“I might retire the next day,” says Chamari Athapaththu

From being overlooked on the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) draft day to finishing as the ‘Player of the Tournament’ that season, and from going unsold at the Women’s Premier League (WPL) auction to being a last-minute entrant, Sri Lanka’s star all-rounder opened up in recent interviews about the highs and lows and commented on her retirement, sharing the 2024-25 dream.

Chamari Athapaththu. PC: Getty Images
Chamari Athapaththu. PC: Getty Images

 

Chamari Athapaththu, in T20Is in 2023, from 16 outings amassed 470 runs, including the highest of 80*, averaging 31.33 and striking at 130.91, while also taking 8 wickets from 12 innings, maintaining an economy rate of 5.97. Amidst a successful run, Chamari was overlooked in the September WBBL draft. However, Sydney Thunder later acquired her services as a replacement overseas player.

The 33-year-old all-rounder from 14 WBBL appearances in 2023, racked up 552 runs at a strike rate of 127.18 and picked up 9 wickets, recording an economy rate of 6.83. During the business end of the WBBL, for her scintillating form, Chamari landed a deal with the Northern Brave, for a Super Smash season in New Zealand.

Chamari suffered yet another snub, going unsold in the WPL auction in December, despite an 800+ run international year and 500+ run WBBL season. She brushed aside the disappointment, leading from the front, scoring 221 runs and striking 9 wickets from nine Smash games, including respective bests of 58 and 4/19.

UP Warriorz on January 26, announced Chamari Athapaththu’s WPL signing, as a replacement for an English quick. Speaking on the repeated setbacks, Chamari stated, “Auctions are not in my hands, and I can control what is in my hands, so now that I have been given an opportunity, I want to play in the tournament and show what I can do.”

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She further stated, “Obviously, the Australian and England get good opportunities and because of their standard, all franchises prefer picking those players. I think currently I am the only player from the sub-continent playing in this WPL, so maybe in the next couple of years, if WPL teams increase, I hope to see a lot of players from the sub-continent getting opportunities.”

Beyond T20 success, Chamari Athapaththu contributed equally highly in One-Day Internationals, averaging 69.16, and under her captaincy, the team registered a string of firsts against England and New Zealand in a bilateral series. Her efforts were acknowledged in the annual ICC awards, as she was named the ODI Cricketer of the Year and also captain of both the ICC T20I and ODI teams of the year.

On the year she had, she commented, “Internationally it was the best year I have had in my career. Not just as a batter, but as a captain, and even as a team, we performed really well in 2023… but sometimes I felt like despite everything we were able to achieve, neither the team nor I really got the recognition we deserved.”

With every individual goal achieved and a couple of years still to play for, Chamari has set a team goal for later this year. Quoting Chamari, “I will say, this year there’s a T20 World Cup coming up. If we make the final of that tournament or win, I might retire the next day. If I look back, every individual goal I have set for myself, I have achieved. But what remains is that team goal and I’m going to give everything I can to achieve it.”

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(Quotes sourced from Sportstar and Cricbuzz)

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