Is this another faux pas?
Massacre of the innocents
By Bernie Wijesekera
The Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association has insisted that all schools be eligible to play in next year's one-day league tournament. At the same time the schools must play ten matches at the least. In addition, in a bid to promote the lesser-known schools the administrators have made it mandatory that two emerging schools be included in the yearly calendar among the big 'uns.

The SLSCA have also gone one step further by making it compulsory that two matches should be played on turf (if the host team possesses them). The aim is that this move may help the emerging team to get acclimatised to playing on turf. However one may ask what sort of experience would they get by playing just two matches on turf. If they are to get the needed experience the district schools must be afforded green pitches to practise regularly, but not playing a solitary school match on turf.

A good example is the last weekend match between St. Joseph's and Taxila MMV at Darley Road. Taxila winning the toss, invited Joes to bat first. They went on a spree and made 270 for one declared. It was a massacre of the innocents. If they continued the Joes could have created some more new records in school cricket. Taxila in their turn were bowled out for 63 and 90 and lost by an innings and it was all over before lunch on the second day.

The Taxila batsmen were all at sea on turf. What sort of experience did they get? Apparently it may have been the first time they have played on turf. Not only at Horana even other schools in the districts barring Kandy and Galle do not have any sort of green pitches to train on. Only the affluent schools in the Colombo district are blessed with turf pitches. Here again some of them are not maintained due to lack of funds.

It also causes much heart-burn and embarrassment to the host school when they have to play the first XI team and the game is over under four sessions. Even their cricket too stands to suffer due to this ad hoc decisions taken by the SLSCA. In the past every school had a player with national potential, who could represent the country whilst at school. Imagine the 1979 World Cup. The Sri Lanka team had three schoolboys - Ajitha Pasqual, Ranjan Madugalle and Roger Wijesuriya along with Rohan Jayasekera, just out of school. Then there was Duleep Mendis from St. Sebastian's and S. Thomas', Ajith de Silva, Sarath Wimalaratne and Yatagama Ameradasa. Later in the day came Arjuna Ranatunga, Aravinda de Silva, Roshan Mahanama and the late Anura Ranasinghe etc. Such were the cricketers who just walked into the national squad whilst still at school. Today there is quantity but no quality. This weekend St. Joseph's are playing Harischandra College, Negombo at Darley Road.

Had the SLSCA hierarchy had any sort of planning then it should have arranged to play these matches within the district instead of making them come all the way to Colombo at great expense and also play a game on turf to gain experience. The SLCA should do well to collaborate with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Sports with the support of Sri Lanka Cricket and strive to get the facilities within the district so that the rural youth could train regularly.


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