Thu, 23 May 2024 Today's Paper

Is Chamari Athapaththu Sri Lanka’s greatest cricketer ever?

24 April 2024 08:38 pm - 16     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Harsha Amarasinghe 

Colombo, April 24 (Daily Mirror) - Chamari Athapaththu's historical 195 against South Africa last week saw her claiming the top spot of ICC Women's ODI Batting Rankings on Tuesday.

It was in fact the second time she achieved the feat in her ODI career which has now opened up a debate whether she'd go down as the greatest Sri Lankan cricketer in both men's and women's game in terms of the pure impact. 

Hailing from a modest family in Kurunegala, Chamari's greatest supporter in cricket was her late father who used to accompany her for practices in Colombo, but sadly passed away in 2008 - a year before her international debut. However, her cricketing journey never stopped there, and after 15 years at the top level of women's cricket, Chamari has now reached the twilight of her career. 

Following the cracking 195 against South African women's team, Chamari told the media that her 'retirement is very soon.'

So how does she fare against the likes of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardane, Sanath Jayasuriya, Aravinda de Silva and Muttiah Muralitharan in the discussion for greatest Sri Lankan cricketer ever?

Mahadevan Sathasivam was probably Sri Lanka's first batting super star having dominated the game in the late 1940s. Sir Garry Sobers called him the 'greatest batsman ever on earth' and according to Frank Worrell, Sathasivam was the 'best batsman he had ever seen.'

Dulip Mendis was a batting maestro for Sri Lanka in 1970s and 1980s while Roy Dias inspired a generation of cricketers with silky technique. 

Sanath Jayasuriya and Romesh Kaluwitharana changed the way ODI cricket was played in 1996 while Aravinda de Silva made himself man for big occasions in leading Sri Lanka to maiden ODI World Cup.

Muttiah Muralitharan ended up being highest wicket taker in cricket while Sangakkara and Mahela became the big two of Sri Lanka Cricket for nearly a decade winning a T20 World Cup and finishing runners up in four World Cups in the process. 

So, what has Chamari Athapaththu has done for Sri Lanka Cricket?

At the start of his career she was just an opening batter but as she matured she made herself a very useful off-spin bowler and contributed to the team immensely.

She took over a team that was down and out, and brought them all together to achieve wins over top teams such as New Zealand, England and South Africa.

All the top ten highest scores for Sri Lanka women's in ODI cricket belongs to Chamari. She is the top scorer for Sri Lanka women's in at least 80% of their wins. 

In the men's game Sri Lanka always had great teams. The 1996 World Cup winning team was full of stars, Sri Lanka probably had their best run in international cricket from 1996 to 2015 - after that they started celebrating wins against Bangladesh.

But in the case of Chamari, more often than not Sri Lanka women's team was Chamari. The individual impact she has had on Sri Lanka cricket is sadly not recognized because of the high standards of men's game. 

In Chamari Sri Lanka has a living legend who well and truly added meaning to the famous phrase "One (Wo)man Army."


  Comments - 16

  • Shehan Wednesday, 24 April 2024 09:05 PM

    Dont be silly. The speed and level of men's bowling speeds etc are not even close to the women's game. Women's cricket level is normally considered on par with school leve cricket. Of course chamari is a talent but you cant compare her with our mens cricketikg heroes

    Shehan Wednesday, 24 April 2024 09:06 PM

    Dont be silly. The speed and level of men's bowling speeds etc are not even close to the women's game. Women's cricket level is normally considered on par with school level cricket. Of course chamari is a talent but you cant compare her with our mens cricketikg heroes

    Bunty lucky Wednesday, 24 April 2024 11:30 PM

    And women cricket is less competitive with lighter cricket balls. It is not equal to men's like gymnastics

    Bunty lucky Wednesday, 24 April 2024 11:28 PM

    The greatest cricket ever in SL is Arjuna R. His leadership also has a value in cricket. He took our sports culture to new level. He is our Nelson Mandela of cricket who fought against Australian open racism, violent betrayal from many nations and within administration.

