Read all about the life of Sri Lanka Wicket-keeper Niroshan Dickwella, hear about what it’s like to be a Christian in Sri Lanka, and his pride at representing his country:
How special is it to play Cricket for Sri Lanka?
“There are 22 million people living in Sri Lanka and only 11 can go out and play in a single match, so I’m really glad and proud that I am one of them at the moment, when you wake up in the morning you feel proud of yourself, every time. It’s a great opportunity to make your country proud.”
Growing up who was your sporting role model?
“Kumar Sangakkara was my role model because he was a wicket-keeper, he was left-handed and went to my school as well, he’s from Kandy. That made me follow him and I had number 11, his jersey number when I was playing for the Sri Lanka Under 19’s. Eventually I had to change my number because I played with him!”
What’s the best thing about being a professional Cricketer?
“There are so many things, my career has helped me to take care of my family, my sister, my friends and the popularity that I have now is all because of Cricket. I got Cricket because of my God, God gave it to me.”
Tell us about the tattoo on your arm, which says Philippians 4:13. . .
“I got this tattoo a few years ago and I see it every time that I go out to bat. No one would believe me, but I say a small prayer to Jesus before I face every single ball when I bat. When I feel uncomfortable out in the middle, I just look at this verse and I then feel confident, I feel like I have Jesus next to me.”
Why do you believe in Jesus?
“My father was a Buddhist but my mother a Christian, so I was baptised when I was small. I went to Church and learnt about Jesus at Sunday school. As Christians know, when you get baptised, my parents pledged to help me and then I will take over from my parents. Since then Jesus has helped me throughout my career.”
Is it difficult, being a Christian in Sri Lanka?
“There is a bit of criticism going on in Sri Lanka at the moment but I don’t care about criticism because I always believe in my God. I want to show non-believers what I can do through God, I want to praise him in the middle and show everyone that I am His child.”
In your Sri Lanka dressing room there are Buddhists, Hindus, Christians, do you get the chance to share your faith with others and are they interested?
“We are used to arguing about some Bible parts and verses, sometimes we used to say, this is what it means, we’ve had a few chats about that. Sometimes when we hang out, or go for a coffee we talk about God, but in this country a Christian wouldn’t really like to open up and say that Jesus is my God, because it is a Buddhist country. There’s nothing bad about that, but I’m not ashamed, I will talk about God to anyone. If I have a chance to explain what I have gone through and what I have become, through Christ, I would love to.”
Do you manage to get to Church, with your busy cricket schedule?
“We go to Church and if we are in another country, if we get a chance we will go, even alone, I don’t mind. I ask others to come before a match. If I get a chance to take anyone to Church or teach them anything about Christianity, I will do.”
What advice do you have for young aspiring cricketers in Sri Lanka?
“If you’re training do it properly and if you are studying, study hard. You will get what you want if you give it 100% with both your ability and your faith.”