Middlesex Cricket announced that Sri Lankan born left-arm spinner Thilan Walallawita has been granted British Citizenship on March 29. Walallawita, now 23, has already endured more in his life than many, having narrowly escaped the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, which decimated large parts of his home country and claimed the lives of over 30,000 Sri Lankans.
In the wake of the tsunami, at the age of 12, he moved to England with his family and joined Potters Bar Cricket Club – and very soon found himself trialling for the Middlesex County Age Group sides.
A journey through the Age Group set-up and the Middlesex Academy followed before he established himself in the Club's Second Eleven. He finished the 2019 season as the Club's leading wicket-taker in the Second Eleven which resulted in him earning his first full professional contract with Middlesex in 2020.
He made both his first-class and T20 debuts later that summer and his List-A debut in 2021.
With Walallawita not having British Citizenship until now, he has been registered with the Club as an overseas player, however the Club will soon be able to register him as a local cricketer.
🗞️ | THILAN WALALLAWITA GRANTED BRITISH CITIZENSHIP— Middlesex Cricket (@Middlesex_CCC) March 29, 2022
💬 "I've been waiting for this moment for a very long time and it feels like today a massive weight has been lifted off my shoulders."
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Speaking of Thilan receiving British citizenship, Middlesex's Head of Men's Performance Cricket, Alan Coleman, commented:
"We are absolutely thrilled that Thilan is now in a position to be registered as a local cricketer and his career with the Club can continue to thrive.
"He is a hugely popular member of the dressing room here, and he has had quite the journey to reach this point. It's great to see his patience and hard work rewarded in this way and he can now focus on developing and improving his game.
"As a left-arm spinner with immense talent, Thilan is a rare breed in modern day cricket, and is someone that we have high hopes for in the game. We look forward to supporting him through the next phase of his career."
Walallawita himself was quite chuffed about the development himself. "I've been waiting for this moment for a very long time and it feels like today a massive weight has been lifted off my shoulders,'' he said. ''I've been a part of this county for ten years and since I first started it's been my ambition to play as a local player – at last that day has come. I can now concentrate fully on trying to cement my place in the side in all formats and lo longer worry about things off the field that have been out of my control.
"I would like to thanks the Club for all their support through this process and am looking forward to repaying their faith in me by delivering for them on the pitch. Hopefully I can play my part in what we all hope will be a successful period for the Club on the field.''