Hiruka emulates Sanath
In 1997, a team of women cricketers apprehensively set foot into the tournament, not knowing what to expect. But mind you it was the Woman’s Cricket World Cup. With next to no experience, the Sri Lankan Women’s Cricket Team made their first appearance on the international stage at this event.
Thirty-one-year-old Hiruka Fernando was part of this team, and now looks back on her nine year career as a cricketer, as an experience that added a great deal to her life. “I was always extremely keen on sports”, she recalled, adding that in her life as a student sports was one of the key components.
A student of Holy Family Convent, Dehiwela, she captained her school softball team, was an active member of the Netball and Athletics teams. However, cricket had always been her favourite sport.
“My biggest inspiration came from the legendary Sanath Jayasuriya”, says Hiruka enthusiastically. “I have not encountered any other player who has inspired me as much.” Hiruka’s style of playing has, on occasion, been compared to that of Jayasuriya.
And having left school, she furthered that interest, joining the Sri Lankan Women’s Cricketing Team, (coached by Ms. Gwen Herath) as one of the main players in the batting line up. “Joining the cricket team, being lucky enough to have a wonderful coach, and having the opportunity to compete internationally was something of a life’s dream for me”, said Hiruka shyly. “Competing at the World Cup for the second time in the year 2000, we felt far more confident of ourselves, and were able to enjoy ourselves much more, as opposed to our previous time at the World Cup.”
In fact, at the World Cup of 2000, the Sri Lankan Team was placed sixth, going on to beat South Africa at the world cup in 2005. Now working at Unichela Garments in MAS Holdings, Hiruka has retired from the Sri Lankan team, and focuses all her attention on her family.
Hiruka is married to Primal Liyanage of the popular rock band Flame, and they have a young son- Hershel Primrock Liyanage. Women cricketers are indeed something of a rarity, but, according to Hiruka, there is a great deal of potential in the women’s cricket scene, with many young upcoming players waiting to take the spotlight. In the years to come, I would love to be remembered for my playing, reflects Hiruka. “The love of sports, especially cricket has been a very big, very special part of my life, and I look forward to what the future holds for my fellow cricketers.”