Matches (26)
IPL (3)
T20I Tri-Series (2)
County DIV1 (5)
County DIV2 (4)
3-Day Trophy (2)
Clubs T20 [SLC] (4)
Lalitpur [W] (1)
Charlotte Edwards (4)
ENG v PAK (W) (1)
Free Hit

Let us now worship Chamari Athapaththu

She's lording it over cricket like nobody's business at the moment

Chamari Athapaththu takes a selfie with fans after Sri Lanka beat Scotland, Scotland vs Sri Lanka, Women's T20 World Cup Qualifier, final, Abu Dhabi, May 7 2024

Picture this: Chamari Athapaththu is the No. 1 run-scorer from Full Member teams in women's T20Is since April last year (658 runs), and No. 2 in ODIs (673 runs)  •  ICC/Getty Images

*Knock knock.*
Oh, hello there. Sorry to bother you, but I would like to talk to you about something important.
It won't take long. Your laundry can wait. Those emails don't need to be answered immediately, right? You can still pick your kids up from school tomorrow.
I'm here to talk to you about the saviour of Lankan women's cricket, Chamari Athapaththu.
I'm sure you've heard something like this before. It probably feels overwrought, too sentimental, too generous.
But this is different.
First, think about the times you've heard about Sri Lankan women's cricket over the last couple of years. When they beat New Zealand in an ODI series at home, say. When they beat England in a T20I series away from home. When they drew an away ODI series in South Africa for the first time, then beat them in the T20I series.
Who do you think was central to all this?
Let us now read from the scriptures… uhh, scorecards. And let us lay out her glory in the hallowed bulletpoint format.
- On June 27 of the year 2023 CE, Our Lady rained down 108 unbeaten runs off 83 deliveries as Sri Lanka defeated New Zealand for the first time in any format.
- Six days later she summoned a majestic 140 not out off 80 balls as Sri Lanka came crashing down upon New Zealand again.
- Nine days after that, Athapaththu pummelled, in splendour, an 80 not out off 47 to secure Sri Lanka's first ever T20I win over New Zealand.
- In England, she struck 55 off 31, then 44 off 28, as Sri Lanka vanquished that opposition in a series for the first time
- Against South Africa she struck 195 not out off 139 balls, as Sri Lanka became the first women's team ever to chase down a target of over 300 (a milestone the men's team had also been the first to achieve, way back in 1992).
- In the T20I series against South Africa she struck 73 off 46 in the decider, which won Sri Lanka the trophy.
These are not little performances. Athapaththu is not just the talisman of her side, she is one of the greatest forces in cricket, propelling her team higher than they have ever been.
And there are great supporting acts: Harshitha Samarawickrama, Kavisha Dilhari, Vishmi Gunaratne, as well as veteran bowlers such as Inoka Ranaweera and Udeshika Prabhodani. But Sri Lanka are hugely reliant on Athapaththu providing both the fire power and substance in most innings.
We haven't spoken about her bowling here, which has been immense. Or her captaincy, which has brought about the richest season her team has ever had.
She was only a late call-up to the last WBBL, but wound up being the player of the tournament there. She was largely snubbed by the WPL, and yet, in thumping 195 not out against South Africa a month later, produced one of the greatest innings of all time.
Not even the highlights of that innings are available on YouTube, or on any easily accessible platform. Which is why we're here talking to you now, directly.
Without Athapaththu's perfomances, Sri Lanka would not win quite so often, or perhaps would not play at all - Sri Lanka Cricket not having bothered to organise matches for the women's team through the course of the pandemic, though the board's officials boasted of a financial surplus soon after.
We're not trying to start a new religion. We don't think Athapaththu wants that. But she is ruling cricket like almost no one is ruling it right now.
And she deserves so much better than a cult following.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo. @afidelf

news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news
news