The coronavirus pandemic impacted sports awfully a lot. However, things are slowly getting back to normal as we are already witnessing sporting action. There were multiple tours in men’s cricket, and most of the women’s cricket teams- though they didn’t play as much as their counterparts- has returned to the international scene. One team that is yet to get the taste of international cricket is Sri Lankan women’s cricket team.
March 2, 2020. This was the last time Sri Lankan women’s team has played an international cricket match. The team is yet to play an ODI since 2019. With the World Cup coming up, this is certainly not a pretty scene for the team, which is filled with promises and, of course, Chamari Atapattu.
The least one can get closer to watch the Sri Lankan team at the moment is through the old videos, and if we are going through that lane, you might want to skip Chamari’s 178* in order to protect yourself from feeling all kinds of emotions. Bad. Sad. You name it.
At the same time, the men’s team has played/ are playing multiple series, and they even had a whole edition of Lanka Premier League, a tournament that witnessed overseas players. In fact, the next edition will get underway very soon. On the other hand, the only improvement in the women’s side is the ranking of Chamari, who has moved a few spots.
A few days ago, in an interview with Sunday Observer, Chamari said, “If only I had more chances to take part in international matches I could have improved my ranking, but due to this pandemic all plans are jeopardized”. She also added that the team has a pool of talents who are currently practising according to the schedule and are hopeful to resume training soon.
The real question here is, when?
Both current and former players are hopeful that the team will get proper practice before the big Qualifiers, which is a few months away.
Former Sri Lankan cricketer Shashikala Siriwardena is hopeful that the board will arrange plenty of practice matches before their first international assignment which could get them back in good form soon.
“Yes, it [returning to cricket after pandemic] might affect. They haven’t played an ODI since October 2019 and T20I since March 2020. Definitely, they might take a little time to get in good shape for international cricket but hopefully, they will have plenty of practice matches before their first international tournament which might get them to good form soon”, she said.
March 2020 also marked the final assignment for her in international cricket. Another experienced cricketer who had called it a day recently was Sripali Weerakkody.
Both the players were the pillars of Sri Lankan cricket for a very long time now, and undoubtedly, the void they have left is huge. When asked about the same, Shashikala added that the team has a huge pool of talents, and there are a lot of players who can easily replace them in the squad.
“I think they have enough players to fill our spots. Also, the senior players like Dilani (Manodara), Chamari (Atapattu), Udeshika (Prabodhani), Ranaweera(Inoka Ranaweera), Oshadi (Ranasinghe), Prasadani (Weerakkody) are very helpful with youngsters can get the team into a good position,” she added.
Shashikala was one of the overseas players to play in the Women’s T20 Challenge, a tournament that provided a spotlight on Shafali Verma. When asked about Lanka Premier League for women, she was all up for it said that it is a very important tournament for Sri Lanka considering the current situation.
“It is very important to have any kind of tournament in Sri Lanka since they haven’t played many recently. Also, WLPL can give a lot of exposure to youngsters as well as seniors. To play with good foreign players and to share the dressing room is a very good opportunity for all to enhance their Cricketing skills and sense”, she said.
She concluded our interview by saying that she will be available for WLPL if that happens.
“I am still in touch to play domestics for my working place, my club Sri Lanka Navy. So, I will be available for any other tournaments as well,” she concluded.