In their second season, two more matches to be played, SLSC T20 Warriors were crowned Wellington Division 2 Winners for 2019/20 season. COVID19 put a stop to all Club Cricket around New Zealand so the last 2 weeks of the summer season could not be completed. SLSC T20 Warriors were tied 1st on the table but Net Run Rate gave them the edge over the other team for the title.
Inception of this team involved a couple of guys; passionate cricketers met randomly in Wellington – Charaka Ranasinghe and Ruwan Weerakkody. Both moved from Auckland where Charaka started his Club Cricket career playing for Sri Lankan Cricket Club back in 1997/98 as a teenager.
After an extended break from Club Cricket, Charaka started playing again for a work team, in Wellington Last Man Stands league in 2016/17 summer. Ruwan joined the team in 2017/18 and they also started filling-in for a friend’s team in Wellington One Day league. Around the same time, they got randomly introduced to a group of guys to play at United Sri Lanka Association’s (USLA) Annual T20 competition in January 2018. Ruwan also joined Charaka on Vintage league (on Sundays) representing Sri Lankan Masters in later part of 2017/18 summer. At a Sri Lankan Masters’ get-together, the idea was hatched to organise a T20 side to play in Cricket Wellington’s T20 league. Sri Lankan Sports Club (SLSC) in Wellington had plans to expand the number of teams to cater to the players who are unable to dedicate the full day (Saturday) for Cricket. 2pm start for T20 league was attractive for few current players as well.
Winning Team 2019/20
After the initial discussions, Ruwan started organising players and he had a team organised by mid-2018. Only handful of guys had played Cricket at any level (School or Club); consisted of Rugby players and Soccer players mostly. The love for Sport in general and the social Cricket experience created the enthusiasm amongst them to move to next level – Club Cricket. They decided to join SLSC and register a team for 2018/19 becoming the inaugural T20 team. Charaka was appointed as Captain and chief organiser – Ruwan was appointed as Deputy at the SLSC AGM (2018).
First game of the 2018/19 season was washed out and within days Charaka suffered a dislocation (one of his fingers) during SLSC training. The first official game was played on 17th of November 2018 and SLSC T20 Warriors won their first ever T20 game by 6 runs under the leadership of stand-in captain. Deservingly so, Ruwan was also named as the Man of the Match. It was a unique occurrence for SLSC – a brand new team, winning their 1st official fixture. They named the team as SLSC T20 Warriors and ended the 2018/19 season as 4th on the points table, only losing 5 games out of 15 they had played.
SLSC T20 Warriors strengthened their side with new recruits and some SLSC senior players also joined changing the code to T20. Due to the popularity SLSC expanded with another T20 team, increasing their player based to around 65 – highest ever in SLSC’s 30+ year history. Ruwan was appointed as Captain and Rasa Perera was appointed as Deputy at the SLSC AGM (2019).
The new look SLSC T20 Warriors started their season with a rain affected loss but kept their winning momentum going for majority of the season. Only losing 3 games out of 16, they were top of the table (with 66 points) when the season ended abruptly. It was an team effort with outstanding performances; two T20 centuries (fastest off 45 deliveries by Nuwan Weerasoriya) and eleven fifties (three each by Suranga Godage and Uday Krishnan) with the bat; 17 wickets, including two T20 hattricks, a five wicket haul for the season (by Jude Peiris) with the ball. Ruwan Weerakkody ended up with 335 runs (including a hundred and a fifty) and 18 wickets at 21.61.
The journey of this team to get to top of their division within two years is such remarkable achievement. SLSC T20 Warriors are currently preparing to play Wellington Division 1 in coming 2020/21 season.