    FredSnr Thursday, 25 April 2024 03:44 AM

    Don't put unnecessary pressure on her.Leave such topics for party conversation. She will be whatever she can be. Let her enjoy her moment of glory and give her time and space to prepare for the next day, the next match..But 195 not out to win, another great effort by Chamari and her team for Sri Lanka

    wickrama wijayasiri Thursday, 25 April 2024 06:43 AM

    When SL cricket has become a corrupt business, controlled by the politicians and cronies, we lost all the glamour and and the game with it. At a time when a win against Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Zimbabwe in 'Men's' cricket has become an achievement, Chamari offers an opportunity for us to celebrate. She is great, of course! Comparisons are a different things. Apples and oranges I presume.

    Lakshman Gunasekara Thursday, 25 April 2024 09:03 AM

    Fully agree with this sports writer and must congratulate him for artfully and creatively digging up and scooping an angle of News - the full values of this sportswoman's achievement - that had remained hidden from our sports newscape. This is high class journalism. Hats off to Mirror for its professional reporting and informing the public. De

    Lesser cricketers Thursday, 25 April 2024 10:45 AM

    Thanks for your comment. Reading the others before one could easily see why SL is in the current predicament. The author did not compare Chamari with any of the men who played for SL. He was merely pointing that she was a shining star in a team with mediocre players; for long time. She had to carry the entire burden herself and in achieving what she had. Her consistent performance is a testament of her resolve and steadfast mental strength.The men mentioned all had reasonably good players playing along with them. They never carried the burden alone. One idiot mentioned about lighter balls. The question is to compare what Chamari achieved in women's cricket with what these men achieved in men's cricket, for SL. In my opinion she has done incredibly well and c/sould be considered the greatest cricketer ever, upto now for SL. When men's cricket in SL is discussed I have never seen Mahadevan Sathasivam and few other pre-test era names mentioned. Does it mean they were lesser cricketers?

    Cecil Hedwige Thursday, 25 April 2024 09:38 AM

    Well done Chamari.You have put our downtrodden country back to a good and favourable position. Hats off for the good work.

    Ram Thursday, 25 April 2024 10:13 AM

    Wont be surprised if some of our dumbos next want her as a presidential candidate

    Damith Thursday, 25 April 2024 11:00 AM

    What is your definition of greatest? If it's based on talent - then no she's not (not even close to Aravinda de Silva's calibre). If it's based on records - then still no (her records are likely to be broken but those of someone like say Murali is likely to stand the test of time). If it's based on player of the match/series awards - still no (there's no better match winner than Murali for Tests and Sanath for ODIs). Greatest women's cricketer for SL - without a doubt

    Not Silly Point Thursday, 25 April 2024 12:13 PM

    It is unfair to say the speed is higher in men's cricket and therefore men's cricket is superior. It is the performance, consistency, and attitude that must be compared. Chamari has been very consistent over a long period of time and compared to other female cricketers she has been always on top.

    Cherath Thursday, 25 April 2024 12:20 PM

    Powerful batter Chamari is, no doubt. But her weaknesses in batting, particularly in strokes of defence and almost non existant drives all along the ground have accounted for the lack of a string of respectable scores. Once she connects the ball she can send it soaring in any direction. She gets out bowled regularly on swinging deliveries and in trying blast every ball. To illustrate all this in contrast look at Sangakkara, Ponting, Carl Hooper etc.

    Reza Thursday, 25 April 2024 02:33 PM

    Don’t be silly, maybe the greatest women cricketer. No one watches women’s cricket, and why the men’s teams purse is shared to keep them going. No disrespect to females it’s just relating to strength

    R.M.Munasinghe Thursday, 25 April 2024 03:04 PM

    She is great, and also compareable with the other sportsmen and women, who made Sri lanka proud. I find that during the present era it is specilly sports personnel, and scientists who make crying mother Lasnka happy. Keep it up daughter.

    Chathura Liyanagama Monday, 29 April 2024 09:48 AM

    Right up there ! Without a doubt .. What a Champ.. Her technique is second to none. She is a match winner.. Not only her stats speak of her achievements, one should take in to consideration how many of her greatest innings came in match winning efforts (over 90%). Being great and putting those kind of stats as she has in a team where there aren't many superstars (with due respect to other players) and being captain carrying all that responsibility is just amazing. When greats such as Sanga,Mahela,Sana,Aravinda performed at their peaks they had way more support and lot less responsibility and waaaaaay more resources ! Oh and yeah add her bowling skills to the mix :-) Chamari is simply outstanding !


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