The most experienced pace bowler in the Sri Lankan attack, Sripali Weerakkody was born on 7th January 1986. Having played 73 ODI’s and 49 T20I’s till date, Sripali has single-handedly brought victories to Sri Lankan Cricket team. On several occasions, Sripali has made important wicket taking breakthroughs and is today an essential part of her team as an all-rounder. With equal zest, Sripali is all set to participate in the upcoming Women’s World Cup 2017 starting this June. In an interview with Female Cricket, Sripali talks about her cricket journey so far and highlights some of the key moments.
1. What drove you to cricket? Walk us through your initial cricket days?
I was a real tomboy at heart, always playing on the field, which was next to my home with the local boys who were much older than me. Sports caught my attention at a very young age. I excelled at everything I put my mind to, right from athletics to ball sports such as cricket and tennis.
2. Who were your cricket role model / inspiration whilst growing up?
I looked up to legendary Sangakkara who was from Kandy, my home town. The entire Sri Lankan squad for 1996 World Cup inspired me a lot.
3. Back then how did you cope up with your studies / education / other commitments along with cricket? Was it hard to convince your parents about choosing this profession?
I traveled everyday from Kandy to Colombo for almost 2 years. A daily commute of total 6 hours. Yes, it was a challenging to cope up with both studies and cricket together.
4. When and how did you come to know about your selection in the national team?
I remember, I was 17 years old when I heard of my selection in the national team.
5. How special was your debut match against mighty Pakistan on Dec 14, 2006? Were you excited, nervous, what was the feeling?
Amidst all the nervousness, I was extremely proud to have the responsibility of playing for my country.
6. What is the general perception about women’s cricket in Sri Lanka? How has it changed post qualifying for World Cup 2017?
I feel the perception about women’s cricket in Sri Lanka was always strong and will remain strong.
7. A moment that you feel was the turning point for women’s cricket in Sri Lanka?
2013 World Cup in India when we won majority of world cup matches.
8. What is the biggest challenge still prevalent in the Sri Lankan women’s cricket circuit?
Financial rewards are still not there for the players. This is something that will give the initial boost to women’s cricket in the country.
9. 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?
Club tournaments coupled with a strong “forces” competition with army, navy and Airforce team has provided a great preparation for the ICC World Cup 2017.
10. Sri Lankan team is a mix of young talents and experienced players. How easy/difficult is to align new-comers with the team’s vision and get the best out of these young talents?
Like any team in World Cup, a natural mix of youth and experience is needed to succeed. The new-comers have done extremely well at domestic tournaments and World Cup would be an exciting platform for young players to perform.
11. Out of 7, Sri Lankan team won 5 matches in the recently concluded qualifiers. What would be your pick from the tournament? Highlight the key-points to accept and reject from it?
So many positives to derive from the tournament. The game against Pakistan was great and a took the ball of the tournament.
12. What camps/preparatory events are scheduled for the team before the start of World Cup?
Playing Domestic tournaments in Sri Lanka and preparation camps are underway.
13. How excited are you, respective family members, well wishers, fans and the team for ICC Women’s World Cup 2017?
Extremely excited with high hopes and expectations from the team this time.
14. Your views on Female Cricket as a platform?
Brilliant initiative in building the biggest women’s cricket community.