I am glad to note that my April 30 ‘Sunday Musings’ column headlined “Are we working towards our game plan” has been taken serious note of by Sri Lanka Cricket Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ashley de Silva. A former Test Cap, de Silva has been involved with the game for quite some time, and holding [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Cricket game plan: CEO has a role to play


I am glad to note that my April 30 ‘Sunday Musings’ column headlined “Are we working towards our game plan” has been taken serious note of by Sri Lanka Cricket Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ashley de Silva. A former Test Cap, de Silva has been involved with the game for quite some time, and holding the position of CEO since 2013.

He was brought into the system as Cricket Operations Manager during Arjuna Ranatunga’s Interim Committee in 2008 and rose to the position of CEO in 2013.

So, I am glad that the CEO of the game’s governing body has responded to this column. But I also feel I need to further explain some of the issues he has raised with regard to what we said in our column.

I am told that, according to the SLC Constitution, the CEO is responsible for every action that takes place within the organisation, whether it be an interim committee or an elected body.

As a senior journalist, I am aware that, it is our responsibility to be independent and unbiased. At the same time, it is also our responsibility to stay alert and keep a watch on matters pertaining to our field and keep our readers and the relevant authorities informed, so that, there would be a constructive dialogue aimed at corrective action. So there is no provision for two game plans. What should be in place is the right game plan that works for SLC.

Mr. CEO, you talk of the SLC’s elected administration which took office in January 2016 at a time when the organisation was stuck in a quagmire of debt and disarray — and to quote the ICC CEO, the SLC was “on the verge of suspension”.

At the time of taking office after a string of interim committee administrations, the National team had been destabilised, disillusioned and fractured, with three captains, two vice captains and a stand-in coach.

Yes, the present, elected administration directed you to change that system and, by all means, we applauded the one-captain system. But, as expected, the vice captain’s position, which was supposed to be there till 2019, was changed. It was said that Angelo Mathews and Dinesh Chandimal would be captain and vice captain respectively, during the given period, but it was not to be. Chandimal was dropped on a flimsy excuse. It indicated that there was no consistency in their game plan, and that is our bone of contention. Always, there are two stories – what is being said and what is between the lines. As a seasoned administrator, you should be aware of this reality.

Then the elected administration talks of a turnaround following the financial dilemma. Yet, was that document properly audited? Then, if the SLC finances are so great, why haven’t the cricketers’ salaries been brought back to what it was?

Then you speak of the great coaching recruitment of Graham Ford – a much respected figure, we agree. But, once again when one reads between the lines, one finds there are others directing operations. It was only the other day, a past great cricketer pointed out the presence of chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya and team manager cum selector Asanka Gurusinha talking to the national cricketers, while Ford was not even in the picture, literally and figuratively.

You talk of recruiting Chaminda Vaas, Hashan Tillekeratne and Upul Chandana into the coaching system but, ironically, there are no locals in the list drawn up for the Champions Trophy, other than Physiotherapist Ajantha Wattegama and Masseur Rohan Priyadharshana. Why not give people such as Vaas, Tillekeratne and Chandana — crickets who have played the game at the highest level — an opportunity to prove their capabilities, as they are already in the system. What ‘crime’ did Champaka Ramanayake commit? Isn’t Champaka responsible for the discovery and nurturing of the battery of local fast bowlers in action at present? Like someone once asked, “What can Donald do in two months?”

According to the SLC Constitution, the CEO is responsible for every action of the organisation

Certainly, we would like to applaud the selectors for the job they did in selecting the side, right or wrong. May be Romesh Kaluwitharana and off-spinner Ranjith Madurasinghe’s terms were over. So was Eric Upashantha’s but, he stood by Jayasuriya. How come Gurusinha, who was just made a selector, was not physically available? Why was Ford missing? Hats off to Mathews and Upashantha. To be with the selectors, the captain left his IPL assignment and flew to Sri Lanka. Yes, Skype may not be the real thing.

You say Rome was not built in a day, and you do have a game plan for 2019. Yes, we admit that but, remember, it was not so long ago that the Sri Lankans had made winning a habit. In 2014, even without the best T-20 combination, we won the ICC T-20 trophy. So, we do not have any illusions about Sri Lankan talent and cricket skills. But, we are concerned about the combinations. Sometimes the wrong combinations may also bring wrong results.

Remember, in 1996, a team that was in its prime won the ICC World Cup for Sri Lanka. But, four years down the line in 1999, almost the same, but aging, combination was the rest of the World Cup Cricket gang’s bunny. Some who are within the system would know why and how. That is what I mean by reading between the lines.

Yes, we do have real concerns. The biggest is the over politicisation of the game of cricket. There is no let up, its getting worse by the day. For instance, most present and past cricketers say, to take the game of cricket to the next level, we must adopt the provincial system. But, that does not mean it should be turned into a ploy to garner votes.

Recently, there was a match-fixing charge against two clubs – Kalutara PCC and Panadura SC. But, up to now, no one knows the outcome of the probe, because the persons involved are almost VIPs within the system.

When the present elected administration took office, they said they would be building it on 5 pillars. But now, the Jayantha Dharmadasa pillar who looks into international cricket interests is almost out. Last week, when fast bowler Allan Donald was introduced to the press, Vice President Jayantha Dharmadasa was seated almost in the second row, mind you, at a head table.

Yes, it is your responsibility to turn things around as CEO of SLC. Elected bodies may come and go but, the real thing — the employees — are there to get the job done. You have proved that from 2013 to now. There are no two games plans. There is only one and, it is your responsibility, as well as it is mine, to ensure it works.

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