|Umesh Karunaratne -first Thurstanite to win coveted Observer -Mobitel award|
CRICKET AWARDS: Two captains - Umesh Karunaratne of Thurstan College and Dinesh Perera of Tissa MMV, Kalutara, both fine allrounders, were the proud winners of the two main awards in the 30th Observer-Mobitel Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year All-Island and Outstation awards respectively at the awards ceremony held on Friday night.
Umesh Karunaratne - the Captain of Thurstan College was the Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year All-Island and Dinesh Perera was the winner of the Outstation Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year.
They were picked by the panel of umpires from the Association of Cricket Umpires (Sri Lanka), Central Province Cricket Umpires Association, Southern Province Cricket Umpires Association and Association of Cricket Umpires, Sri Lanka Kandy Branch.
Umesh Karunaratne becomes the first Thurstanite to win the coveted honour of Schoolboy Cricketer of the Year. The 20-year-old Umesh also won two other individual awards - runner-up Best Bowler and Best All-rounder and Thurstan also won the award for the best teams and the team was captained.
The 20-year-old Umesh, an GCE Advanced Level student at Thurstan College came into cricket in a big way and has played cricket from the age of 11 years. He captained the under 13, under 17 and first eleven teams.
The annual ‘Big’ cricket encounters against Isipatana has brought him great joy as he played in three encounters and last year won the Best Bowler’s award and was also received the Man of the Match award in the limited-over encounter in the same year.
Besides playing for Thurstan, his talent has been recognised at higher level and as a 15-year-old he represented Sri Lanka Schools in an under 15 cricket tournament in Malaysia in 2004, then he played in a under 19 tournament in Bangladesh in 2005 and in 2006 in Malaysia 2007 in the under 19 Tri-Nation Tournament where Bangladesh and India too played besides Sri Lanka and then played in the under 19 Tri-Nation Tournament where Pakistan and England too played besides Sri Lanka and finally played for Sri Lanka in the under 19 World Cup Tournament in Malaysia this year.
His batting has been the highlight and this season, he has scored 506 runs which included five half centuries. He has also bagged 89 wickets with his right-arm off-spinners. His best ‘bowl’ has been 7 for 40 against Maliyadeva and in that game, he had a match haul of 13 for 81. He had five-wicket hauls on eight occasions and a match-bag of 10 wickets twice.
He was also in the Sri Lanka Schools spin clinic managed by former Sri Lanka player Ruwan Kalpage.
He paid a grateful tribute to his school authorities and parents for encouraging him in the game and to his coaches who helped him along.