Mega Show gets Jayasuriya bouquet : ‘Schoolboy cricketer title inspired me to go places’ | Sunday Observer

Mega Show gets Jayasuriya bouquet : ‘Schoolboy cricketer title inspired me to go places’

Sanath Jayasuriya
Sanath Jayasuriya

Former Sri Lanka captain and ex-chairman of selectors Sanath Jayasuriya said the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title would take outstanding young players closer to the Sri Lanka ‘cap’.

Commending the Sunday Observer for conducting the event for 40 long years, the explosive former Sri Lanka batsman said the mega title he won in 1988 as an emerging player from St. Servatius College, Matara was a great source of encouragement and inspiration.

Recalling his early days as a schoolboy cricketer at St. Servatius, Jayasuriya said winning the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title has been and is the dream of every schoolboy cricketer from the good old days.

“When I won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year outstation title, I thought I should stand a greater chance of playing for Sri Lanka, if I continue to focus on the game with dedication and devotion. It inspired me to go places,” Jayasuriya recalled.

“Once you win this coveted title, you only need commitment and dedication to find a place in the Sri Lanka team,” told the Sunday Observer in an interview.

Jayasuriya said that the country’s school cricket structure, once considered to be the best in the world, needs a complete overhaul to meet today’s challenges.

The winner of the prestigious Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year (Outstation) award in 1988, Jayasuriya said the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA) and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) should make a joint effort to uplift the standard of local school cricket.

The master blaster who was adjudged the Most Valuable Player of the Series in Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup triumph said the new Under-19 tournament structure of the SLSCA should be reviewed to focus more on producing quality cricketers to the national pool.

“In our era, we only had 12 first X1 inter-school matches. But now, some schools play over 20 inter-school matches in each season, including their third term matches. That’s too much. Scoring 1,000 runs in 20 to 24 matches in not a big deal, compared to the 10 to 12 matches most school played in the past,” he warned.

“I’m not saying the present tournament structure is bad. It has given an opportunity to some top school teams in the outstations to play against the leading Colombo schools. That’s a positive sign. But at the same time, I have some concern about the competitiveness and standard of cricket that is dished out in some matches,” he said.

“We see too much of school cricket now – so many matches for a team to honour during a season. That does not sound good for the game. I think the school cricket authorities have been working on to overcome these problems. They have a big responsibility and a big role to play to further improve our school cricket standards,” Jayasuriya said.

However, the former chief selector said the standard of the country’s school cricket has not dropped. “I don’t think that the standard has dropped. It has not improved from the level it was, compared to other teams in the world. It has stagnated, instead of going further up from the point

we were. We must pay attention to that,” he added.

“When Sri Lanka’s school cricket structure and the standard was considered to be the best in the world a couple of decades back, India was far below us. But now, India has a good under-19 structure. A couple of other Test nations have made vast improvements in their youth teams. We need to change our strategies and restructure our tournament to meet the future challenges in cricket,” Jayasuriya said.

Paying a glowing tribute to the Sunday Observer and Lake House for conducting the country’s first-ever school cricket awards show for four decades, Jayasuriya said every schoolboy who wins the prestigious Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award stands a good chance of representing the country, if they continue the game with dedication.

“If you win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award, you stand a big chance of playing for Sri Lanka in the near future. It is not easy to win that award, score over 1000 runs or capture over 100 wickets. When you see the star schoolboy cricketers who had won this prestigious award in the past, it is evident that most of them have ended up with the national team and underlined their supremacy in the international arena. This title takes talented schoolboy cricketers a step towards a place in the Sri Lanka team,” Jayasuriya said.

Jayasuriya, who has aggregated 13,430 runs including 28 centuries and 68 fifties and captured 323 wickets in 445 ODIs, said the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title is something unique and a cherished moment that any schoolboy cricketer could ever dream of.

“It has remained the dream of every schoolboy cricketer then and now. Everybody knows that this award would make a schoolboy cricketer take a giant leap forward. It inspires you to do well when you step into club cricket from school level and to the national team thereafter,” said the star batsman who had made an immense contribution to Sri Lanka cricket.

The 48-year-old one dashing dashing opener, who introduced the art of pinch -hitting during the 1996 World Cup tournament and underlined his supremacy as one of the best batsman in world cricket, has proved his class at Test cricket as well. Apart from his grand triple of 13,430 runs, 323 wickets and 123 catches to become probably the best ODI all-rounder ever in world cricket,

Jayasuriya had also been a classy batsman in the five-day Test game.

With a career-best innings of 340 against India, Jayasuriya has aggregated 6973 runs in 110 Tests, scoring 14 centuries and 31 half tons.

Meanwhile, voting for the most popular segments of the 40th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest, conducted under three divisions, has reached its final lap with the traditional big match season. Voting coupons for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy

Cricketer of the Year contest continue to appear in the Daily News, Sunday Observer, Dinamina and Thinakaran.

Sri Lanka’s national mobile service provider, Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel continues to provide that ‘smart connection’ to the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest for the 11th successive year. Under the directions of the Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom and SLT Mobitel PG

Kumarasinghe, the Chief Executive Officer of SLT Mobitel, Nalin Perera has made a lavish contribution towards the success of the event during the past decade.

Thanks to the longstanding association of the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA), the Sri Lanka Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), headed by Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala, the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest has gone from strength to strength. 

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