Shashikala Siriwardene bids farewell with “Player of the Match” award in final WC T 20 encounter with Bangladesh By Sunil Thenabadu – eLanka Sports editor
Sri Lanka woman’s cricket team’s ICC T/20 World Cup campaign ended on Monday with a comprehensive win by nine wickets over Bangladeshi women at the Junction Oval in central Melbourne.
Shashikala Siriwardena,former skipper and the first superstar of the Sri Lankan Woman’s cricket team, had already decided to end her 17-year long international career after this WC encounter. .
Shashikala Siriwardena captured four wickets in this last encounter of hers for just 16 runs in her quota of four overs with her off spinners, for which she was adjudicated as the “Player of the Match”.At the podium after receiving her award she spoke impeccably well bidding farewell and thanking all who had helped her in her long career answering in eloquently in English to questions posed by popular cricket presenter Allen Wilkins ” I’m feeling so happy because I could contribute to my team in my last match, so really proud,” said the 35-year-old. “It was emotional but you cannot keep emotions on the field.She did say that every sportsman has to take this decision when ageing ,it is common.”
.Born on on 14th February 1985 Hettimulla Appuhamilage Shashikala Dedunu Siriwardene in Colombo had studies at President’s College ,Sri Jayawardenepura, Kotte. She had begun playing cricket when she was just 11 years old.
On March 13, 2003, Shashikala made her International debut against the West Indies as an 18-year-old in the West Indies. In her first match, she became the Sri Lanka’s leading scorer and best bowler, creating a big impact for the team. Although Chamari Atapattu became the superstar of woman’s cricket in the last few years. Although during the last few years before Chamari’s performance, Shashikala Siriwardene became, undoubtedly the first superstar of Sri Lanka’s woman’s cricket team.
She excelled in bowling,batting and fielding ,was able to give the team supreme service as an all rounder. Although Sri Lanka naturally as babes of cricket had more defeats than wins, it was under Shashikala that Sri Lanka was able to defeat India and England.
Shashikala, who captained the ODI team in 2005, had a record of 18 wins in 58 matches. She has led in 31 T 20 matches from year 2012..Altogether she has played in 81 T 20 matches and 118 ODI matches capturing 77 and 124 wickets respectively.She had scored over 2000 runs in ODI’s and over 1100 runs in T 20’s.She is the only player to capture 100 wickets and score over 1000 runs in ODI cricket for Sri Lanka.
This is what Skipper Chamari had to utter paying tribute to Shashikala:
“She’s a legend in Sri Lanka woman’s cricket , she’s the big sister of the Sri Lankan team. I will miss her a lot.She retired like a champion”
She is arguably Sri Lanka’s best ever female cricketer, according to critics having made valuable contributions in all three departments of the game. Shashikala was ranked No.6 in the ICC all rounder rankings, ahead of Sri Lanka T20I captain Chamari Atapattu befire WC in 2018. On March 2nd before the 2020 T20 World Cup she had announced her retirement.
During the period 2006 to 2007 Shashikala had represented MAS Holdings in the mercantile tournament.By sheer coincidence had met her partner Namal Seneviratne who happened to be the Assistant coach of the MCA. It had been only Hi, Hello then.Namal a contemporary of Mahela Jayawardena who had played First Class cricket in Sri Lanka.As his dreams of playing for the national team was bleak not materializing had opted to go to England to play League Cricket.But via FB and viber when the just Hi hello friendship had grown.Once he had confessed laughing that he is a “FAN” of Shashika.It had been purely Namal who had encouraged Shashikala to pursue her career which her parents had protested.She is now married for eight years.Although she wanted to quit at 28 or 29 years Namal had insisted her to go on playing.Although Shashikala’s parents were crazy to become grandparents it was not so with Namal’s parents who have been encouraging her to continue.
After one years of marriage Shashikala had become the number one all rounder had been picked to play at Mecca of cricket LORDS for World X1.
Now Namal has his own cricket academy after returning to Sri Lanka after six years in England in which Shashikala also helps him as she is now a Grade 1 coach under SLC under Level 1 training and studying to become a Grade 11 coach.She is already has a coaching stint at Devi Balika Vidyalaya .With the inspiration she has received with her experience her ambition is to train the next generation of female cricketers.
Sashikala was loved by all team mates as she was genuinely behind them like a big sister apart from cricket.It was seen many team mates were in tears when she was at the podium.The Indian cricketers presented her with a souvenir T shirt with the signatures of the team.She was accorded a welcome to the field for the last time by all players of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.It was a fitting farewell well deserved and earned.
After her retirement she intends to work concurrently with Namal in his cricket academy with her experience in the game ,and aptitude in coaching as a Grade 1 coach. All Sashikala’s fans and all Sri Lankan’s would certainly wish her in this endeavor as Grade 1 coach and for her personal family life.
Sunil Thenabadu in Brisbane
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