South Asian Heritage Month: Keswick's Sri Lankan cricket pro eyes international call-up

For the past ten seasons, Keswick Cricket Club's ranks have been bolstered by popular overseas professional player Geeth Kumara.

The 34-year-old became a firm favourite at Fitz Park, returning for ten consecutive stints. The 2021 season, however, was his last with the club. But rather than leaving the club short of a replacement, Kumara suggested one of his teammates from home to step in to his shoes.

Former Keswick Cricket Club overseas professional, Geeth Kumara Credit: Keswick Cricket Club

Enter Risith Upamal, a batting all-rounder from Colombo, looking for a club to play for ahead of his third season in the UK.

When Geeth mentioned the opportunity to play for Keswick to him, Risith jumped at the chance. He said: "I can't remember one guy playing consistently for ten years in the UK.

"He said of Keswick people everyone is good, club is good. He said players here have very good talent. That's why I am coming."

"My teammates look after me, everyone asking every day 'Rishi you fine?' Everyone helping me. Everyone look after me that's why I'm very happy".

Upamal and his teammates have quickly got used to each other Credit: Keswick Cricket Club

His performances have probably helped too. He scored a century against Dalton on his debut in April and has racked up many more important runs since, as the club compete for the Cumbria Premier Division title.

Upamal has adjusted well to the green pitches in England, which are in stark contrast to the dusty wickets the 25-year-old grew up playing on in Sri Lanka.

Teammate Arran Davies is first team wicketkeeper and says Upamal has proved to be a fantastic replacement for Kumara.

He said: "Rishi's come in and he's been brilliant. He's really warmed to the lads and the lads have warmed to him.

As well as his prolific batting, Upamal bowls off spin. Credit: ITV Border

Rishi is also a Level 2 qualified coach, so helps out with training sessions for the club's younger players too.

When he's not playing or coaching, Risith can often be found up a fell, enjoying all the Lake District has to offer. But he says hitting the heights of the cricketing world is what he has his sights firmly set on.

He said: "My target: play for Sri Lanka, definitely. I try next two three years, play Sri Lankan team."

He is not far from hitting that goal, but knows he has more work to do. If he can adapt to the international stage as seamlessly as he has to club cricket in Cumbria, we may be hearing about Risith Upamal for some time to come.