Younger generation should be given more opportunities Sashikala Siriwardane | Sunday Observer

Younger generation should be given more opportunities Sashikala Siriwardane

25 October, 2020
Shashikala Siriwardena captain of Sri Lanka plays a shot during the ICC Women’s World Cup match against England at the CCI in Mumbai, India on February 1, 2013. (ICC/SOLARIS IMAGES)

Sashikala Dedunu Siriwardane is an all-rounder who at one time was the captain of Sri Lanka’s women’s cricket team.

As she was a valuable player she was chosen to play in the Indian T20 tournament this year.

Today, she talks to Youth Observer about her sports journey and what she plans to do in the future.

Q : Shashi, you have been invited to join the Indian Premier League cricket tournament. What do you have to say about it?

A: Chamari and I have been called to take part in this tournament; I think it is a valuable opportunity in our cricket life. With the Covid pandemic I have to be very careful.

Q : Did you have time for practises over the past few days?

A: We practice as much as we can to keep ourselves fit. As such we are ready to play in the tournament. I hope that we are never affected by the pandemic.

Q : You are an all-rounder. The franchise cricket officials have called you after considering your all-round skills. Do you agree?

A: Yes. Before they invited me they may have looked into my past performances and the fact that I was a senior player in Sri Lanka’s national team. After the tournament I will decide on my future role in life.

Q : Does that mean that you plan to retire from cricket?

A: I am thinking deeply about it. I wanted to retire from international cricket about two years ago. But Sri Lanka Cricket authorities wanted me to stay two more years with the national team as the standard of the team may be affected if all the seniors retired suddenly.

Q : You are one of the pioneers of our women’s cricket team. We like to hear about your beginning?

A: It was hard at first. Our family had a cricket background. My father was the shadow of my cricket career. Without him, I would not have established myself as a cricketer.

Q : How did he get involved in cricket? And how did he make you take an interest in the game?

A: My father loves sports and he watches a lot of cricket matches. I too watched matches with him and all our family members also discussed cricket. This helped me to take up playing cricket. I received support from my brother too.

Q : You were one of the pioneers of women’s cricket culture in the country. Could you describe the early days?

A: During the early days my father and I went for practises by bus or train. Whenever I entered a bus with a big bag on my shoulders, most of the young people in the bus looked at me as if I was from another planet. They cast remarks at me, which nearly broke my moral, but I was undeterred. Later my father began taking me for practises on his motorcycle.

If you begin something new you have to go forward with a strong mind. I learned this lesson very well.

Q : What was your mother’s attitude to you playing cricket?

A: She also supported me and did not worry as my father was always behind me. She taught me how to face pressure from society as I was a girl. It helped me to develop my personality.

Q : We heard you were an athlete in your school days. Why did you change your career?

A: As I said we have a sports friendly background at home. My father, brother and my sister enjoy sports. At that time women playing cricket was recognised in our society. But I had the talent to develop my cricket skills and I have also played cricket with boys.

Q : We heard that you have been successful in your studies while being involved in sports?

A: I did the GCE A/L in the Maths stream. I worked as a fabric technician at the MAS Group. This too helped change my life.

Q : You are married now. Would you like to tell us about your family life?

A: Yes. My husband is Namal Seneviratne and works as a cricket coach. I also train under his guidance. Both of us are enjoying our lives.

Q : Finally, I like to ask a sensitive question about your father. Your father passed away some time ago. Was he there to see the success in your cricket career?

A: I proved my success in cricket before he passed away. I am happy about it. I always pay tribute to my father and mother for my success.