Sri Lankan cricketers and fans deserve better

Cricket Australia has invested a considerable sum to invite the chart-topping British electronic musicians Basement Jaxx to perform in Australia to draw in more youth to cricket matches this summer. But the virtually bankrupt SLC can’t even put together a decent website and earn income from it, nor can they devise new means to generate funds to get them out of the hole they have dug themselves into.

Sri Lankan board officials are clueless when it comes to modern trends and technology. Their focus is mainly on making money through TV rights, which is perhaps why they prefer to play more ODIs and T20s than Test cricket. Sacrificing the five-day game for money has become a preferred and acceptable option for them.

Cricket Australia chose Basement Jaxx to appeal to 20-35 year olds and push a summer party vibe.

"One-day cricket is becoming a big social day out," Cricket Australia’s marketing manager, Julian Dunne, said.

"People are dressing up in costumes. It’s more than just the cricket, we want to extend the entertainment on and off the field."

By providing more value to fans who purchase a ticket to watch a cricket game, not only can Cricket Australia draw in more people (increase ticket sales), but they can also increase the price of tickets. It is just one out of many well devised schemes to help Australian cricket generate revenue to develop their cricket nationwide.

By contrast, Hilal Suhaib wrote last month on how Sri Lanka Cricket operates:

When this Upali Dharmadasa–led executive committee took over from the previous government–appointed interim–committee in January, the board’s debt is said to have been at a little over nine billion rupees. Dharmadasa said at the time that it "will be a struggle for about five years." But nine months into his one–year term, the president of SLC and his administration have shown that they are incapable of creating new avenues to generate revenue. His administration has instead suggested slashing jobs at the board, reducing the wages of players who are already some of the lowest paid amongst the top teams and taking away the players’ earnings from image rights paid to them by the ICC. While cricket boards in India, Australia and England rake in vast sums of money through lucrative sponsorship deals, events, the sale of memorabilia and merchandise and advertising on their websites, SLC continues to rack up its debt and appear to be content with a handful of traditional revenue streams. Instead of forward–thinking, well–qualified business professionals in charge, the board has been plagued with our politicians’ lackeys. If the last SLC election is anything to go by, this current administration will continue on for several more years; one can only hope that the damage is not irreversible.

Let’s face it, SLC has one individual who makes all the important decisions — Nishantha Ranatunga. The rest are merely sock puppets who are paid to make it appear as though the board is a normally functioning organisation. Take the CEO for example, he is probably the highest paid spokesperson among all cricket boards. His main task these days appears to be to talk to the media, as Ranatunga and Dharmadasa have opted to keep a low-profile of late.

Does SLC still have a marketing department? Do they have a budget to work with? Probably not. Where will the cricket board be in a decade? As far as one can tell, in more debt and with more incompetent people in charge of it.

SLC needs a complete overhaul. Those who have served in it before must not be allowed back in. Professionals with the right qualifications must hold important positions, while impartial directors overlook their performance. Our talented cricketers deserve better.

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