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Kanthi, Thilani - qualified women's umpires

by Leslie Fernando

Sri Lanka broke new ground in cricket when Kanthi Doolwela and Thilani Priyangika Nissanka, two qualified women's umpires, officiated at a cricket encounter between the Sri Lanka women's national team and Sri Lanka Cricket Foundation XI (50 overs) at Moors SC grounds, Braybrooke Place, yesterday.

Both Kanthi and Thilani are qualified cricket umpires having passed the examination conducted by the Sri Lanka Cricket Umpires and Scorers Association and Sri Lanka Cricket in 1998.

Of the two, Kanthi is a very senior umpire having officiated in 270 matches including division two matches, school matches, club and Mercantile matches. She first started umpiring in 1998 - Lumbini MV v Kanangara MV, Borella. Kanthi has also officiated in two big matches - Mahanama College, Panadura v Horana Royal College. She was the first women's umpire to officiate in a Sara trophy match between Moratuwa SC and Nugegoda SC - this season on trial basis.

She was also a good cricketer having represented Sri Lanka and toured India with the Sri Lanka Women's team in 2002. Kanthi first played for Nomads SC in 1985 and later joined Colts SC and captained the team.

She was instrumental in forming three women's cricket clubs - Colombo Ladies, Sri Jayawardenapura SC and Lanka Ladies - and also had the distinction of captaining all three teams. She coached the Lanka Ladies team as well. She had her early education at Somaweera Chandrasiri MV, Piliyandala and joined Pepiliyana Sunethra Devi Degree College for higher studies.

Kanthi is employed at the Ceylon Electricity Board as a clerk. "I took up to cricket umpiring as I have played the game and I will continue to do so until I make the grade as a Test umpire.

Thilani, a Physical Training Instructor at Dombogoda Seelaratne MV, Horana, began umpiring in 1998. Her first assignment was officiating at a school match between Taxila MV and Bentangamu MV. So far she has officiated in over 40 matches conducted by the Sri Lanka Cricket (division III matches) school matches, club and mercantile matches.

Thilani, who has played cricket for Horana Eksath SC, is a graduate from the University of Ruhuna. She was a top volleyball, table tennis player and athlete as well. She was in the National Volleyball pool in 1993.

She is following in the footsteps of her husband Dilshan de Silva, a Grade one Premier cricket umpire. Dilshan is also the Secretary of Sri Lanka Schools' Cricket Association and the Chairman of Selection Committee of the Schools' Cricket Association.

Thilani said that she was enjoying every bit in officiating at cricket matches and she would continue to do so for years to come. "My main hope is to gain more experience in umpiring and to officiate in an international cricket encounter".

She is blessed with a daughter Sithumdinu and son Rasi Devudunu.

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