Sri Lankan born wicket-keeper batsman Srimantha Wijeyeratne has been around the Canadian cricket circuit since 2015 and has been a regular feature in their national side since then. It was just a few months back that Read Scoops caught up with this player when his team Vancouver Knights lifted the inaugural Global T20 Canada trophy in July 2018. He gave us some insights into that experience.
His next challenge was at CricketFest Canada in September 2018 and boy, did he shine there as well! Apart from the good scores, he pulled out some interesting shots as well, which caught quite a few eyes. Very recently however, he moved away from Canada for a small spell with Murrumbeena CC in Australia, as a part of the Cricket Southern Bayside Division 1 competition.
Everyone loves Australia, and Wijeyeratne would’ve loved it even more, considering how well he performed for the club during his time there. Cricket Canada recently recalled all their international players, which meant the player had to bid adieu, but not after he displayed some great skill in two games each of the 2-day, one day and T20 format for Murrumbeena CC.
His scores in the 2-day games were 3(6) and 97(141), followed by 8(14), 11(11) in the one dayers and 80(51), 27(31) in the T20s. It’s safe to say that this hard hitting batsman had a hand in both T20 victories, especially in the first one, where he guided his team to a staggering total of 221/3. Overall, he scored 226 runs in 6 innings with the team, at a healthy average of 37.7. We caught up with him once again, to know more about this recent experience down under. Keep reading…
Q. Srimantha, was this your first stint in Australia? How was the experience playing in those conditions?
“Yeah, it was my first time there. I earlier tried to play a season in Australia in 2009, but it didn’t go as expected, so I was forced to change my plans. As a batter, I loved the conditions. The ball was coming on nicely (compared to Canadian conditions). The only thing that took some adjusting was the bounce that varied whenever we played away from home.”
Q. What’s your take on the tournament and the people? How were you welcomed by the team?
“It was some really good standards of cricket. I didn’t expect it to be so good. Good cricket which builds character and toughness. I couldn’t have asked for any better teammates. They were really friendly from day one, and were always willing to help out in whichever way possible.”
“From what I witnessed, Murrumbeena CC was totally different when compared to other Aussie clubs. The players’ families played such a huge role in the club’s progress and its preparations which I really loved and will miss for sure. They were really friendly when I first arrived at the club and I’m pretty sad to be leaving them halfway through the season.”
Q. Any players you gelled well with in particular?
“The captain of the team, Brad Kruger, who played for Netherlands in the 2011 World Cup. It was pretty cool to find out that he made his debut against Canada while I made my debut against Netherlands. Thankfully we didn’t play against each other. He’s a machine. He’d bowl all day if the team needed and he carries the team in the batting department too. I loved pairing up with him with team strategies and I thought we clicked really well.”
“My opening partner Xavier Ross was someone I was close with too. We worked on our batting together and at a really young age, he has a technique that I’m kinda jealous of. He doesn’t know how good he could be, if he keeps working hard on his game. The head coach Paul Kelly’s two sons Tom and Will are two youngsters with immense talent. I think they are the future of the club and hopefully they can carry its legacy forward. Two players that really surprised me were the two poms in the team – Dan Parker and Jim Handley. Their fighting spirit in the middle with bat and ball is something I was able to learn out of. When they were batting together, it’s beautiful to watch; something that would’ve been appreciated by any cricket lover. Brett Hardham and Nuwan Karunaratne are two important players in the team as well, and two guys I was pretty close with. Although they haven’t performed to the best of their ability, I’m pretty sure a good performance from them is around the corner.”
Q. Will you miss the team now that you have headed back to Canada?
“Ahhh, I really hate goodbyes and it’s easy to say I’ll miss each one of them. I definitely will. Even though I was with them for a short period of time, I was able connect with them pretty well. It’s tough to leave in the middle of the season but it’s something I have to do and I have to move on. I wish them all the very best and hope they go on to achieve their goals.”
Q. 2 fifties in 6 innings. What’s your take on your individual performances in the tournament?
“Umm, I think it was okay. Could’ve been better and should’ve pulled the team through on a couple of occasions when I had the opportunity to finish the games off. 2 fifties in 6 innings looks good, but I think I could’ve done better.”
On a parting note, we asked Wijeyeratne to summarize his experience from start to end, including those who helped him through the journey. He said, “I loved my time with Murrumbeena. Sad to leave early. I wish them all the best and I’ll be (Can’t say rooting for them) following their scores with great interest. Hopefully, I cross paths with the Beena boys in the future.”
“Big thanks to Jarrod, the club president; Lee Hardham (my father like figure at Beena); Coach Paul Kelly and everyone else whose names I forgot to mention. A huge thank you and all the very best for the rest of the season. Also, my family (cousin Cham, his wife Stuti and my aunt and uncle) down there helped me so much to feel comfortable and be able to perform to the best of my ability. I’m really grateful to my cousin Cham for helping setting everything up. Without him, this stint wouldn’t have been possible. Thanks.”
Global T20 Canada recently announced that they will be hosting scouting trials over the next few weeks to shortlist a group of 18 players for annual full time contracts paying CAD 40,000 each per annum. This is why Wijeyeratne had to leave Australia midway, in order to prepare for this bigger challenge. I take this opportunity to wish him the best of luck on behalf of the entire team at Read Scoops.
– Dwayne Fernandes, Read Scoops