pickle la Lanka
Muck-ups, cover-ups and other allied ills seem
to be plaguing the hallowed halls of Sri Lanka’s cricketing
Mecca at Maitland Place. Maybe that they still do not know that
age-old clichés “There is no smoke without fire”
and about the “people living in glass houses should not pelt
stones at others’. To my mind the whole Jayasuriya-De Mel
episode was an “atepattu”.
begin with everybody likes to know how and why suddenly Asantha
de Mel was air dropped as chairman of selectors and was there a
hidden agenda behind it? After that the entire hullabaloo that took
place in the cricket hierarchy still remains a mystery. However
once a man takes over a seat that seat has to be respected. Whatever
the argument put forward anyone has to admit that former Sri Lanka
fast medium bowler Asantha de Mel was a good reader of the game
from the time he was an on field performer. His tally of 59 wickets
in just 17 matches when Sri Lanka was only an fledgling Test playing
nation bears ample testimony to his skills. At the same time he
was no mean handler of the bat in the late order.
Once De Mel took the entire Lankan cricket authority
by surprise, may be someone down the line did not like the idea
of being taken by surprise.
The first bomb against the appointment of De Mel
came when newspaper reports carried an item to the effect that the
rest of the incumbent panel of selectors aired their differences
of opinion with De Mel which was later hushed up or swept under
The next came when De Mel asked some persons who
matter in the Lankan cricketing circles for a light cricketing banter
as to how they should act to take the game forward from this point
onwards. Perhaps there may have been some exchange of views on various
issues, but for the second time mysteriously some stories hit the
headlines only to be refuted by the SLC later on.
Then down the grapevine came another hilarious
story. So it was said that when a second meeting was requested among
those who sat at the first meeting a very senior member is reported
to have come out with a statement to the effect that he would only
attend that meeting if it was held at the Galle Face Green with
loud speakers, so that the general public could hear every word
about their exchange of views.
What does all this mean? The entire hierarchy
of the cricketing community is in two camps trying to undermine
one another. This forebodes that Sri Lankan cricket is getting deepen
into the mire.
Then comes the million dollar question. Has Sanath
Jayasuriya, a cricketer of many a season now become a victim of
circumstances? There is no gainsaying his abilities or his contribution
to local cricket. At the same time it is also no secret that he
has been out of cricket since the Kandy Test against Pakistan a
couple of moons ago. However the deeper you dig into the matter
the more complex it gets! It seems the crux of the matter is not
whether Sanath Jayasuriya is fit to play in the Test matches or
not, but a faction of the cricketing hierarchy feels that their
authority is undermined if he was included into the final Xl for
the second Test. One faction feels that the players who were selected
from their panel of judges should be given preference over the selections
made by De Mel and company.
What will be the next scenario in Sri Lanka cricket?
Once the De Mel selection panel is in full force with the naming
the ODI squad which follows this Test series? The situation is bound
to get deeper into another quagmire. At this point we who are watching
this whole episode through the looking glass feel that there are
two series of tests which are taking place at the same time. One
is the players getting into the middle, testing their skills against
the skills of their counterparts who taught them the rudiments of
this lovely game at one point of time. The next is another match
to test who wields the power between these two factions appointed
by the same government that is in power using the players as pawns.
At the same time I also feel sorry for the other officials (and
some others) who are sandwiched between this tense power struggle
as they will have to pay for the sins of the others.