Jul 27, 2020

The unsung hero in Women’s Cricket

Women’s cricket has evolved as a sport within a short space of time. Even though cricket is regarded as the gentlemen’s game, women also play a pivotal role in popularising the game among the public. There are several inspiring stories where women went on to break the barriers and prospered at the international level.

As such, Sripali Weerakody’s cricketing journey has been fascinating. Throughout her career she faced many challenges to follow her dream of becoming a professional cricketer. After a wonderful journey Weerakody finally announced her retirement from International cricket last week.

“I came from an ordinary family. My family has sacrificed a lot to make my dream a reality. Those days I had to travel from Kandy to Colombo on a frequent basis for practices. As you know it was quite expensive. Fortunately I was under the guidance of Mr. Kasthuriratne, the person who enabled me to become a professional cricketer,” Weerakody recalled in an interview with the Sunday times after calling quits to her international career.

Having fallen in love with the game when she was 13-years-old, Weerakody’s passion for the game grew while she was playing cricket with her family members and thereafter joined the school cricket team. A product of Gurudeniya Maha Vidyalaya, Kandy, Weerakody nurtured her cricket skills from renowned coaches such as Bernard Perera and Nishantha Weerasinghe.

She idolised Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga and Andrew Symonds purely for their attitude towards the game. Weerakody prospered at school level at a time where the girls only played softball cricket and in the Mahaweli Games. A consistent performer with both bat and the ball, she joined Malwathu Sports Club where she first played leather ball cricket. Despite the ball being changed, she didn’t find it difficult to adjust herself. She moved on to Kandyan Ladies Cricket Club.

Weerakody continued her progress at domestic level. At one stage in her career, she was the opening batsman as well as opening bowler for her club. In 2004 she scored 281 for her club in an ‘A’ Division match against Pushpadana College, Kandy – a record that stands to date.

As a result, she was selected for the National women’s cricket team. But she had to wait for another two years to make her debut in international cricket and realise her dream. While she was in the National team she joined the Colts Cricket Club in 2008 with the guidance of Mr. Kasthuriratne, who has been a strong pillar for Weerakody from an early stage of her career.

She represented Sri Lanka in 89 Women’s ODIs and 58 Women’s T20Is during her illustrious international women’s cricket career. She played under several captains such as Chamari Polgampola, Sandamali Dolawatte and Chamali Seneviratne, being the vice-captain in 2016 and 2017. Weerakody played her final game in 2018 before she went to Australia with the ambition of becoming a qualified fitness trainer.

“I studied in a university in Australia and obtained the Level IV qualification in Master Trainer Fitness Course. The mind plays an important role in cricket. In the past I have observed that we have a tendency to struggle in crunch situations. As a result of that we have lost several matches that we could have won. This applies for any sport. My ambition is to lend a helping hand to all who are trying to cope up with the mental and physical barriers and take sports in Sri Lanka to the next level,” said Weerakody, who has started a centre called ‘Myrus’ Fitness.

She paid her gratitude to all the coaches including the national team and ones who helped her during her illustrious career.

“It has been a great honour to represent my country for 16 long years. Every time I walked on to the field, I played the game with great pride and I always played to make my country proud and I would like to thank my family members, coaches Mr. Channa, Mr. Samantha Sudarshana,, Mr. Harold, Mr. Bernard Perera and Mr. Nishantha Weerasinghe; Managers Mr. Kasthurirathne, Mr. Norman Kochannek and Dr. Miyuru Jayaweera , relatives, friends and fans from across the world,” she concluded.