Sajith Fernando deserved more than he got | Daily News

Sajith Fernando deserved more than he got

After Sanjeewa Ranatunga (1988), Kumar Dharmasena (1989), Marvan Atapattu (1990) and Muttiah Muralitharan (1991) marked the second glorious era in Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year series, Sajith Fernando won the next big time winner in 1992.
After Sanjeewa Ranatunga (1988), Kumar Dharmasena (1989), Marvan Atapattu (1990) and Muttiah Muralitharan (1991) marked the second glorious era in Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year series, Sajith Fernando won the next big time winner in 1992.

Last year’s Observer SLT Mobitel Most Popular Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year, Sadisha Rajapaksa has been included in the Sri Lanka Under-19 team which will tour England from next week. This was after a highly successful inter-school for Royal this year too.

In his last outing for Royal this season, he produced a superb performance with the bat and ball to guide his team to a convincing eight-wicket win over S. Thomas in their 45th Mustangs Trophy encounter at the SSC ground last week.

Rajapakse (2 for 45) and Damith Kappagoda (2 for 19) produced two lovely spells as Royal restricted their opponents to an unimpressive 190 for 8 wickets in 50 overs. Mahith Perera (52 n.o) and Muizz Naushan (50) scored half centuries but that could not save S. Thomas’.

Sri Lanka Under-19 cap Rajapakse cracked an unbeaten 69 and shared an unfinished 66-run third wicket stand with Uvindu Weerasekara (35 not out).

Royal made a convincing 191 for 2 wickets to taste victory in 42.3 overs as Rajapakse was adjudged man of the match. This was following his fine performance to win the best fielder’s award at the Battle of the Blues match in the previous week.

Meanwhile, selections for the 44th Observer SLT Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year will be held shortly.

After Sanjeewa Ranatunga (1988), Kumar Dharmasena (1989), Marvan Atapattu (1990) and Muttiah Muralitharan (1991) marked the second glorious era in Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year series, Sajith Fernando won the next big time winner in 1992.

His willow did the talking, scoring nine centuries in two years – five in 1991 and four in 1992. During his impressive school career, Fernando scored five centuries to fully endorse his batting status to win the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer Best batsman award in 1991.

But he did even better in the following year (1992) scoring 1,000 runs for the season with four centuries and captured 100 wickets to win the top award in school cricket - the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1992. Thus, Fernando, born on September 27, 1972, became only the second cricketer from the hill capital to win the big award after Muralidaran.

Despite his strong performances with Sri Lanka ‘A’ teams and Board XIs whenever a Test or representative team visited Sri Lanka or whenever a Sri Lanka ‘A’ or under-23 team toured overseas, he failed to catch the eyes of Test selectors.

The left-hand opening batsman scored over 10,000 first class runs and also served as the head coach of S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia too. He was also member of the Sri Lanka Under-19 team, led by Anandian Sachithra Alexander that toured England in 1992.

The Lankan Under-19 team included players of the calibre of Chaminda Vaas and Russel Arnold and Sajith Fernando was awarded the most outstanding contributor on the tour. The same year he was a member of the Sri Lanka ‘A’ team which took part in the SAARC cricket tournament. He toured South Africa with the Sri Lanka Under-24 team which was led by Sanath Jayasuriya in 1993.

This was to be the first ever official tour made by a Sri Lanka team. He was also the deputy skipper of the Under-24 team against South Africa and later led the team in the final Test match and two ODI matches. He was a member of the Sri Lanka cricket team led by Marvan Atapattu that took part in the Hong Kong Sixes and the TNT Worldwide Cricket Sixes held in Singapore where they emerged champions in both tournaments in 1995.

Also in 1995, he represented the Central Province in the Inter-Provincial Cricket Tournament and was judged the most promising player and the player of the province in this tournament. He went on to lead the Colts Under-24 cricket team and guided them to victory. Fernando also represented the Beenleigh Logan CC in Brisbane and on his return he was given the responsibility of leading the Sri Lanka ‘A’ side against the South African counterparts.

He was adjudged the man of the series in the Premier limited over tournament in 1998 when Colts emerged champions and was a member of the champion Colts team which emerged Premier League champions in the year 2000 and 2002. After a stint with Colts CC and Tamil Union, he was successful in guiding his side to become the Premier limited over champions of the 2009/10 cricket season.

Fernando also played for various clubs overseas in Australia, England and Bangladesh. His stint in these countries gave him an opportunity to qualify as a Level One coach of Cricket Australia and Level II coach of the English Cricket Board.

Meanwhile, it is interesting to go down memory lane and find out what some of the Sri Lanka cricketers of yesteryear feel about the Observer SLT Mobitel Schools Cricketer of the Year contest. ICC Chief Match Referee and former Sri Lanka captain Ranjan Madugalle said the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited and Sunday Observer should be complimented for keeping the show going for all these years. “Sponsors are essential. May the show continue for many years” he said.

He said that in the past most of the winners of the top awards came from Colombo and its suburbs, but now the outstation schools have come in a big way and it is a good sign for the game.

Ex-Sri Lanka captain and former Chairman of Selectors Sanath Jayasuriya said that it was one of the best things that happened to him in 1988 when he won the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in the Outstation section. Jayasuriya said playing for St. Servatius’ College, Matara brought him immense joy.

He said that school cricketers must be motivated and added that school cricket has helped him a great deal and the much needed push ahead was at St. Servatius’ College, Matara. “I must thank the Sunday Observer for giving Matara schools and school cricketers the push”.

Thilan Samaraweera, twice winner of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Award 1994-1995, said he owes his climb to the top due to the encouragement given by the contest of this nature. Thilan who won the contest in 1994 and 1995, also won the Best Batsman and Best All-rounder on both occasions. He endorsed this long-standing contest as the best for schoolboy cricketers.

Muttiah Muralitharan the world’s leading Test wicket taker had this to say: “A contest of this nature means a lot to young cricketers. When I was picked as the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 1991, it gave me a lot of satisfaction and spurred me on and I am now where I am because of inter-school cricket and the encouragement it gave me.”

Kumar Dharmasena, member of 1996 World Cup winning team, presently ICC Test umpire said that he must congratulate ANCL and the Sunday Observer for keeping the show going for over four decades.

Dharmasena who won the contest in 1989 while playing for Nalanda, added that sponsors are vital for the progress of sports in any country and ANCL has taken the lead that helps the authorities to build up the youth. Development of youth is very important as the youth are the ones who will take the country forward, he said.

 


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