Nurturing the first-class cricketer

First Class Cricketers of Sri Lanka are mostly a forgotten lot and they are our topic of discussion today.

As we know Sri Lanka has 20 first class clubs and five Provinces. This would roughly mean considering a squad of fifteen per club, a total of three hundred players in the first class circuit. Have you and I considered the sacrifice and commitment they make for the greater good of the game and to sustain it? Have we ever considered the possibility of most of our cricketers giving up playing First Class cricket and the impact it could have on the national team?

How would the authorities even conduct tournaments for teams to participate if there are no players to represent them? So whilst a group of people with their talents have moved up the ladder, the ones with less talent but with a huge commitment and love for the game have been instrumental in supporting this happen. And they the bunch we call First Class Cricketers!

Dwelling further on the subject the next question that comes to my mind is the type or the quantum of the return these players get for what they do? It is understandable that the SLC and the Clubs are doing their best to compensate the players, though there is a lot of room for improvement. A step further and a comparison in the payments to the respective First Class players in the world makes it look so one sided.
There are many Sri Lankan first-class cricketers who seek work as professionals in the English club circuit.

It is a known fact that even the Bangladesh First Class player earns more than the Sri Lankan player! The fees paid to the Australian and the English First Class player is merely a dream that our players would never want to wake up from! So less we dwell on it is better as the reading in to it make it look just absurd! Having said all that, and having endured these challenges the biggest obstacle now faced by these players is not the low payment they receive locally, but the fact that opportunities they have to earn money in the UK by way of playing league cricket has suddenly started to diminish!

This would mean that up to 100 to 150 Sri Lanka first class cricketers would be without a proper method of employment and revenue of almost 750,000 sterling pounds in terms of remittance lost to the country. The cause for this is reliably understood as the very slow processing of Visa’s in the visa section in Chennai. It appears that with this attitude of Chennai, the players have virtually run in to a blank wall! And are helpless and not knowing where to turn. They are also facing the danger of their contracts being cancelled by the clubs who have refused to wait indefinitely! Is it fair for these cricketers who have sacrificed their careers and family life’s to be subjected to such a situation? One shouldn’t forget that Sri Lankan First Class cricketers are still not fully Professional! In fact they are actually semi Professionals with jobs in leading mercantile Establishments and also cricket providing their livelihood. In that scenario the support extended by every employer is commendable! They allow the player to attend practices three days a week, then cricket during the rest of the week and 5 months no pay leave and is also willing to take them back to work. Talk of the contributions to the game from different quarters! This is huge and helps the players to stand on their feet.

Back to the problem itself, it is a known fact that this attitude of the Visa officials in Chennai is the real problem. The question that is asked by many players is, if the clubs have officially obtained approval in the form of the license from the Boarder Agency and if the players have obtained the required 40 points as stipulated in the form, why should the process take so long? True there will be areas that need vetting. But how can you accept a delay of more than 30 days in a case that appears straight forward with all the required documents, when the stipulated time is much less?

Having listened to the players patiently the manner the new cricket chief moved to sort matters was surely a fact to be appreciated. With the Chairman’s intervention and the support of the understanding officials at the British High Commission in the form of its Media Manager Mr. Dominic Williams, it appears that there is some reprieve for the players, which is no doubt a huge relief for all involved and the players in particular.

On the point of D S De Silva and Sri Lanka Cricket, my last week’s column was on the structure of Junior Cricket and not the lack of development of it as one never doubted the advancement in that area the game has seen in the recent past. It is also a known fact that school cricket has begun to flourish since Mr. D.S. De Silva assumed the role of heading that division at the SLC and assisting as much as 18 schools in the Jaffna peninsula in the form of cricket gear along with a number of the other schools in the country is a project which should be much appreciated. The supporting of the Jaffna Schools apparently ravaged by the recent separatist war is unprecedented, which is a real feather in the cap of D S De Silva! My reason to appreciate the Chairman is other than facts highlighted are the way he has stepped in to help the local First Class Cricketer. At the time of this desperate hour of need his help as the Chairman is to be commended. His action here will not just speak for himself but for the entire Sri Lanka Cricket, as after all where can a Sri Lanka Cricket be with out its cricketers! So its time we all realized it and supported them.

= Roshan Abeysinghe is a leading cricket promoter and an international cricket commentator
Top to the page  |  E-mail  |  views[1]
  Other Sports Articles
- Lankans can be confident
- Hambantota unlikely to host a match
- Picking up the pieces
- Nurturing the first-class cricketer
- Three allrounders in Squad
- Arjun kicks Pathana to submission
- St. Joseph’s shock Trinity
- Raut help Royals rout Charges
- Getting ready to rise for the Ashes
- Australia offered doosra coaching
- Dulanjana and Dilan steer Navy
- Skipper Chandimal steers Lankan teens
Greek Olympic Committee confirm positive test


Reproduction of articles permitted when used without any alterations to contents and a link to the source page.
© Copyright 2008 | Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka. All Rights Reserved.| Site best viewed in IE ver 6.0 @ 1024 x 768 resolution