The mess Sri Lankan cricket is in

I’m surpised we continue to reach finals despite having such unsuitable individuals in charge of our cricket board.

Our current chief selector, Ashantha de Mel, admitted that he has no clue about our under-19 talent despite being in the panel from 2006 to 2010 and being reappointed in 2012.

… Dhananjaya, who is a mystery spinner of sorts with several variations, did not miss out on the under-19 World Cup due to a lack of skill or unimpressive performances. In 12 matches for his alma mater Mahanama Vidyalaya in Panadura this season he took 60 wickets, according to reports.

"We [the national selection panel] took over the under-19 selections only after the Asia Cup. We were not familiar with them [under-19 players] because we had not worked with them," chief selector Ashantha de Mel admitted to the Daily Mirror newspaper in Sri Lanka.

"We had to go with the recommendations of the former selection committee [when picking the under-19 World Cup squad] because we were not in a position to look at anything. They had selected a squad of thirty and we had to work within that squad and what they gave.

"We basically had to agree because we didn’t know anything. We hadn’t seen the boys."

We have a board that
cares very little about Test cricket,

SLC chief executive Ajit Jayasekara denied the motive for foregoing the Tests was to avoid a clash with the IPL, but failed to provide an alternate reason. He said the WICB had put forward the idea, and the SLC had agreed to the change in schedule after holding discussions. Jayasekara said scheduling an ODI series instead of following the FTP would end up being "more lucrative for the board".

… the change in the tour programme is also a continuation of the SLC’s recent trend of culling Tests from Sri Lanka’s schedule. Two tests against India in July became five ODIs and a Twenty20 and the three Tests scheduled for England in March became a two-Test series as the IPL approached. With the schedule now adjusted, Sri Lanka will not play an away Test against a top-eight opposition between January and December.

And they care very little about the fans or about the dwindling number of Sri Lankans who still turn up at Test matches. In March, cricket board officials proved that money was more important to them when they raised prices unannounced for the Test series against England, after realising they could milk thousands of visiting English fans for every penny they had. They did not care if the locals could not afford it.

For the first time in recent history, SLC will be charging cricket fans more to watch a single day’s play in a Test match than what it costs to witness a World Cup fixture. According to the ICC’s website, the most expensive ticket for the World Twenty20 tournament in September is priced under Rs 5000.

"Yes, there is a substantial increase from previous tours and the World Cup," secretary of SLC Nishantha Ranatunga told reporters.

"We need to develop the game of cricket in Sri Lanka, so whenever there is an opportunity and a demand for tickets it is our policy to put prices up. We will get the best deal."

The local turnout for Test matches, unlike ODIs, has generally been low in Sri Lanka in recent years, with fans opting to watch Test cricket on television. Local television rights have been awarded to Carlton Sports Network, which incidentally Ranatunga is the CEO of.

"This is not a move to develop the game. This will keep away cricket fans from Test cricket, at a time when interest in Test cricket is dwindling among local fans," argued Melvin Cooray, a Sri Lankan cricket enthusiast from Colombo who had planned to head to Galle to witness the third and fourth day’s play. According to Cooray, the price of tickets will now exceed his accommodation costs, which has forced him to cancel his trip to the southern coast.

The stadiums owned by the board are maintained by the military because the board cannot afford to maintain these venues.

The decision was made after Sri Lanka Cricket, ridden with a debt of $23 million after fixing up stadiums to host the 2011 Cricket World Cup, was unable to pay salaries, officials said.

Players were unpaid for a year (some reports suggest it was longer) until a state-owned bank provided a loan to the board to pay their salaries in February.

The Federation of International Cricketers Association fears the parlous state of Sri Lanka Cricket’s finances leaves them at risk of becoming insolvent without a cash bailout from the country’s government.

The players are seeking to recoup payments owed to them from as far back as 12 months ago when Sri Lanka made the final of last year’s World Cup, which it co-hosted with India and Bangladesh.

The International Cricket Council intervened in December when it bypassed the board and facilitated a direct $US2 million payout to Sri Lanka’s players.

The SLC election is said to have been a total sham that saw Upali Dharmadasa, Nishantha Ranatunga and Asanga Seneviratne — close associates of the Sri Lankan president — take over the board. Seneviratne is also the the president of Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union. Mahinda Rajapaksa’s son is the captain of the national rugby team.

"It appeared to be a camouflage, an eye wash to meet the requirements of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and to show the world that there is democracy here. It’s sad to state but we have lost confidence in the system…

The minister of sport is likely to extend their term. But only if they change Sri Lanka’s domestic cricket structure.

“Give me the impending changes in the cricket structure and I will give you the promised four year term”. This is the message that Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage has for Sri Lanka Cricket officials. “I have nothing against any individuals in the cricket administration, but, we find that the prevailing system in the country is wrong. We want that changed,” the minister said.

In comes former ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat — paid a handsome sum to suggest changes to the domestic cricket structure and administration. Lorgat’s ‘independent’ recommendations will help SLC officials in the event clubs, who currently have voting rights, oppose any changes that will make them redundant in the voting process and take the matter to court. His recommendations will most likely take away the voting rights of clubs and ensure the domestic structure conforms to a TV-friendly tournament to fall in line with commitments made and contracts signed with Somerset Entertainment Ventures who have been handed rights to conduct the domestic provincial T20, one-day and first-class tournaments.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has appointed Haroon Lorgat, the former ICC chief executive, as a special advisor to help the board revamp its domestic cricket structure and improve the administration of cricket in the country. Lorgat will work with SLC until October 31, 2012.

It is hard to believe that these changes are being made with the best interests of our cricket in mind. Given their track record, it is understandable that many view this administration’s every move with scepticism.

We should be content with whatever results our team achieves, and not be aiming too high, because they continue to be hindered by a board that comprises of individuals who are merely in place for the benefit of politicians, to fulfil their agendas, not for the development of our sport or for the benefit of our cricketers.

If the cricket board was governed by qualified and capable indviduals, the cricketers would not be stressing about their wages. If the selection panel consisted of independent full-time selectors, preferably former players, working to a well defined selection policy, we would see more talent being spotted and more youth being injected into the squad to prepare for the retirement of seniors.

The full impact of years of government meddling in our cricket has not yet been felt.

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