Recalling Dickwella and the brothers who saved a grieving match

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Niroshan Dickwella gave a timely reminder to the national selectors when he hit 83 from 73 to lead Sri Lanka’s A side to a stunning four-wicket victory over Australia’s A side in their second unofficial ODI played on the SSC field on Friday.

He was immediately included in Sri Lanka’s 21-member squad for the next five-game ODI series against the touring Australians, along with former captain Dinesh Chandimal who also won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 2009.

Opening the innings after a delay, Dickwella was at his best with an excellent power play during his innings which included a six and ten fours.

Exactly ten years ago, Dickwella won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 2012 after a splendid school season at Trinity College Kandy.

Trinity Lion Dickwella is another talented promising cricketer for Sri Lankan cricket in the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year competition, who has remained the undisputed leader in schoolboy cricket awards for over four decades.

The unorthodox left-wing wicket-keeper made his Test debut as early as July 2014 – at the age of 21. But in his half-century debut, Dickwella couldn’t hold his own for long. His second return to international cricket in 2017 brought better success with impressive sweeps, scoops and ramp shots.

The exceptional Trinity Lion has so far represented Sri Lanka in 49 Tests, scoring 2,602 runs in 20 half-centuries with a maximum score of 96, averaging 32.52. In 53 ODI he has totaled 1,578 carries with two centuries and nine half tons averaging 32.20 which gives him an impressive strike rate of 93.48.

In the past, there is another talented cricketer who went on to represent Sri Lanka after graduating from the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer Stadium. Former Sri Lanka batsman and current Ananda College head coach Sanjeeva Ranatunga says cricket schoolboys should only play for the love of the game while coaches should refrain from trying to win at all costs.

In a recent interview with the Sunday Observer, the former Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year said everyone should bear in mind that it’s not winning or losing that matters, but how to play the game. .

“These unsportsmanlike practices are ruining the game. We must stop it immediately. During our playing era, these ugly practices have never been witnessed,” said Ranatunga who began a stint at his alma mater as an honorary head coach a few years ago.

Ranatunga said he wanted to become an Observer Schoolboy Cricketer after watching his elder brother Arjuna achieve glory for the second time in 1982.

“I was there to see my eldest brother win this unique title once again, coming off a cricket ball. It inspired me that I too should do the same. I just missed it in 1987 , finishing second behind Rohan Weerakkody, but I achieved the cherished dream the following year,” he said.

“We remember coaches like Lionel Mendis with deep gratitude. They taught us not only the beautiful game of cricket but also its values. Thus, we were interested in building teams with values, not in winning at all costs. like most of them do now,” he said.

Ranatunga became the sixth Anandian to win the prestigious Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year award in 1988. He played just eight games excluding the big game out of 12 while playing for the youth team of the Sri Lanka in 1988, but still totaled 900 games. -more runs.

The left-handed star batsman had the honor of leading Sri Lanka’s ‘A’ team and also represented the country in Tests and one-day internationals.

He made his test debut for Sri Lanka on August 26, 1994 in Kandy against Pakistan. His short career of nine Tests had only a total of 531 races, but included two centuries and an equal number of fifty.

Ranatunga’s ODI debut for Sri Lanka came days before the tests, on 3 August 1994 also against Pakistan. His career-best runs in Tests were 118 while his best ODI shot was 70.

“I really earned my place in form in Zimbabwe. I scored a century in the three-day training match and they were forced to secure my place in the test squad,” he said. -he declares.

“The two test centuries I scored in Zimbabwe were just awesome. The penultimate day was disappointing on and off the pitch as the Cricket Board Chairman at the time, Minister Gamini Dissanayake, had died. We wanted to save the game for him,” he recalls.

“We all wanted to save the game on the last day. Also, my brother (Arjuna) told me not to go back to the locker room until I completed a century and I just did,” he said.

Still, he recalled the fifty-something twins he scored in the Adelaide test as his best. “Comparatively, it was in more difficult circumstances against a much superior Australian bowling attack,” he pointed out.

The talented top left-handed batsman who celebrated his 53rd birthday on April 25 has had a rich harvest of club cricket runs. Unlike his famous older brother Arjuna, Sanjeewa barely achieved a power six internationally, but he was a talented left-handed batsman domestically.

He scored numerous points at the interscholastic level for Ananda to be named Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1988, six years after his older brother became the first to win the title twice. He went on to represent Sri Lanka ‘A’ on several occasions after which he was selected for the home series against Pakistan in 1994.

Sanjeewa Ranatunga started well in the one-day series, scoring 70 just in his second game. However, his form later dropped and he played the last of his 13 ODIs in January 1996.

But he showed more promise in Test cricket, with consecutive centuries in Zimbabwe in his second and third matches – his average after seven Tests was 59.71 – and had the chance to tour Nova Scotia. Zealand, Pakistan and Australia.

Unfortunately, international cricket proved a difficult hurdle and he was dismissed. A somewhat controversial call-up took place in June 1997, for Sri Lanka’s tour of the West Indies, but one bad match ruined his international career.

In the meantime, the 2021/2022 interschool season is coming to an end with the big games. The Observer-SLT Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year will take place soon for the 44th year. One of the top performers in the Observer-SLT Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year series was Sanjeewa Ranatunga’s older brother – Arjuna, the World Cup winning captain of Sri Lanka.

More than any past winner, Arjuna Ranatunga has maintained a strong affiliation with the oldest and only unbroken school awards ceremony since winning the first award in 1980 – some 43 years ago.

He became the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer for the second time during his senior year at Ananda College in 1982.

Since then, Ranatunga has made a habit of being at the Mega Show whenever possible, regardless of the main guest. But finally, Arjuna Ranatunga became the main guest of the 43rd Observer-SLT Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year Show last year.

It is a unique and humble quality shown by Ranatunga, always giving that vital encouragement to the next generation of cricketers. This is something that cannot be seen in most legendary cricketers of his caliber.

Thus, the Ranatunga brothers – Arjuna and Sanjeewa, became the only brothers to take pride of place in the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year series.

The Observer SLT Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year has now completed 44 successful years. When he completed his 40s four years ago, he had the most fitting chief guest – the winner of the first-ever title in 1979 – the then Royal College captain and current Umpire-in-Chief of the ICC Ranjan Madugalle.

A special award for the best behaved team on and off the pitch was introduced in the series on a proposal made by Madugalle in 2013. Incidentally, former Sri Lankan captain Madugalle reached a golden milestone in his career completing 200 Test matches and still continues as Chief Referee of ICC Matches.

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