It’s an honour to win the Most Popular title - Anuda | Daily News
42nd Observer-Mobitel School Cricketer of the Year contest:

It’s an honour to win the Most Popular title - Anuda

Anuda  Jayaweera
Anuda Jayaweera

The Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2020, Anuda Jayaweera of Ananda College, Colombo 10 said he was honoured to be voted for the award, which he thinks should be a new chapter in his cricketing career.

In an interview after the title was decided last week, the 18-year-old Ananda opener said his next aim is to emerge the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year.

“I can play one final season for Ananda. I want to make it even more colourful by winning the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title next season. If l could do that, it would be a more creditable achievement,” he said.

“My initial target is to have a highly successful season as an opening batsman next season. I want to be among the first, if not the first, to complete 1,000 runs next season. That would take me even closer to the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title in 2021,”Jayaweera said.

He said Ananda College present and old boys rallied round by voting in their numbers during the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year 2020 contest.

His hopes for the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year raised only halfway though the season.

“Half way through the voting, there were some hopes for me. I must be thankful to all those who voted for me for this memorable title. In return, I want to make my school proud with the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year title next season,” he said.

The heavy polling in the first term had a temporary shutdown in the last week of March due to Covid-19 pandemic. But once it was overcome after a short break, the voting gathered its momentum again until the close.

In the last ten days of voting up to the finish, it once again slowed down. But by then, most of the top contenders maintained their lead till the finish line.

So far, seven Anandians have won the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year main title on nine years with two double winners. Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga won the prestigious title in 1980 and 1982.

The other Anandians who won the title are his younger brother Sanjeewa Ranatunga (1988), former Sri Lanka captain and coach Marvan Atapattu (1990), Thilan Samaraweera (1994 and 1995), Muthumudalige Pushpakumara (1999), Malith Gunatilleke (2007) and one time Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal (2009).

Born on July 17, 2002, the game was introduced to Jayaweera at the tender age of five years. “I was in grade one when my father found me accommodation at the NCC Cricket Academy. That was a superb start for me to be in perfect shape by the time I began competitive cricket with the Ananda Under-13 team,” Jayaweera recalled the beginnings of his career.

Next year will be a crucial one for Jayaweera who will be playing is his final First X1 season for Ananda while also facing the GCE Advanced Level examination. Despite devoting most of his time to cricket, he passed his GCE O/L with seven distinctions and two credits.

He is also a versatile student at Ananda, indulging in several extra curricular activities. He is also the Secretary of the Ananda College Broadcasting Unit for 2020/ 2021 and has won the award for the best announcer in the same year. He is also the Chief Organizer of the Ananda College Archeological Association, in addition to his roles as college Drama circle member and Gavel club member.

Jayaweera polled a staggering 83,897 votes to be the clear winner and become the 2020 Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest.

However he fell short of the all-time record of the highest 100,000 plus votes polled by former Sri Lanka cricketer and Royalist Ramith Rambukwella who became the Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 2011. However, Jayaweera had a clear lead of 6,806 votes over Royalist Ahan Wickramasinghe.

Second-placed Wickramasinghe polled 77,091, as Jayaweera emerged comfortable leader. Lohan de Soyza of Dharmasoka College who went down to third place about a couple weeks ago, finished there with 75,611 votes.

In the fourth place of the final line up was Shehan Fernando of St. Benedict’s College with 73,219 votes, followed by Sukitha Manoj of St. Sebastian’s College with 69,304 votes.

Jayaweera had a memorable season last year with a century against St. Joseph’s and 115 against Nalanda in the mini battle. He earned a permanent place in the First X1 side.

In his superb First X1 season this year, he scored 94 against Dharmasoka and 86 against S. Thomas’. He was picked as the best batsman in the Marvan Atapattu-Mahinda Halangoda annual encounter played at the SSC ground this year.

His cracking form this season earned him selection to represent Ananda in the Battle of the Maroons big match against Nalanda. Jayaweera has been an outstanding cricketer produced by Ananda, playing Under-13, U-15, U-17 and U-19 cricket for his alma mater.

The winners of the 42nd Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year will receive their glittering trophies at the grand finale to be held shortly.

The grand finale of the Mega Show was originally scheduled to be held at the BMICH on November 18, but now postponed due to the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic.

This year’s 42nd Observer-Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy and Schoolgirl Cricketers of the Year contests were twice hit by the Covid-19 epidemic which slowed down the voting. Nevertheless, it ultimately gathered its usual tempo by the end.

The 42nd Observer-Mobitel School Cricketer of the Year 2020 is organized by Sri Lanka’s flagship English newspaper the Sunday Observer and sponsored by the country’s national mobile service provider Sri Lanka Telecom Mobitel. The ANCL Chairman and board of management have always given their best possible support to keep the Mega Show alive and kicking.

Sri Lanka’s flagship English newspaper - the Sunday Observer, understood the need to recognize the raw talent of the country’s schoolboy cricketers at a time when there had been no organized inter-school cricket tournaments, apart from the traditional First XI matches of the so-called leading schools.

But the introduction of the show and its expansion to have a separate segment for outstation schoolboy cricketers went a long way in inspiring the talented cricketers in the far flung areas.

Under the directions of the Chairman of Sri Lanka Telecom and SLT Mobitel Rohan Fernando, the Chief Executive Officer of the 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 Shammi Silva, the Observer-Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year contest has gone from strength to strength.

Over the past 42 years, all top Sri Lanka cricketers have commended the exemplary role played by the Observer-Mobitel School Cricketer of the Year.

Chairman/ CEO of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd, President’s Counsel W. Dayaratne, together with Director Editorial Dharma Sri Kariyawasam, Director Legal and Administration Rakhitha Abeygunawardhana, Director Finance Janaka Ranatunga and Director Operations Canishka Witharana have helped this show to go from strength to strength.