‘Airtel Fastest’, in their mission of covering the perimeter of the paradise island for the finest budding fast bowling talent did not halt at gender differences. The competition provided equal opportunities for both men and women to showcase their talents and in the attempt, Shayani Senarathene, was unearthed.
“I have two older brothers. They were my first coaches. Just like every other household, I played cricket with them on the road and inside our house. That`s when my love for the sport started.”
Born in the hill-capital of the country, Shayani took on her primary education at Wattegama Balika Vidyalaya, and for her senior years, shifted to Theldeniya National College to further support her dream of becoming a professional cricketer.
“I was six years old when I started playing cricket and by the time I was fifteen I played my first Division I match for a club by the name of Southern Ladies.”
Shayani, was the Captain in her age-group at the Theldeniya National College, where they emerged as champions consecutively in both the years. Her mother has been a stalwart behind her career thus far. Every corner the daughter stepped in, the mother was right behind, travelling across the country. In-fact, during the initial selection of ‘Airtel Fastest’, even before Shayani arrived at the grounds, her mother was present.
“I didn`t know about this competition. It was my brother who had applied on behalf of me. I returned home from a school trip and was told I had to immediately rush to the grounds for selection. But when I got there, my mother was already at the grounds waiting for me.
I somehow managed to participate in the selection. I had to bowl with the last batch, who were all boys. I was able to clock the required speed in the first round to quality for the next round.”
Matching-up the qualifying criteria, Shayani advanced ahead in the competition. Being a part of the ‘Airtel Fastest’, she was able to experience top-notch training from Sri Lanka`s premium coaches and players. Both Anusha Samaranayake and Chaminda Vaas shared their knowledge with the blooming cricketers.
“Anusha (sir), told me not to change my action and that it was similar to Lasith Malinga. He taught me the little tweaks that I should make to avoid injuries. I had to change my action in the past due to spinal injuries, so the tips were very helpful.
Chaminda (sir), taught us many things from the run-up to the release. He also gave me tips on how to maintain my body weight and my fitness.”
It is vital to unearth players in the caliber of Shayani Senarathene to support Women`s cricket in Sri Lanka which can bring glory to the country.
“This program is especially helpful for women players like us. There are many women cricketers who are very talented around the country. It’s sad that the sports is unfortunately male dominant in Sri Lanka. So opportunities such as this is very valuable for us to pursue the sport. ‘Airtel Fastest’ in addition to providing the opportunity to showcase talent also motivates us to continue with our dream.”
Lasith Malinga, Sri Lanka`s bowling sensation, took on the world, cramping back-to-back wickets at the World Cup. A hope of new era to dawn with Shayani Senarathene, the female ‘Slinga-Malinga’,