Women's cricket in Sri Lanka has received a major boost as Sri Lanka Cricket awarded contracts to 30 young female players of potential, and named them in a national development squad.
Players were identified through the recently concluded Under-23 provincial tournament, and are set to be paid to train in their home provinces for the next six months, following which the squad will be re-evaluated, and the number of paid players whittled down to 20, a board release said.
"We conducted talent search camps throughout the island, identified the best players from each of these camps, and then conducted an Under-23 district tournament," SLC's convenor for women's cricket, Apsari Tillakaratne, said. "This led to the first ever Under-23 provincial tournament, and 68 of the best players from this tournament attended a training camp in Colombo. The national selectors have selected the most promising 30 players from that evaluative camp."
Part of the board's challenge in advancing women's cricket in Sri Lanka is convincing women to pursue cricket as a viable career option. To that end, the board has announced it will pay members of this development squad 12,000 LKR a month (approx. USD $ 80) - far from a living wage, but a sum that may help supplement players' regular income, which may in turn free them up for matches and training.
"The contracts will give the players a sense of security and stability, without which they cannot engage in playing cricket, as is not economically viable to them," SLC vice-president, K Mathivanan, said. "I am happy to see the progress we have made in these few short months. The face of women's cricket is changing."
Of the thirty players, 12 came from the Western Province, eight from the Southern Province, four from the Central Province, three from the North Central province, two from Uva, and one from Wayamba.