GWEN HERAT torch bearer to SL cricket | Daily News

GWEN HERAT torch bearer to SL cricket

I leave the men’s cricket scene this week to pay tribute to an irrepressible lady who dared don pads and bat for Sri Lanka, not only women’s cricket but also the men’s game and take it to unimaginable heights and savour the grand success with the women cricketers are enjoying now. She is none other than the former President of women’s cricket GWEN HERAT,who deserves to be flagged in ‘SPORTS LEGENDS’ today.

HERAT for her grand contribution to the game was popularly and unanimously elected President of the Puttalam District Cricket Association. She held that prestigious post for eight years and still holds the record as being the one and only woman to do and also participate in discussions of SLC when GaminiDissanayake was President.

HERAT turned Puttalam District Cricket Association around starting from school level to professionals. She invited the 1996 World Cup champions to showcase their talents against a Puttalam DCA X1 fresh after their historic victory in the final in Lahore. This game attracted a packed crowd at the Sir Albert Peiris Stadium and had fans blocking traffic to watch their heroes in action.

Dedicated work

HERAT’S untiring, honest and dedicated work for the improvement of the game for men and women did not go unnoticed and SINGER quickly moved into being the official sponsor.

The International Cricket Council who realized her potential and were amazed and invited her to sit on a panel where she batted for full membership for women cricketers at a conference held in South Africa in 2005 beating several other countries who were seeking full membership.

In 1997 she was unanimously appointed as founder President of Women’s cricket by the International Women’s Cricket Conference in New Zealand.

Cricket administration

HERAT took to cricket administration like a duck to water and was spotless, clean and forthright. Not stopping at that she authored two comprehensive books on cricket which were best sellers. Her only regret was that GaminiDissanayake was not alive to watch her phenomenal rise in women’s cricket.

Dissanayake was so impressed with her knowledge and ideas for cricket that he once suggested to her to contest the Cricket Board elections as President. This story is true because I was close to Dissanayake and he mentioned it to me.

There was a time when the lord’s at the ICC after the 2010 World Cup were toying with the idea of reducing the World Cup men’s teams to 8 leaving out the non-test playing countries and confining it to the elite teams only.

Donned pads

HERAT donned pads immediately and took on the bouncers that were bowled and spearheaded a relentless campaign. She forced the ICC to see reason and keep the non-playingtest countries in the game so as to further improve, develop and promote the game.

She carried on a relentless attack that finally saw the ICC succumb and take a bow and concede to her request. And today the non-playing countries are in the big league thanks to HERAT’S aggressive play. One player who agreed and supported her in that venture was former New Zealand captain Ross Taylor.

I got to know HERAT in the 1970s when I was the Sports Editor of the ‘Daily Mirror’ and the ‘Times of Ceylon.’At that time she showed a lot of knowledge and keenness in the game of cricket and was a regular contributor to the sports pages and her comments were widely read and well received by the cricketers and readers.

Appreciated

It did not take long for her knowledge and enthusiasm to be appreciated and recognized and she was rewarded when the then incomparable president of Sri Lanka Cricket at that time late GaminiDissanayake to invite her to join the mainstream of cricket at SLC and contribute her vast knowledge for its improvement.

She showed her prowess first when she headed the Sri Lanka Women’s Cricket Association. Women’s cricket was then in its embryo and once HERAT took over she nursed and nurtured it to great heights which saw many lasses taking to the game which was male dominated before and the recognition and success it is now enjoying must be recorded in HERAT’S favour.

Her efforts did not go unrecognized or unrewarded. The Women’s Cricket Association of that time were quick to invite her to head the National Body and HERAT immediately took strike on a wicket that was not all that conducive for runs and immediately settled down to score for the game and the Sri Lankan lasses playing the Women’s World Cup now must be credited to her.

The Sri Lanka women cricketers took wing recently to the West Indies to play a series of matches. When the women toured last time it was when HERAT headed the Association where they proved their superiority winning all matches and proudly flying back with the trophy that was on offer.

All this begs a question: We have had two leading women as Presidents of our Country. Why not try a woman as President of SLC? - HERAT has the credentials. 


 

Add new comment

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Or log in with...