At nineteen years of age and now just months shy of her November 26,
2000, twentieth birthday, Achini Perera has already established herself
as a force in Canadian Women’s cricket and one of its rapidly rising stars!
For anyone who has known Achini for any meaningful length of time, that
she’s done so would be much less of a surprise and far more of a fulfilled
expectation given that she’s been fervently interested in and passionate
about cricket from the time that she was only a toddling six-year old!
Achini’s initial interest in cricket, which has grown to the passionate
obsession it has long since become, started with her eager use of her
brother Meigha’s pads, the minute he’d completed his training regime of
throw downs with their father. That soon grew to Achini’s ambitious, if not
devious, practice of having her own whites handy whenever she went to
watch her brother’s League matches, just in case “if perchance someone
from his team didn’t show up, I’d get the chance to play!”
Achini’s older brother Meigha Perera, as well as her father
Ajith, were unquestionably the greatest influences on her
early development as a cricketer. As father and son, they
would often have conversations about cricket strategy in the
family car while driving back home from Meigha’s matches.
Conversations to which Achini would be a very careful if
silent listener. Her father would also always take her to Ross
Lord Park for throwdowns with Meigha. Even though she was
just 6 years old, Achini would be busying herself observing
her brother while attempting to mirror his movements. The
kinesthetic and visual learnings she was being exposed at
that time were key to her early development.
Achini’s interest in modeling and learning from the cricketing
practices of those who were more experienced as players
which started with her brother was very quickly transferred
to others who were far more accomplished. Growing up,
Achini admired Sri Lanka’s Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar
Sangakkara, seeking to emulate them both as role models!
“Their technically correct shot selection was an eye-opener for
me, as an opening batswoman myself. Hearing the crowd’s
“ouuu” as well as the always complimentary reactions from
TV commentators to their exploits, made me appreciate fully
just how much class comes from technique!”
Now a well-established member of the National Women’s
Team and widely regarded as Canada’s best female
batswoman, Achini already has much to be proud of as
a result of her meteoric rise through the ranks of Canadian
cricket. Reflecting on what has been her proudest achievement as
a Canadian Cricketer thus far, she says unhesitatingly that she was
proudest when Gus Logie offered to give her throw downs when
she came early for Canadian training back when she was only 12.
“The look on my father’s face when he heard his idol talking about
his daughter’s capability, was the most touching and memorable
moment I’ve had as a Canadian cricketer!”
A very admirable sentiment that says just as much about the
importance of her father’s opinion as it does about her pleasure
in Coach Logie’s early recognition of her budding talents.
In the now three-quarters of a decade that have passed since
Coach Logie’s encouraging recognition of her potential, Achini’s
ultimate and greatest ambition as a cricketer has developed into
a desire to play top-class cricket with the female players she has
seen playing on televised broadcasts of international matches.
An ambition that she has already partially fulfilled as a result of
her own participation in a few Invitational XI Matches! “To see
them first hand, whether it was on the field or batting in the
same 11, was the ideal way to learn how their demeanour and skills
made them successful. I’m honored to say I’ve played alongside
or on the opposition of players such as Suzie Bates, Shashikala
Siriwardena and Anisa Mohammed. I’m still mindblown today!”
For Achini Perera playing on a national stage and representing
Canada as her country with other women was and will always be honorable. She and her Canadian teammates have made it a practice of always learning from each other while attempting
to take maximum advantage whenever the facilities and opportunities have been given. She bemoans the fact though that in all
honesty, the lack of support behind the scenes has been, even at the best of times, more than a little frustrating.! “I feel like we’re
expected to do well when we’re not given enough opportunities or funding to grow as cricketers. We are thankful, but we want to
be more prepared!”
In terms of what has been the most pleasing aspect of her experiences to date as a Canadian Women’s cricketer, Achini readily
indicates that before, during and after playing she has always so happily encouraged by the number of good things that those
who have witnessed her performances have had to say. Whether it is sharing their own knowledge or acknowledging her
accomplishments, it makes her proud to represent Canadian cricket knowing that those who are on the sidelines as spectators are
supporting her and her teammates, rather than being judgmental.
And as to what has been the most disappointing, Achini is just as vociferous in her response, justifiably even more so: “to train
year-round, but not have a Physio or Trainer to help when a teammate gets hurt, was not only disappointing but it also made my
blood boil!”
Not surprisingly, given her own experiences, Achini doesn’t think that there’s that much that now needs to be done for the levels of
participation in Canadian Women’s cricket to increase significantly. An abandonment of the far too often pervading petty politics,
the provision of more playing opportunities and the further promotion of cricket to younger generations of potential female players
are simple practices if and when implemented would serve to produce magical results.
Challenged as everyone else was by the life-altering effects of COVID-19 and its resultant lockdown, Achini’s solution was joyously
innovative, blessed as it might be with added side benefits for her cricket practicing! “I brought a new best friend home named
Romeo! He’s a Husky so he needs to be run around and played with for his continued happiness. He’s kept me on my toes and I am
in the midst of teaching him to fetch after throwdowns Ha Ha!”
When not engaging in her practice throwdowns, with or without Romeo’s willing assistance,
Achini has been busying herself with some typically ambitious cricket related plans for the
immediate future. She is actually in the process of beginning her own online videos and
classes for cricket! Using a Go Pro her intention is to show cricket related movements to
captive, interested individuals as if they themselves were engaging in the prescribed
actions. Showing first-hand videos of the mental aspect as much as the physical, will be
ideal for women and cricketers worldwide that may not be given the knowledge and
facilities to grow she says. Achini’s guiding belief is that being personal and giving her
thoughts before, during and after games could help other cricketers out there become
better athletes. Her further plans for the development of the online videos and classes
will soon be made available via YouTube and Instagram at updates@achinipereraa!
Achini’s advice to other young women like herself, by way of encouraging them
to explore the possibilities for becoming involved in Canadian Women’s
cricket, is best described in her very own words as follows!
“Girl, if you like to travel while playing a beautiful sport, this is definitely
the place to be. But I cannot stress this enough, the game becomes so
much easier when your body can handle it! The heat will kill you if
you do not prepare behind the scenes. You’re going to mess up, you’re
going to find it frustrating, but when you keep showing up and giving
100%, you will thank yourself. Also, ask questions from the women
around you! I promise we all want you to succeed and will do the
most to support you!”
Well provided advice from Achini Perera that is as sound and solid
as her exploits have been as Canadian Women’s Cricket’s rising star!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *