Umasha Themashini Born to wield the willow | Sunday Observer

Umasha Themashini Born to wield the willow

A sports star was born the day Umasha Themashini first held a bat in her hands and bowled her first ball. It happened on a road in rural Rathgama, southern Sri Lanka. Her co-players were her brothers and other village lads. From then, Umasha has never looked back. She now captains the Devapathiraja College, Rathgama women’s cricket team and is in the National squad. She represented Sri Lanka at the recently concluded Asia Cup Tournament where Sri Lanka battled it out with India. India Emerging Women’s Team beat Sri Lanka Women’s Emerging Team to become the Champions of the Women’s Emerging Asia Cup Tournament 2019.

Crowned the inaugural recipient of the Schoolgirl Cricketer of the Year 2019 Award and having bagged the Runner up Award for Best Batswoman 2019, this 18-year- old lass is already a shining star on the firmament of Sri Lankan women’s cricket.

Umasha said that she was very happy to win this coveted award and was proud to be able to justify the faith put in her by those who encouraged her. She also said that it was a great encouragement for her to move forward. She also expressed her gratitude to the organisers of the contest for recognising the cricketing talents of schoolgirls.

Umasha was selected for the Sri Lankan National Team for their series against South Africa earlier this year and had the distinction of being the youngest member of the team. She made her debut in T20 international cricket for Sri Lanka when she faced the South African Women’s Team in a T20 match on February 1, 2019. On February 11, 2019 she made her debut in One Day International Cricket for Sri Lanka also against South Africa.

She found the cold of the South African climate uncomfortable and also found it a bit difficult to adjust to the unfamiliar pitch.

Her enthusiasm for cricket grew as she watched the older girls of Devapathraja perform with the bat and ball and also watched matches on TV. So, it was no wonder when Nishantha, the Devapathiraja cricket coach called for enrolment to the college team, one of the first hands that went up was Umasha Thamashini’s. They first played tape ball cricket where a tennis ball was wound around with red tape.

Umasha played her first match for Devapathiraja in the 2014 under 17 Schools Tournament against Prajapathi Vidalaya and helped her team to win.

She soon became one of the strongest links in the Devapathiraja women’s team and helped them to coast to victory in the school cricket tournaments. From 2015 to date, the Devapathiraja College Women’s Team has been the champions in the under 19 category in the Schools Cricket Tournament. A powerful hitter she is also a good right arm off spinner. Speaking to the Sunday Observer on the occasion of Umasha’s victory at the Observer/Mobitel contest, Devapathiraja coach Nishantha Kumara said that she was a hard hitting batswoman who could go a long way’.

With her selection to the National Team Umasha’s life underwent a major change. From Rathgama, she had to move to Colombo as she had practice sessions almost daily. She now boards in Wellampitiya. Her selction to the national Team has also caused a disruption in her studies. She will be sitting for her GCE Adavanced Level exam in August 2020 offering Media (her favourite subject), Sinhala and Buddhist Civilisation. She attends private classes during her spare time and also devotes this time to studying with her school mates who support in many ways, such as offering her their notes and helping her catch up on missed work. Academically, she hopes to enter University, graduate and take to the teaching profession.

This teenager leads a strict, disciplined life geared to giving of her best to Sri Lankan Women’s Cricket. She thrives on a healthy diet laced with proteins and other energising food. During practice breakfast and lunch is provided by Sri Lanka cricket. Umasha is very particular to maintain a healthy lifestyle so she can pass the fitness criteria as demanded by Sri Lanka including the YoYo test where she has to reach the 16.1 mark. This cricketing gem has had Nishantha Kumara at Devapathiraja and Mahesh Sandaruwan in School cricket polishing her cricket prowess.

Umasha is deeply grateful to her coaches for moulding and guiding her to achieve what she has attained today.

She is also keenly aware of the sacrifices her parents have made for despite their straitened economic means, Umasha is very grateful to them and her siblings. She also expressed her warmest thanks to the Principal and staff, Devapathiraja College, Sri Lanka Cricket officials and all others who have helped and are helping her on her cricketing journey, including Inoka Ranaweera, Hasini Perera and Nalini Nanayakkara.

The Youth Observer had the opportunity to watch Umasha during a practice session at the NCC indoor stadium and saw her talent bloom as leather and wood came into contact with loud thwacks.

She worships the Triple Gem each morning and takes Pansil or the five precepts of Buddhism. She also visits the temple and does Bodhi Poojas and takes part in other religious activities.

Umasha Themashini dreams big. She wants to be a cricketer par excellence and her current dream is to help bring the Asia Cup to her motherland in 2020.

Go Umasha go! May success follow you with every stroke and each ball bowled!