It is heartening to note that the alarm bells have begun to toll in the cricketing world and the beleaguered hierarchy is at least making an honest effort to effect changes and get the batters keep playing the game that they are used to. We are aware that this politically riddled atmosphere keeps breeding square [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Changes are welcome, but, how earnest are we?


It is heartening to note that the alarm bells have begun to toll in the cricketing world and the beleaguered hierarchy is at least making an honest effort to effect changes and get the batters keep playing the game that they are used to.

We are aware that this politically riddled atmosphere keeps breeding square pegs and round holes and not flat bats and round balls.
The hierarchy wants to change the cricket constitution to suit today’s needs and serve the game effectively.

Ben Cutting (left).…An Australian cricketer who is in the pipeline in their drive towards the 2015 World Cup. George Bailey – the other cricketer in the picture had not represented the country when he was chosen to lead Australia in the ‘short’ game.

One clause that is due for a change is the term of office of an elected administration. The present term is for one year. Ironically, now what happens is that the administration takes the first six months to settle in and work and the next six months to retain their seats. This means hardly a thing happens for the game during a year in office. Yet, I have an argument. During the last seven years or so – prior to the ELECTION of the present team, a little more than 365 days ago – the Lankan cricket was run by interim committees. They were not responsible for the affiliate members or the cricketers because they were direct political appointees who were there to just look after the interests of the game. They carried out the whims of their political masters who perched them in their seats.

Then under pressure from the global custodian of the game, the ICC, the political fist had to call for elections and have an elected body running the game in Sri Lanka. At that point what did the crafty political regime do? It saw to that the same regime that was playing its tune was back in the seats which it wanted. The result was we had the same ‘Gal Arrack’ poured into fancy shaped new bottles – just to hoodwink the ICC.

If we are to speak about being honest in one’s deeds, we all know why the three grounds were built for the 2011 World Cup. I do agree that now Sri Lanka has three international standard grounds which could host any type of tournament. The 2012 T-20 World Cup was ample testimony to that. Yet at the end of the day especially, the Hambantota Stadium, is more political than not. Still the expenses that were incurred building that Coliseum is SLC’s hunchback.

Sadly what was the ultimate result? We now have grounds to play, but no matches. Now we have pleased our political masters and they have left us with a cricket management which is run with an empty coffer. To prove the fact the latest what we have heard is that the short tour of New Zealand to Sri Lanka to play three ODIs and a T-20 in November this year was in the balance because Sri Lanka could not afford it. Sanity has prevailed and now it’s on. At least now why can’t the Government bail the game out? It is only the Government that can do it. No administration of any nature can run a sport at international level with empty coffers.

Then the next is that even if the Lankan cricket constitution is redone and the same system of politically riddled elections which is manoeuvreed by crooked creatures is going to rule the roost, cricket would continue run at full speed on the reverse gear.

We pen the above down with good reasons. I got this anecdote from the horse’s mouth. Sidath Wettimuny once mentioned that when he was serving in the SLC cricket committee he made a certain move. Knowing that there was a gruelling Australian tour at hand in 2012/13, he wanted to send a few young cricketers across to Australia. He wanted them to play the game there so that they could adapt themselves to the conditions and know what they could expect playing in those conditions and to learn how to adapt to them. He had got hold of earnest Lankans from the Lankan Cricket Foundation, Victoria and had the matters settled. For this effort, Sri Lanka Cricket would bear no cost. But, ironically the term of that interim committee ended. Sidath Wettimuny was out of cricket, and the subject was closed at that point.

No body at the Maitland Place office had the foresight to follow up a job that someone had just completed. They only had to pick the cricketers and send them over. The result was the Lankan team in 2013, suffered one its most humiliating Test defeats at the hands of Australia at the MCG, in the Boxing Day match.

In the last day of 2012, even the incumbent selection committee’s term in office was over and we have learned that eleven names have been forwarded while several other prominent persons have opted out of the list. On any day, Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage would pick five names out and christen them as the next national cricket selectors.

While I have been in conversation with some, the previous members of the selection committees what I had gathered is that they are quite oblivious about the coming generation of cricketers. Where do they perform? Are they in the system? What are their strong points? What are their technical lackings?

We do understand, once giving up the game, they have been occupied otherwise trying to make ends meet. But, once they come into the system in their new role as cricket selectors, would they make a point to watch all the Premier League matches and the entire Provincial match list? For instance if they are chasing one name from a club how many matches it would take him to have a real good look at the lad. We at this end honestly do not think a selector would make that sort of a self-sacrifice for another young lad’s cricket future. Today’s culture is different.

In the days gone by, the selectors watched the hopefuls at trials. There would be a few trial matches and all selectors would gather there and have a close look. At that point, every young cricketer would want to perform, the plain reason being, they were under scrutiny. Above all the selectors got an idea of what they were about to select.

In today’s context, how many national cricketers do take part in the national tournaments? The reason being, they let their international exploits talk for themselves while knowing the younger generation is not being closely watched by the selectors.
Something that we learned during this ODI series in Australia is that the Australian system is working earnestly towards the 2015 Cricket World Cup which they would host. While listening to the experts talk we learned that they are looking at least at 50 potential players who would have played over 50 internationals by then. They have a goal and an objective. They have placed a system in front of them to drive towards it.

Sri Lanka is still trying to put things in its perspective. If the Lankans are earnest about those moves is another story.
We cannot wait for tomorrow, because tomorrow never comes.

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