No, it is not Lasith Malinga’s ankle or his wobbling mid gut. It is not the protruding sides of Thisara Perara. It is not the hamstring that woke Dinesh Chandimal up from his world cup dream. It is not Dhammika Prasad’s or several other Sri Lankan players’ niggles and injuries that cruelly ended their day at the big stage. It is the Sri Lankan Cricket Board that is broke and broken, yet continue to be run by a group of individuals who do not seem to be held accountable for their misdeeds. If the replacement rate of failed openers in the Sri Lankan teams is anything to go by, every one of twenty million Sri Lankans has a shot at becoming the president of Sri Lanka Cricket. Yet the board officials, unlike the cricketers, are held to a very different standard by the cricketing public for no good reason.
Mismanaged boards and their accounts are not uncommon among the top cricket playing nations-just ask a Caribbean player. Cricket boards of Zimbabwe, Pakistan and South Africa (in the past) are marred with disputes and at times with empty coffers. Even the cricketing financial giants are no strangers to controversy. While most other nations’ cricket board troubles are heard on global stage and more importantly reflected in their respective teams’ performances, SLC manages to sneak under the radar without batting many eyelids. Just like their team at global tournament, SLC somehow manages to scrounge up the cards to sit at the big table.
It is no secret that the SLC is bankrupt, makes shady deals to elect their officials and constantly struggles to meet the needs of their national players, let alone the domestic cricketers. Almost every other national player has a Cinderella story, at times literally; at some point in their careers some of these players have worn someone else’s shoes. They have played with a borrowed kit while spending the night in another player’s parents house. It is a small miracle that the Sri Lankan team continues to produce top quality cricket and cricketers. It is a bigger miracle how the administrators manage to get away with their inefficiencies, inadequacies and a long list of other “in ….”s for this long.
When Lasith Malinga decided to chose IPL over his local Twenty20 team, the whole country was up in arms. He became a “parayah” and the cricketing pariah of mother Lanka. But one only has to dig a little deeper to understand the sentiment that must have driven Malinga to make such decisions. Hundreds of young, talented aspiring cricketers like Malinga, specially from social and economic backwaters, rarely are rewarded for their exceptional talent early in their careers. Malinga got lucky, while many just wilt under the hot Sri Lankan sun.
Sri Lanka may or may not make it past the quarterfinals in this world cup. But they have proven time and again that they belong at the top and have the talent and class to match the world’s best. One only has to imagine what they will do if every bit of talent around the country is properly harnessed and given a secure platform to develop their game. Despite the lack of coaching and proper structure working in Sri Lanka’s favor to produce unorthodox talent, it is time to hold the board accountable for continuing fail at building a strong domestic circuit— an absolute necessity if Sri Lanka are to become a true global force in cricket and not go into every world tournament with odds heavily stacked against their favor. Almost-unpaid Sri Lankan cricketers winning the World T20 is an example one too many.
It is time SLC is held accountable and become the transparent and professional entity that it is supposed to be. It is time for the cricketing public at home and abroad to ask serious questions from the board officials. To start off, it is time to turn those memes and cartoons to probe the board officials, instead of castrating the players who took measures to make sure they will never have to worry about shoes again — #substitute SLC.