You can retain the best architect and use the best mortar and brick; also have the choicest, gilded doors and windows but, at the end of all that effort, you end-up building a house. However, if you are desirous of making a ‘home’ out of that ‘house’, it requires various ingredients and such ingredients are [...]


Fixing what? For whom? Who is responsible?


You can retain the best architect and use the best mortar and brick; also have the choicest, gilded doors and windows but, at the end of all that effort, you end-up building a house. However, if you are desirous of making a ‘home’ out of that ‘house’, it requires various ingredients and such ingredients are inexpensive and available, if only you are willing to seek. But, at the same time, it cannot be measured with gold and silver or rupees and cents. A home is generally based on values and ethics.

In life, there are so many things that run on those two rails – values and ethics. The moment you compromise on either, the entire wagon crash-lands, and it becomes a task for all the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men to put them together again.

Definitely, cricket is a sporting home that we Lankans have built for ourselves and, over the past hundred plus years or more, those who donned pads, came up with various efforts to make a success of it. Yet, the streets paved in gold that today’s players savour, did not come to us in a hurry.

In all forms of decency, home advantage is unacceptable and, in cricket, it’s terrible. But that is one of the strongest wheels that the game of high profile cricket is based upon. What they generally mean is that, from continent to continent and country to country, the conditions that cricket pitches are set up vary, mainly because of the climatic conditions. Generally, in England, the ball tends to swing, in Australia the wickets are bouncy and fast, while in Sri Lanka, the wickets are low and slow. In that manner, in every cricket-playing nation, the pitch conditions differ, according to the prevailing climatic conditions. So, to further enhance the victory chances of a home team, curators use various gimmicks such as letting the grass grow and leave out stubble, while preparing a fast wicket or, shaving the pitch to the bone to play shy while rolling the wicket, because a breaking wicket helps the Muralis and the Heraths. Yet, all the same, it happens, so that, when one prepares a turning wicket, only to see a guy like Nathan Lyon gobble up the Lankan batting order.

That is the white side of the sheet. This part of the story is accepted by the governing body of cricket, in spite of there being more than an element of doctoring involved.

But, let us turn the spotlight on Al Jazeera’s pitch doctoring claims.

The two matches that are in question, ran towards its fate, without a question by the local cricket authority or the ICC – both games were played at the Galle CC. It means, the game that Australia lost, the pitch crumbled and the Lankans had a field day, while the game against India, the wicket was rolled and made batting-friendly in the initial stages. In that, India scored 600 plus and the Lankans ran into one of their heaviest defeats. In both cases, the wickets were prescribed according to the home team’s requirements.

Then, how did anyone claim that the game was doctored or corners cut, unless someone, the curator in question, cut cloth both ways. Then it is a serious crime. If someone was cutting both ways, there should have been others in the know.

First, the curator prepared the wicket as prescribed by the team authorities and then, sold that information, as if it was an original idea, to a gullible match-fixer, and generally, the fixers are not gullible. It is difficult to believe that a high profile bookie would mug enough to purchase secondhand information. However, the evidence presented on the idiot-box proves that there was a plan to sell secondhand information, while someone was thinking he was on to a piece of cricket history, through a breathtaking scoop. Even in the Al Jazeera story, there is something more than the eye could see.

The Al Jazeera scoop looks a bit bullish but, if you dig deeper, you see there really are dark patches blotched up all over the sheet and that, directly comes with the derailing of the two fundamentals – values and ethics.

The Galle Stadium was a good pupil of former Galle Stadium curator Jayananda Warnaweera, who also had to go underground because the ICC was interested in interviewing him over some allegations related to incidents which occurred in 2007 or thereabouts. He gradually slipped under the carpet, when he was a member of the 2015 cricket interim committee.

There was a time when southpaw Anuruddha Polonnowita was the king curator in the land of Thambapanni. Yet, long before he drew curtains on his illustrious career, he trained a generation of next-in-lines. Polonnowita explained: “Long before I decided to call it a day, I decided to train my next-in-lines, so that, there would not be a drop in standards. I had a friend who was a big-shot in the Dept of Agriculture. One-day, I approached him and made an offer. I said “Give me seven of your best graduates and I would train them as curators at Sri Lanka’s International venues.” Promptly they acceded to my request and the next generation of curators in Sri Lanka was born.

Yet, come 2015, it was payback time for those who supported the election of Thilanga Sumathipala. First, there are some unanswered questions. Now, in what capacity are those seven graduates who were trained, serving right now? But, one thing for sure, they are not given any responsible assignment. The SLC official handling all international wickets — Godfrey Dabarera — is not a professional in the calibre of Polonnowita or any of his seven professionally trained pupils who are still in service. How did this compromise take place and why did it take place? With such moves they only lose control of the situation.

Vedio grabs of the meeting recorded secretly by Al-Jazeera

This is where things began to run on the reverse. When such people finally exposed by the Al Jazeera team were serving as curators without professional qualifications, other than the basic training, you have to ask questions about what they produce at the end of the day.

This is where the cookie crumbled. What went wrong with the Thilanga administration was exactly that. The small fry lost their fear of cheating, because they knew someone else also has compromised their credentials at one point of time. That is why the players who were finally sidelined, were talking to strangers, while knowing this may be a trap, if they were really guilty of committing any crime, if not, they were all in a game with one intention. At the same time, it was said that, though former SLC chief Sumathipala made a statement to the effect that they intended handing over the case with regard to the Al Jazeera accusations to the CID, no such moves have been made yet, according to Police high-ups.

Now, with the postponement of the SLC Annual General Meeting and the appointment of a Competent Authority, things might be different but, till Sri Lanka gets back on to the right track of values and ethics, the degeneration of the process cannot be stopped.

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