Who is to blame for the complete breakdown of discipline in Sri Lanka Cricket?

In early September, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) released a statement on its website titled, ‘Media reports implicating player misbehaviour’.

In the statement, SLC claimed that certain media organisations were misleading the public by publishing allegations pertaining to Dilshan’s behaviour on a tour to Zimbabwe in May/June 2010.

“As a responsible administrative body of Sri Lanka Cricket, we would like to state, that we do not take disciplinary action against players based on baseless allegations that are vindictive with an objective of character assassination of individuals,” the statement read.

Reading the papers in Sri Lanka of late, it becomes evident of how active SLC has become responding to various allegations published in the papers and news sites. Going by the manner SLC has been recently utilising the right of reply, it appears as though even this government run institution has taken the route of blaming everything, including the behaviour of Sri Lankan players, on the media.

It is a shameful and sad turn of events for an institution that carries no elections to appoint its heads, nor does it have any transparency. To now have a media manager, who was once a journalist himself, taking the route of attacking and blaming the media, adds another dimension to this sorry saga of an already corrupt and financially devastated institution.

When allegations against Dilshan’s conduct in Zimbabwe first surfaced in the recent weeks, it was old news for many in Sri Lanka. The word had already leaked about what may have happened, and those in the inner circles knew that a cover up was on.

Oh, how soon we have forgotten about Dilshan’s conduct in a night club in India in December 2009?

The allegations then were printed by the Calcutta Telegraph with details and witnesses. SLC did not make any statements, nor did it blame the Indian media for Dilshan’s antics then.

Here is the full article. Below an excerpt,

I heard voices behind me even as I pressed the elevator knob to take me to the ground floor. It was Dilshan, followed by a couple of guests he seemed to have befriended. I got out of the elevator and ran towards the street, hoping to find a taxi. There was one standing there but the driver refused to go. I turned around and saw Dilshan running across the street with vehicles dangerously zipping past him. I froze. What if a car were to run him over?

The next thing I knew was Dilshan’s hand on my collar. He didn’t assault me but his demeanour — and that of his non-celebrity friends — made me look like a criminal. “Take his phone number. Check his identity card,” the cricketer ordered, snatching my camera.

The others followed his instructions. I feared for my camera as Dilshan fiddled with the flash. He then passed it to one of his friends, who apparently knew how to erase pictures from a memory card. Satisfied that all evidence had been wiped out, the group left. My only source of support when I was being surrounded by them were the Shisha staff, who had apparently come down to ensure that I wasn’t assaulted. Some police officers were standing there but they preferred to be mere spectators.

SLC has done everything in its power to cover up for Tillakaratne Dilshan thereby giving him the notion that he can get away with anything. As captain, leading a young side to Zimbabwe, Dilshan had little respect for a curfew imposed on the players which all others had to abide by. Is this the type of character we need leading Sri Lanka some day? It is why some say that Sangakkara did not want Dilshan taking over as vice captain.

Are you the type that blames the media for reporting allegations?

Ask yourself if it makes any sense when you claim that the media makes money by publishing such allegations. Reputation, after all, costs more than a few extra copies of a paper sold by publishing false allegations. When a media organisation looses its reputation of being honest and fair, making money off false allegations becomes a pretty stupid option.

We know today that Zimbabwe Cricket has confirmed that an incident took place. However, Sri Lanka Cricket has pointed the blame at others, and has refused to take any action, or investigate, or reprimand Dilshan.

I wonder how far down the wrong path SLC will take our cricket by covering up the wrongdoings of players, then blaming the media for it, and dismissing allegations as baseless.

By letting Dilshan off the hook, yet again, they are our encouraging unacceptable behaviour. Remember, he was only given a fine for asking Randiv to bowl a no-ball to Sehwag while Randiv was banned for a match. Now, rumours have it that SLC bailed him out in Zimbabwe, and are hoping that the whole incident goes away.

Upcoming World Cup, or no World Cup, this is unacceptable. As a citizen of this great nation, I will not stand for it, nor should you.

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