The Australian Cricket Awards are always a chance to celebrate the talent and achievements of cricket players off the pitch. On Wednesday night, Chamari Athapaththu won the WBBL Player of the Tournament award.
The 33-year-old captain of Sri Lanka's women's Twenty20 International was signed to Sydney Thunder as a last-minute replacement in the WBBL after initially being overlooked in the overseas player draft.
"The last year I've been playing really good cricket in Sri Lanka as a captain and as a team, so I'm enjoying that and I'm keeping that momentum (going)," she told cricket.com.au in November 2023.
"Always positive and fearless – that's my game plan every time. I've worked hard in the nets in the last six, seven months and we beat New Zealand in Sri Lanka, we beat England on their home soil. So as a captain and as a player, I'm feeling pretty good and confident about myself and my team so I keep continuing this form in the WBBL."
In November, Sydney Thunder announced a special seating zone at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) would be named after the batter for the WBBL derby clash – called the Chamari Bay.
"I am truly honoured and thrilled to have a dedicated seating zone named after me at the Sydney Cricket Ground," Athapaththu said at the time.
"It's a special moment for me, and I am looking forward to the match at this iconic venue. I hope 'Chamari Bay' becomes a gathering place for cricket enthusiasts and brings people together to celebrate the spirit of the game."
Athapaththu's victory comes after she was named the ICC Women's ODI Cricket of the Year for 2023 at the ICC Awards held earlier this month.
Indian batter Virat Kohli was named the ICC Men's ODI Cricketer of the Year, while Pakistani Australian Usman Khawaja won the ICC Men’s Test Cricketer of the Year award, and India's T20I beast Suryakumar Yadav landed the ICC Men's T20I Cricketer of the Year award. Rachin Ravindra was named ICC Men's Emerging Cricketer of the Year.
Unfortunately, Khawaja missed out on the Shane Warne Men's Test Player of the Year Award at the Australian Cricket Awards this week. The 37-year-old had been hotly anticipated to take out the award, but it was Nathan Lyon who was announced as the winner.