. SLT Mobitel, the national mobile service provider, continues to provide that ‘smart connection’ to the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Contest.

Under the directions of the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Telecom and SLT Mobitel P.G. Kumarasingha, the Chief Executive Officer of the SLT Mobitel Nalin Perera has made a great contribution towards the success of the event during the past decade. The Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year continues to enjoy the longstanding association of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA) and the Sri Lanka Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association under the blessings of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC). 

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