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Sri Lanka’s gross disregard for public opinion


Sri Lankan cricketer Lasith Malinga (2L) and captain Upul Tharanga (L) play football during a practice session at R. Premadasa Stadium in Colombo on September 2, 2017. The final one day international (ODI) cricket match between Sri Lanka and India takes place in Colombo on September 3.ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP


by Rex Clementine


They say that Nero was fiddling when Rome was burning. Some 2000 years later, Lasith Malinga was found partying when cricket was in total shambles. As pictures of the party thrown by Lasith Malinga to fellow cricketers at his posh Dickman’s Road residence on Friday went viral, local fans began to wonder whether cricketers actually cared about the current status of the national cricket team. We are not here to point mistakes at anyone who is organising a party, but the fact that the players had the guts to go public about it has definitely left a bad taste in many mouths. The attitude was shocking as it happened less than 24 hours after the team’s place in the 2019 World Cup fell in jeopardy.


The perception among the general public is that the players simply don’t care about the rot cricket is in at the moment. Given last week’s angry crowd reaction at Pallekele, Sri Lanka Cricket should have sent a stern warning to the players to watch their status in public domain.


Yesterday, the national cricket team turned up for training at RPS at 1 p.m. The first thing they did was to play football, a game that lasted for half-hour. We wonder how playing football at every training session is going to get the team out of its current status. The time dedicated to fine tune fielding skills was much shorter than the time dedicated to playing football and certainly not all players took part in fielding drills. Those running Sri Lankan cricket simply have no respect whatsoever for public opinion.


It is hard to think of another era where cricket in the country was at a lower ebb. The sport hit new lows following defeats to Zimbabwe and Bangladesh this year and on top of that there was a double whitewash in South Africa while another double clean-sweep is on the cards if the team loses the fifth ODI against India today at RPS. What is alarming is not just the defeats, but the margins as Sri Lanka have failed to compete against the Indians even once. This totally has been a one-sided contest. Mind you this is India’s second-string bowling attack without Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.


A series of poor judgment both on the field and off it has dragged Sri Lankan cricket to the current predicament. Had the current administration implemented the now defunct Inter-Provincial First-Class tournament well in advance, the current crisis could have been averted. Instead, the guardians of the sport were busy informing us that the country had won a World Cup with the existing club structure and weren’t keen to deviate.


The implementation of the Provincial First Class tournament invariably would have upset the member clubs. Following repeated failures, Sri Lanka Cricket had to eventually conduct the Inter-Provincial one-day tournament prior to the Champions Trophy and now the board seems to be keen to conduct the First Class competition as well later this year. However, addressing the issues facing domestic cricket should have been one of the priorities of the administration.


The investigation into the alleged match fixing in the Premier League Tier B match between Kalutara PCC and Panadura SC also has carried on at snail’s pace nine months after the sad episode. The involvement of some powerful members of the Executive Committee in the episode was one reason why the report is not coming out, Sunday Island learns. There was little hope that the culprits will be strongly dealt with when SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala guaranteed the media that no money was exchanged in the match under investigation. The SLC chief wouldn’t have earned the wrath of the public had he acted swiftly when the matter became public.


Another area that SLC faulted was how they dealt with Head Coach Graham Ford. It is no secret that SLC left no stone unturned in bringing Ford back to the fold in 2016, but the moment the team lost to Bangladesh, the board was looking for a scapegoat and Ford’s role was undermined which prompted him to leave. Given SLC’s history of bad management of professionals, it was yet another black mark on the board, which is now struggling to bring down a decent coach to take the team through to the 2019 World Cup.


However much they deny, the selection process is manipulated by prominent members of the Executive Committee. Injury is not the only reason why 50 odd players have represented the country in the last two years. Some of the defeats in the last few months could have been avoided had Sri Lanka struck to the best 15.


Cricket is in total Shambles. Test matches end inside four days or three days, the man appointed as captain cannot finish his overs on time, his replacement has brain fade, the selectors have resigned and the national team’s chances in making to the World Cup remains in danger. Yet, there seems to be scant respect for public opinion.

Posted on 2017-09-03 16:14:41
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“That was pathetic. No excuse at all. The whole team is responsible. Whoever the captain is, we have to back him and try and support him. The captain has to do so many other stuff. All the 11 guys must back him and support him.” “We have addressed the issue of finishing off the overs on time in the past as well, but it cropped up again. It’s so unfortunate to see Upul going out as he is a crucial player in our set up. He batted well against South Africa and it’s so unfortunate. This can’t happen again,” - Angelo Mathews


Cricket is a game of fine margins and Mathews is set to be a modern great. Hang in their Angie, this team can achieve something on this tour. Thirimane and the youngsters form was a real positive. Prasad was missed. Chameera should be persisted with. If Bairstow was our early outcome could have been very different.


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