Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) development drive on a brain child of SLC President, Thilanga Sumathipala at further evolving women’s cricket at increasing latent talent at the grassroots level has made significant progress. Primarily centring on fine-combing young talent from the school periphery in promoting schoolgirls to play cricket since last year; has paid dividends, according to SLC’s Convenor of Women’s Cricket, Ms. Apsari Tillekeratne who elaborated that SLC has stepped in to sow the concept of the game among girls schools.
“SLC broke new ground through an awareness program in girls’ schools to attracting young talent by introducing ten big matches among ten schools. The early success of the initiative is evidenced by the fact that this year the number of girls schools playing big matches has increased to 15,” Apsari said while stressing that SLC was centrally focussing on taking forward a 30-member development squad that was established in 2017.
Women’s cricket that had hitherto unlike men’s cricket not seen a proportionate growth in player resources, has hearteningly found a spring in its step to the next curve. This has been by the setting up of the development squad. It has opened the doors, among others to schools’ talent which in turn feeds the emerging squad that is the equivalent of the men’s A team. The schools have begun to play more and more cricket with SLC’s coaches at hand to earmarking talent and setting up coaching camps that has created a growing interest among school girls, according to the Convenor of women’s cricket. She said that the success of this initiative will be reaped in the long term initially within the next two years when new talent would make it to the national team.
“Already several school girls have been identified with emphasis on about eight players who have shown promise. One of them namely Kavisha Dilhari from Devapathiraja M.V., Ratgama has been singled out by the chairperson of selectors, Rasanjani de Alwis to make it to the national team in the March home tour against Pakistan,” she said. Eighteen-year old Dilhari is one among six to seven promising players from Devapathiraja M.V. which is in the forefront among the schools.
Accordingly, the expectancy at large would be for more and more new blood from the school periphery to make it to the national team. It would be the upswing to making new ground in progressively setting in place a sound domestic gamut for talent to be tapped from school level unlike in the past when women’s cricket was confined to five or six clubs. Already eight players from the development squad have graduated to the emerging squad.
“The talent level has been raised with women’s cricket being decentralised since last year with an under-23 district and provincial tournament. It fed 30 potential players to the development squad. It is an ongoing process with the tournament this year having commenced on February 19,” Apsari further elaborated while stating that the development squad would be given systematic foreign exposure annually.
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-