By Elmo Leonard
As Sri Lanka is engaged Down Under, the Sydney Morning Herald says: “The Australian Summer’s tri-series will be played amidst a backdrop of a pay dispute which sees Sri Lanka’s players owned as much as $5 million, due to a cash crisis within the country’s governing body… off the field its players union will be taking on its cash-strapped board in a row which threatens to send cricket in the island nation further into turmoil…”
The article ends with “Sri Lankan cricket has endured turbulence on and off the field since what proved to be a financially disastrous World Cup for last year. The team has also had two captains and four coaches in the past year and recently appointed South African Graham Ford just four months after signing Geoff Marsh to a two-year deal.”
Notwithstanding lying and medaling Sri Lankan politicians, the cricketing world knows that there is something radically wrong with Sri Lanka Cricket.
Bet, you my hat, the cricketing world outside do not believe that a new board, unanimously elected will put things to right. Their concern is that Sri Lanka which has a range of diversely talented cricketers continues playing at the highest level, unhindered by politics, and performs to their optimum, for cricket’s sake.
But, when Tillekeratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardena were asked, whether political interference hindered the results of the concluded series in South Africa, the two master batsmen wilted like two shy little cats and said no. Poor guys.
The whole cricketing world knows that Sri Lanka’s sports minister has to ratify the team chosen. Where else in the world, except perhaps, North Korea and Cuba does a sports minister have to authorize a sports team?
The Sports Minister tries to indoctrinate the masses that the government is appointed to administrate sports. Bullshit. A government is not elected into the different bodies of boards which govern sports. They act independently. A government can ensure that sports bodies function within the framework of the law. So, if the government wants cricket to do well, they must stop medaling and bring to book all those who have swindled the missing money.
When the Australians played Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka last year, and Lanka lost, the media were told in no uncertain terms, that journalists would not be allowed to ask questions on team selection. When journalists questioned about technique, did it keep Dinesh Chandimal out, and why was it, poor Marvan Atapattu retorted, `no questions of team selection, and I am doing a job.’ So, its common sense, that the politically appointed job is keeping mum.
Lanka today, not being the iron curtain of the past or bamboo curtain, for that matter, it has filtered down to the media from players that Sanath Jayasuriya has been instrumental in getting his favourites into the cricket team. And, the other day, Arjuna Ranatunga said that Sanath Jayasuriya, became a member of parliament, while playing cricket. So, Honourable Sanath Jayasuriya, it is not difficult to understand, in spite of denials, wanted to play in the World Cup, and Sanga opposed it, because, Sanath was past his playing days, and could not perform. After, that, Dilshan, accepted Sanath in a farewell series in England. Poor Dilshan.
So, in such a scenario, there can be no vision. Captains come and go. Coaches are hired and fired. Players are told by a man who cannot bowl off spin or orthodox left arm (as the case may be) that if they do not perform as gladiators to the entertainment of the political masters, lesser players will be brought in from outside to fit into their slots