Watch out for the spice girls | Sunday Observer

Watch out for the spice girls

18 April, 2021

For years they were unheard of or played second fiddle to the boys feeding on the crumbs that fall off the table. Not many in Sri Lanka knew they even existed outside the scope of their brothers and parents from whom they were able to pick up a hint or two.

Legend or history has it that it was a girl who even created the art of bowling in cricket when she realized her frock or gown was too cumbersome to send the ball down underarm that she turned her arm overhead thus inventing today’s bowling technique or style or whatever the pundits choose to call it.

When the girls came out to play, England, inspired by that historic gesture found many a role model that became legends in their own right that paved the way for what is today being called women’s cricket.

In Sri Lanka women’s cricket at the start was confined to a few grown ups in the city and townships under the watchful eyes of a pioneer known as Gwen Herath and Heaven bless her wherever she is if not in whatever she does now.

That paved the way for Sri Lanka to at least posses a women’s team leave aside competing against teams like England and one of its players who braved a man’s world and even had the audacity to nudge the media to take note of them was the dusky Rohini Fernando among others.

Today all of them can at least try to relax a bit that what they pioneered more than three decades ago is beginning to bear fruit at least in bud form and thanks to the media, particularly the Sunday Observer that has ‘officially recognised’ their existence, the girls in good old Sri Lanka have come out to both challenge the boys for their due places while adding that little spice that can go along way.

Thanks to the Sunday Observer and its commercial partner SLT Mobitel, girls’ cricket has replaced women’s cricket, with no mean reference to those prototypes of the past. The girls of today have found a plot on which to grow from the seeds which were sown and the year 2019 marked a historic chapter when the Sunday Observer-Mobitel Schoolgirl Cricketer Awards were added. It means that no longer does the keeper of the sport in the country, Sri Lanka Cricket, have to depend on finding the grown ups or even moms to showcase an international team.

They can be caught, netted in and put on the catwalk as spritely teenage schoolgirls. A role model has already being found in Nimesha Wijesundera who in 2019 was the best runner-up allrounder and in the following year 2020 was voted the Most Popular Schoolgirl cricketer.

She waltzed her way to a century in a school match a few weeks ago and the purists can only hope that unlike schoolboy cricket where players are traded under the guise of scholarships from the provinces into the privileged big city and original players from kindergarten are pushed out in the win-at-all-cost syndrome, the girls will be taken care of for the right reasons.

It is hoped that gone will be the days when people like Gwen Herath and Rohini Fernando and the Rest who ventured out boldly into a man’s world in search of a new tribe of sportswomen.

Today by extending its goodwill towards girls as young as 10 years who will some day blossom into fully fledged players, the Sunday Observer and Mobitel have sounded the trumpet this time in a more privileged way than Herath and Fernando who were granted just a morsel of space for a precious few lines in a newspaper.

What Sri Lanka Cricket had not done with all their wealth and pompous conduct, the little obscure girls most from village schools in the country have sent out a message in no uncertain terms that they are here to stay and all what was needed for a turn-over was just one stroke of the pen.

No longer will coaches of women’s cricket, and they were mostly men, have to complain to their employer Sri Lanka Cricket that all they hit in their search were mothers with babies, save the occasional young lass.

Today while the seeds that were sown many decades ago but neglected when they sprouted, have found fertile ground with a godfather to back them up.

Winners of the Observer Schoolboy Cricketer contest of the past, many of whom were members of the 1996 World Cup winning team, may believe that their voices for quality cricket have found an echo in the girls.