Sports - Sunday Musings

Cricket breaking petty barriers

Provincial-club clash ends in win-win situation

Wish all the great wars on this earth could have been settled so amicably.
Last week began with the Clubs at the Red Corner and the SLC’ Cricket Committee in the Blue Corner fuming and grunting waiting to punch in their point of view on the fate and future of local cricket and both were adamant that it should work their way.

Michael Tissera
Michael De Zoysa

Sidath Wettimuny

When it came into the trade in punches in the first round on Wednesday the exchange was furious – the Clubs’ cause championed by K. Mathivanan, Michael de Zoysa, Roshan Abeysinghe, Ravin Wickramaratne and others were countering the punches flung in by Sri Lanka Cricket’s Cricket Committee members Sidath Wettimuny and Michael Tissera. However angry they were, there was one redeeming factor that that propelled both sides into level headedness – it was their love for the game of cricket and its future well being.

Initially Sidath and his team took the stage by storm by requesting a share of the local cricket summer from January to April to stage the provincial tournament. They said if their request could not be heeded, the club cricket tournament and the Provincial cricket tournament should be played concurrently. The Club Cricket administrators were up in arms. They argued that if the provincial tournament and the club tournament were played concurrently there would be a huge exodus of quality players from the club cricket tournament to make the numbers in the provincial cricket tournament and the club tournament would look like the old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard.

The club administrators’ argument had its valid points.
They argued that club cricket must be played prior to the provincial tournament for the plain and simple reason that it is from the club cricket tournament that the national selectors would be screening the prospective provincial cricketers. So, the club tournament initially has to be played and completed and then the provincial tournament could begin in all its pomp and pageantry with the cream of the club cricketers.

Another salient point brought forward by the Clubs was that in England the county system has space for 120 days of cricket for the year during the summer. In Australia it was 70-80 days of cricket for the year and in this manner Sri Lanka would be playing around 60-70 days of cricket, which seemed to be quite sufficient.

They also argued that it was the club cricket tournament that nurtured the game for the past one hundred years and grew with it so that the game stood the test of time when it came for Sri Lanka to elevate to the international level.

Then they argued that it was the very structure that helped produce the players that brought home the cricket’s biggest achievement -- the World Cup in just fourteen years up on the pedestal. The clubs contended that like the other Test playing nations which have their own structures, it is the club cricket structure that has taken root in the country. It is because it is the club system that is most suited to this tiny island nation which has a population of 20 million people caged in an area of twenty-five thousand square miles.

The game at the higher level of cricket – at club level -- is mainly confined to the city of Colombo and a bit down south – and this small region is the talent base of cricket in the country.
However, the question is -- has the club cricket system of late sustained itself to cater to the real international talent call or is it the real feeder point to the national grid? This is the question to which the SLC Cricket Committee seems to have found the answer.

One of the main conclusions that the Cricket Committee arrived at after they delved deeper into the cricket matter was that – there is a huge vacuum in Sri Lanka when one compares the quality of cricket at international level and the existing club level. The vacuum is so void that the gap between the two levels of the game keeps moving apart at a rapid pace.

For this the SLC CC had its paper drawn up. The club cricket system, according to the SLC-CC proposals, could maintain itself in its present form. They are going to get bigger and better framed with the proposed cluster system that they like to see mooted. (*See attached proposal.)
The first round bell rang with the two parties agreeing to meet each other at the same ring the next day for the second round.

The next day this looked much calmer and it seemed that sanity had prevailed. The vociferous club front were reasonable. This time the clubs were represented by K. Mathivanan, Michael de Zoysa, Roshan Abeysinghe and Ravin Wickramaratne.

The two sides decided to share the Lankan cricketing summer. Now the clubs have taken a few steps back from their original days and would begin their season from November 5 and run it till February 3, 2012 and the provincial tournament would begin on February 3rd and run till the first week of April.
A huge step towards the future of the game in Sri Lanka was completed in this manner. It happened so because both parties concerned had the interests of the game at heart and only sought the survival and the sustenance of it.

From this point onwards it is up to the officialdom who grace those seats to nurture and build upon this move and sustain it for the future cricketing generations of
Sri Lanka.

Proposed Cluster System
The folllowing the proposed Cluster system and it props and cons forwarded by the SLC Cricket Committee.

Provincial & Club Management Committee (PCMC)

This proposal is aimed at both facing the challenges ahead in International and Domestic Cricket and revitalizing Sri Lanka Cricket with a more vibrant system, that would be more inclusive and participatory. It is important to create the right environment to support and identify the rural sector cricketers, which currently produces over 80% of the National Team. A healthy system of decentralization will bring in many more resources and resourceful people into supporting SLC to take the game forward. The PCMC also should create an environment of healthy competition between Clusters and promote entrepreneurship and innovative thinking to take the game/Cluster to a greater level of performance.

  • Clusters to have Management committee which comprise of the Nominated members from the cluster Clubs.
  • Chairmen to be appointed from the oldest club in the cluster for the first Two years and subsequently on a rotational basis. (Method to be re-evaluated once a year).
  • Committee to meet at least once a month at SLC or a cluster club and alternate month at a provincial center.
  • Provincial Manager and provincial representative to be part of the committee.
  • Provincial coaches and district coaches to report the committee on the ongoing programmes which would be monitored and managed by the provincial Manger.
  • Curators Area to be restructured and the total responsibility given to the respective curators who would be located at the International stadiums.
  • Curators allocated to clusters will be totally responsible for assisting clubs to prepare good wickets for domestic Cricket.
  • Appointment of a selection committee approved by the respective cluster for provincial team selection to be headed by a National Selector. The selection committee should comprise of former first class player who have played five years of first class cricket or National Cricketers.
  • In addition the provincial selectors should be responsible for talent scouting of the respective provinces.
  • SLC will consider the selectors who would represent the cluster for the future National selection committee.
  • Conflict of the selections at the clusters to be refereed to the Chairman of the National Selection committee.
  • All SLC policy to be driven by the Head Of Cricket Operations and Head Of Coaching. They will both meet with the PMC on quarter basis.
  • PMC to look for provincial center sponsors and a priority that every provincial center to be fully equipped with all the facilities such as indoor nets, Pool facility, and GYM.
  • Management of all international match logistics will be done by the cluster in consultation with SLC tour organizing committee.
  • Sponsor’s to be found Provincial-wise for team sponsorships & event sponsors.
    Financial Benefits to the club cluster

Utilization of the venue allocated to the cluster at a discounted price for the clubs within cluster.
325% to the players participating in the Champions League and 50% of the champions league guarantee money will be allocated to the winning clusters of the T20, ODI and Four day provincial tournament. First Year the total amount will be equally divided amongst the 20 premier clubs.
10% of SLC TV rights will be distributed equally among the 5 clusters, annually.

Tickets revenue of every international game played at the International venues will be allocated to the respective cluster.

Advertising revenue from the venue.
Revenue generated of hiring out the venues to be allocated for development and maintenance of the cluster

Cricketing Area
The top ranked 15 Under 19 players to be given a scholarship by the provincial team for a period of three years on the condition that they will be bound to that province.

The clubs within the cluster to support each other of enhancing the standard of the cluster.
The players selected would be compel to play for the province for a period of two years and maximum of two central contracted players could move at any given year within one month window specified.

A provincial support membership to be provided for children between 12 and 21 who plays cricket to be given to school children of the province with the benefit of a free ticket to witness matches played in the province. This would be done with the intention of building affiliation to the province and the club cluster. The PMC to build on this concept to promote cluster affiliation.

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