After Madugalle, Ranatunga, Jayasuriya and Atapattu... : Chandimal, fifth past winner to lead Lanka in Tests

Stylish middle order batsman Dinesh Chandimal, the 2009 Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year who was appointed the new Sri Lanka Test captain last week, is the fifth winner of the Mega Award to lead the Sri Lanka national team at the highest level.

Prior to the new appointment, Chandimal, has captained Sri Lanka at the T20 World Cup but the ongoing first Test against Zimbabwe is his maiden appearance as Test captain. Thus, he joins the select band of past award winners who had the honour of leading Sri Lanka Test team.

The winners of the All-Island title Ranjan Madugalle (1979), Arjuna Ranatunga (1980 and 1982) and Marvan Atapattu (1990) and the 1988 winner of the Outstation Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title Sanath Jayasuriya have captained Sri Lanka in both Tests and ODIs while two-time winner (1983 and 1984) Roshan Mahanama had led Sri Lanka in ODIs.

15th Sri Lanka Test captain

Born on November 18, 1989 at Balapitiya, former Ananda captain turned Sri Lanka cap Chandimal became the 15th Sri Lanka Test captain since Bandula Warnapura to lead the national team at the inaugural Test against England at Saravanamuttu Stadium in 1982.

Interestingly, the first-ever recipient of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 1979 Madugalle is among those distinguished group of cricketers who had the honour of leading the Sri Lanka Test team.

Chandimal was chosen for the top job after the resignation of Angelo Mathews who stepped down from captaincy following Sri Lanka’s humiliating defeat to Zimbabwe in the five-match ODI series which concluded last week.

The 27-year-old wicket-keeper batsman has always been a top contender for the Sri Lanka captaincy, considering the fact that he has been groomed for the top job. Although he has been undergoing a lean patch which kept him out of the recent ODI series against Zimbabwe, Chandimal has already proved his credentials in both forms of the game.

Prior to the current first Test against Zimbabwe at Premadasa Stadium, Chandimal has represented Sri Lanka in 36 Tests, aggregating 2,540 runs at an average of 42.33. He has cracked eight centuries and 11 fifties with a career best knock of 162 not out. He has also aggregated 3,211 runs in 128 ODIs, averaging 33.44 with four centuries and 21 fifties.

In fact, Chandimal had the honour of making a sensational Test debut, scoring twin half centuries six years ago. Making his Test debut against South Africa at the 2011 Boxing Day Test in Durban, merely two years after becoming the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, Chandimal made 58 in the first innings (off 86 balls in 141 minutes with seven fours) and 54 in the second (off 92 balls in 92 minutes, also with seven boundaries) as Sri Lanka registered a memorable 208-run victory.

Captaincy is nothing new for Chandimal since his school days. He had been one of the most successful captains in local school cricket history, leading his alma mater Ananda College to record number of outright victories in 2008/ 2009 seasons.

But Chandimal faces a gigantic task in putting the house in order with his young team which does not have too many big names. Yet, he is capable of rising to the occasion and showing Sri Lanka the winning way once more. “I want to take this team and Sri Lanka forward. Hence, I will put my heart and soul effort,” Chandimal was quoted as saying after he was chosen for the new role. “I am thankful to what Angie (Mathews) has done for the team.

Captaincy is not an easy job and he was an excellent leader for us over the past four-and-a-half years. He is a terrific batsman and a match-winner. I have huge hopes that he will continue to be one in the coming years as well,” he had said.

Ranatunga, most Test as captain

Out of all 15 past Sri Lanka Test captains, 1980 and 1982 Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, Ranatunga had the honour of leading the national team in most number of Tests – 56, out of which Sri Lanka has won 12 and lost 19 with the rest drawn. Past Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year (Outstation), Jayasuriya shares the record for the second most successful Sri Lanka Test captain with Mahela Jayawardene – 47.36% with the identical record of 18 wins and 12 defeats in 38 matches each as captain. Veteran spinner Rangana Herath who had led Sri Lanka in only four Tests enjoys the highest success rate of 75.00%, having won three of them.

Nine days more

The 1990 Observer Schoolboy Cricketer main title winner Atapattu is the fourth most successful Sri Lanka Test captain after Herath, Jayasuriya and Jayawardene.

Having led Sri Lanka in 18 Tests, Atapattu has a success rate of 44.44% with eight wins and six defeats. Meanwhile, the heat is on as the latest edition of the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year will be unveiled in nine days’ time.. The stage is set for the grand finale of the 39th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, which will be held at Galadari Hotel, Colombo on July 25, 2017.

Talking about the success story of the Mega Show, one cannot forget the lavish contribution made by its principal sponsor SLT Mobitel, which has provided financial support for the past decade. SLT Mobitel’s entry to foster school cricket with the Lake House, has taken the event towards new horizons with improved standards.

CEO of SLT Mobitel Nalin Perera, under the blessings of the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Telecom Kumarasinghe Sirisena, has shown a keen interest in taking the event towards greater heights. 


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