Harshitha Madavi, young and dynamic batswoman from Sri Lanka was 7 when she started playing cricket. She considered legendary Shashikala Siriwardene and Kumar Sangakkara as her role model. She started her journey with Gothami Balika Vidyalaya in Colombo and later moved to Anula Vidyalaya to further her cricketing pursuits. Here’s an excerpt from the interview with Harshitha Madavi.
1. At what age did you start playing cricket? Tell us about your childhood cricket days?
I started playing cricket with my brother when I was 7 years old and also I watched men’s matches on TV . That increased my interest towards cricket. One day I had a selection in my school ground for the squad and I played well. Then school Coach Sir Lalanga Rajapaksha asked me to join with the school team. Then I started playing hard ball cricket there. My first Coach is Lalanga Rajapaksha Sir.
2. Who were your cricket role model / inspiration whilst growing up?
Shashikala Siriwardene and Kumar Sangakkara.
3. How do you manage your studies / education / other commitments along with cricket? Was it easy / difficult to convince your parents about choosing this profession?
I have just finished my schooling. I have already applied to Sri Jayawardenapura Campus for a Sports Degree. With the help of my family, school teachers and my friends, I could manage both studies and practices. I used to do extra classes on the weekends and it was manageable with the help of my family, teachers and friends. Parents were always very supportive of me choosing cricket.
4. You started your journey with Gothami Balika Vidyalaya and then Anula Vidyalaya. Do you feel your school has supported you enough in your cricket career?
I started playing competitive cricket from my 1st school Gothami Balika Vidyalaya in Colombo. Then Anula Vidyalaya Nugegoda supported me too. Both the schools and teachers have helped me a lot at crucial junctures to balance my studies while still playing cricket.
5. At just 20, you are a proud captain of your school Anula Vidyalaya cricket team and has led the team to several famous victories. Tell us one moment from your school cricket that you will always cherish?
There are lots of unforgettable memories and it is really difficult to name just one at the moment.
6. Throw some light on the current domestic structure in Sri Lanka? Highlight some of the tours/tournaments that have helped churn out quality female cricket players?
We have division 1 premier league. SLC has designed a plan to promote and nurture school cricket. We also have provincial, district tournament and recently we toured to Thailand as U23 national side.
7. At 17, you made your national debut for Sri Lanka. When and how did you come to know about your selection in the national team? Were you jumping out of joy or crying happy tears?
I remember, one of my senior team members got the confirmation of my selection from some electronic media. It was for the tour to India in 2016. I was on cloud nine, was jumping out with joy and crying happy tears.
8. How special was your debut match against Ireland on 20th March 2016? Were you excited, nervous, what was the feeling?
I was very excited but nervous at the same time. The initial few overs went so quick, I didn’t even realize. Only after playing few overs and spending some time in the middle I gained the confidence.
9. What was the general perception about women’s cricket in Sri Lanka when you started playing cricket? How is it now?
People were very receptive and the acceptance was already there. I got the opportunity because of the U19 tournament conducted by the SLC and we have good domestic structure in place.
10. How do you ensure you stay fit all the time? What’s your daily diet / nutrition like?
Our trainer has given us a plan for our daily diet and to be healthy. Breakfast and lunch are provided by Sri Lanaka cricket. For dinner I prefer home-cooked food.
11. What are you pre-match routines? Do you follow any superstitions?
Fortunately, I don’t have any.
12. With the T20 World Cup this year, does it put any pressure on you?
Actually not really. I am just giving my 100% in practices, aiming to perform to my best in the T20 world cup
13. What are your career goals for next 5 years?
To cement my place in the playing eleven, complete 1000 ODI Runs, and feature in the top 20 all-rounders list in the world.
14. How many hours do you train every week? Does that leave you any spare time?
6 hours per day on week-days and extra practices on weekends.
15. Do you prefer playing in girls or boys team? And why so?
Both girls and boys. But playing with the boys has helped me improve my cricket to a great extent.
16. What’s been the most challenging time for you in cricket? How did you get through it?
I got injured just weeks before my debut match for Sri Lanka. It was very disheartening to be in that position. I decided to put in extra hours, made recovery and was all set to make the debut.
17. If given an opportunity, would you like to take up Captain’s role for the national team in near future?
At present, I am focused on improving my personal game. I haven’t thought anything more than that.
18. Best piece of advice anyone has ever given you?
When you are playing a match, don’t think too much. Just play your normal game and enjoy every bit of cricket.
19. How do you handle pressure at a young age? Your one advice to the youngsters taking up the game?
When I play cricket I just focus on one thing at a time. It reduces my pressure and lets me enjoy my game. For the youngsters reading this interview, I would say that discipline, focus, passion and commitment will lift your game up.
20. Your views on Female Cricket as a platform?
With Female Cricket, we get to stay updated about the latest happenings in women’s cricket world. Also, a perfect platform for female cricket aspirants to learn and share more about this beautiful game called Cricket. You guys are really doing a great job in uplifting profile of women’s cricket around the world.