I retired to make way for youngsters -Sripali Weerakkody | Sunday Observer

I retired to make way for youngsters -Sripali Weerakkody

Although she is a cricketer she can be easily identified as a model as she is very fashionable and cute. She never follows any accepted fashions and creates new ones as she wishes. If anyone who  is keen on  women’s cricket has never  forgotten Sripali Weerakkody, it is  not only for  her  cricketing skills but also for  her fashion sense  as well. However, last month she announced her retirement  from cricket. The   Youth Observer met her to  talk about her experiences.

She started to play cricket at the age of thirteen. She was a left hand batsman and right arm medium fast bowler. She had debuted in ODI cricket in December, 2006 against Pakistan and debuted in T20 cricket in 2009 also against Pakistan. Sripali had played 89 ODIs and 58 T20s. During those matches she had made 722 and 209 runs respectively. She bagged 58 and 31 wickets during her career.

Her father hails from the Western  province but settled in Kandy after his marriage.

Q: You decided to retire from cricket at the end of last month. What is the reason behind that decision?

A: There was no special reason for it. But I think this is the correct time for it. So, I announced my retirement fromcricket.  Also another reason was that I was thinking about our youngsters. They need more opportunities. We are not the proprietors of this sport and must give our youth the opportunity for it. I am going to do it.

Q: You are an experienced member in our team. This decision may not be an easy one for our side. Are you thinking about it?

A: Yes. I knew it. But no one can play for the whole of his or her life. We know it very well. I did it in my era. Now another one must take the wheel. I think, many young talented people can  come forward to fill my vacant place in the side. They can handle it inthe future.

Q: You are qualified in the fitness field as well. We know that you  have Australian qualifications  in the fitness field. Would you like to talk about it?

A: Yes. I have  improved  my knowledge on fitness  in the past.  I followed  a Masters  degree in fitness in Australia. So, I am an upgraded fitness coach in Sri Lanka. I am happy about it.

Q: Sripali, you have  planned  your future well. Is fitness your future path?

A: Correct. As a player I managed my  career well.  I have a dream and I am working towards realising it.

Q: Who has helped and  guided you in your career?

A: I had much  help  from my parents, relatives, and friends. During my overseas tours I saw the differences between foreign teams and us. I  realised that the main difference  was the  strength of our minds. Then I tried  to find the  answer to  that question. I had a chance to  do it in the  T 20s in Australia as well. During those  tours I found how they strengthen  their minds. Then I also decided to follow it.

Q: What  was the duration of  your course in Australia?

A: One and half years.. It developed my capacity and thinking patterns. After completing  it I designed  a course about fitness here.  A couple  of months ago I created a fitness education company with  another partner in Sri Lanka. It is working well  and we provide services to  individuals and companies.

Q: Let’s talk  about your past cricket career. How was it  in  the early days?

 A: I  was born in Kandy. Gurudeniya Vidyalaya was my school. In school, I played soft ball cricket. I was  motivated to do it by my family. My brothers and sister played cricket  at home My family was very supportive   during my whole career. So, I was representing my school soft ball team as well.

Then I got a chance to participate in  regional and national  soft ball tournaments. During those tournaments I had a chance to join Malwath Sports Club. Samantha Sudarshana sir is the first official who helped me  to practice leather ball  cricket in the  past.

Then  I played in his team. The team’s name was changed  to Kandyans. During that period, I and another two players  in our team  were selected for the  national women’s pool in Sri Lanka. 

It totally  changed my life and  I was selected for the National Women’s Cricket team in 2004. From then on, until   I announced my retirement last month, I played in the national side continuously.

Q: What  are the most memorable moments in your career?

 A: The match against Pakistan in the  2010 World Cup qualifying tournament was a remarkable moment in my career. Pakistan needed to  get seven runs for their win.  I had to face that challenge as a bowler in my side.  When I bowled my first ball our wicket keeper missed the ball and our opponents collected four byes. We were too pressurised in that situation and finally I was able to help us win.

As a batsman I had a challenge to score  winning runs in a match against the  Indian team in 2018.  Within the last over I achieved it. It is a moment I  will never forget in my cricket career.

Q: Who are the players  who inspired your game?

A: In the  past, Arjuna Ranatunga and Andrew Symonds were my favourite players. After their retirement Mahela Jayewardene, Lasith Malinga and Virat  Koli have  inspired me.  And out of them I think Virat is the player who influenced my career the most..

Q: What is the reason for it? Steven Smith  did not not impress you?

A: He is the greatest player I  hve ever seen. But I was trying to find out players in the Asian region too. But, Koli is the most powerful cricketer physically and mentally.

Q:  What about marriage?

A: For the last 15 years I have been totally focused on the game. And  now I want to focus on my fitness work. Marriage will be in the future.

Q: What  advice would you give  our youth?

A:. I want to say face your challenges. Never give up  the fight.. If you fight you will never  be defeated  in your challenges. Be strong mentally and physically. Also,please be honest. In this way, you will certainly win in life.