The 2021-2022 inter-school under-19 season main matches will end with the conclusion of the 143rd Battle of the Blues between Royal and S. Thomas’ at the SSC ground, Colombo. Following Nalanda’s memorable win over Ananda in the Battle of the Maroons big match after almost seven decades, the Battle of the Saints between St. Joseph’s and St. Peter’s ended in a draw this week. Opener Sadeesh Jayawardena stroked an unbeaten 103 for St. Joseph’s while St Peter’s College took major honours in their drawn encounter played at the P Sara Oval.
The brightest moment in former Observer-SLT Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Dinesh Chandimal’s Test career was witnessed at the Galle International Stadium last week. He produced a magnificent unbeaten double century – the first by a Sri Lankan against Australia, to pilot the home team to a convincing innings victory with more than a day to spare. A brave 206 not out by Chandimal and a dream debut match bag of 12 wickets for 177 by Prabath Jayasuriya guided Sri Lanka to an innings win. It was Sri Lanka’s first-ever innings victory against Australia in Test cricket.
The 2021-2022 inter-school under-19 cricket season will conclude this month with the three key big matches – the Battle of the Saints between St. Joseph’s and St. Peter’s, the Battle of the Maroons between Ananda and Nalanda and the Battle of the Blues between Royal and S. Thomas’. Normally, these big matches have been scheduled for March every year but the vacuum created due to Covid-19 pandemic, the school season has still not settled.
Former Observer Schoolboy Cricketer Kusal Mendis said that Sri Lanka has a good chance to win the five-match ODI series against Australia. Sri Lanka’s 26-run win in Friday’s second ODI enabled them to level the series one-all with the third of the five matches scheduled for today at the Premadasa Stadium. Mendis, who plays as wicket keeper batsman, said he is delighted over performance in the first ODI. He said Sri Lanka made a few mistakes in the opening game but quickly bounced back in the next game.
Niroshan Dickwella gave a timely reminder to the national selectors when he cracked a timely 83 off 73 balls to lead Sri Lanka A team to a superb four-wicket win over Australia A team in their second unofficial ODI played at the SSC ground on Friday. He was immediately included in the 21-member Sri Lanka squad for the forthcoming five-match ODI series against the touring Australians, along with former captain Dinesh Chandimal who too has won the Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year in 2009.
Former Observer SLT Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year Nipun Ransika produced a sensational bowling spell to guide Sri Lanka Emerging team to a convincing 67-run win against Gloucestershire in their T-20 cricket match played at Bristol, England last weekend. The win enabled the Sri Lanka Emerging team to end their month long tour with a winning note. The Sri Lankan team played three four-day games and three T20s on tour but only managed a solitary win over Gloucestershire to end the tour on a winning note.
Yet another product of the Observer SLT Mobtel School Cricketers of the Year contest proved his might in international cricket last week. It was only a few years ago that Asitha Fernando of St Sebastian’s College, Katuneriya stole the limelight by winning the best bowler’s award at the Observer SLT Mobtel School Cricketers of the Year show. Last Friday in Minpur, the 24-year-old finished with an excellent match bag of ten wickets, leading Sri Lanka to a superb win over Bangladesh in the second Test. His match bag of 10 for 144 not only led Sri Lanka to a ten-wicket win but also gave his team a sweet 1-0 win in the two-Test series after the drawn first Test.
The third month of the 44th Observer-SLT Mobitel School Cricketers of the Year Most Popular contest has gathered momentum. Ever since the launch of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year contest in 1978, the Mega Show has turned out to be the most looked forward to event by school cricketers. Not only school cricketers but also by the old boys of the respective schools and sports enthusiasts who have made it a fashion. The event is sponsored by SLT Mobitel which has been providing its financial support for the past 15 years.
The only under-19 inter-school cricket encounter which went uninterrupted during the 2020-21 Covid-19 pandemic – the Battle of the Blues Royal-Thomian, will be played from July 7 to 9 this year. Now that the threat posed by the pandemic is gradually fading away here, the joint organizing committee expects to have a better crowd. Hence, the picturesque SSC ground which has hosted the Battle of the Blues encounter in recent times is likely to be the popular venue. The 2020 Battle of the Blues encounter had a close call as the country was locked down due to the Covid-19 pandemic immediately after the third day two years ago.
The inter-school Under-19 First X1 cricket season is reaching an interesting stage with the big matches about to start. Although the big match season is customarily held in March every year, the age old customs went for a six with the Covid-19 pandemic. Soon after the Battle of the Blues big match between Royal and S. Thomas’ in mid-March in 2020, not only all sports but all day to day activities of the entire world were curtailed. Most big matches last year were not played though a few matches including the Battle of the Blues were played but several months behind the schedule. Hence, the more than a century old custom of having March as the big match month took a back seat.