players and fiction writers
While our diplomatic sleuths were doubtless trying to unravel the
mystery of Kofi Annan's unprecedented message of condolence that
made Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar indignant, few seem to
have paid much attention to other peculiar happenings.
they do not have the same implications for international relations
as the UN's faux pas. Have our sports writers lost their investigative
skills or do they avoid crossing swords with sports bodies that
are their bread and butter? Followers of cricket have been wondering
what really happened that night when Australian Shane Warne and
Muttiah Muralidaran were at a fund-raising dinner for tsunami victims.
curious that not one of our current national cricketers was there
that night if we believe sections of the media-and that, I assure
you, is not easy as you will discover shortly. So there they were,
the world's leading spin twins and not a single batsman to bowl
is if you don't count Arjuna Ranatunga who is now playing politics
instead of cricket. Or Aravinda de Silva, who apparently was also
there, but not padded up, naturally. So what happened to our present
crop of players? Where were they when the soup was served?
they feared being in the soup if they had coughed up 10,000 rupees
each to be among the other glitterati. A player or two failing to
attend is understandable. When a whole team absents itself could
anybody be faulted for suspecting that more than flat tyres or sudden
exigencies made them keep away en masse?
anybody be blamed for thinking it was a neatly-choreographed act?
There I was waiting for answers and debating whether to pen a word
or two. After all I have developed such great respect for Sri Lanka
Cricket and its doughty representatives following my recent encounters.
lo and behold a report from a Sri Lankan newspaper lands in my email
box or whatever those IT buffins call it."Thilanga has swipe
at Warne's charity dinner," the headline read. All this time
I thought this Sumathipala chap had bowed out of this cricket business.
But there he was talking to the media as chairman of Cricket-Aid.
that is, cricket and Sri Lanka Cricket do need some aid, particularly
with regard to holding fair and transparent inquiries, not to mention
some accountability in its activities. Judging by some of the comments
by Sumathipala and others they entertained doubts about the organisers
of this dinner. One host apparently was the National Council for
would have expected Sri Lanka Cricket to support anything to do
with mental health."If this was a case of supporting a cause,
they should have had the protocol in inviting the SLC President,
but that did not happen. And if I was invited I would have bought
a ticket and attended it," SLC President Mohan de Silva was
quoted as saying.
linguistic aberrations apart, does anybody really know what the
protocol is? Since it is a charity dinner, should people be invited
and if invited are they expected to buy tickets?
Anyway, if Mohan de Silva's interest in such drawing room niceties
had also been extended to an interest in judicial rectitude in the
holding of disciplinary inquiries he might be forgiven his pique
at this perceived slight.
one month now I have waited for a response from our cricket authorities
on my comments over its fatuous conduct of an inquiry. Particularly
so because it has led to serious misreporting in some media, showing
a crass lack of journalistic professionalism in those who should
January 20, "Cricinfo", an on-line cricket information
service run by the Wisden Group, said among other things, "A
Sri Lankan journalist resident in the UK broke the story in a Sunday
newspaper soon after the team's knockout from the tournament, alleging
that the pair were seen drunk in the team hotel…"
was a reference to the ICC Championship Trophy played here last
September and the two players are Avishka Gunawardena and Kaushal
remark was totally false as my column in The Sunday Times never
named the pair nor accused them of being "seen drunk."
contacted the Editor of Cricinfo, Steven Lynch, who first said that
it could be a reference to another journalist. After I said that
I was the only one who wrote about it and I never mentioned what
the report purports, he wrote back saying: "On investigating
the situation it seems that the article in question was written
by our correspondent in Sri Lanka, reporting the news, but adding
the names of the players, whose names he managed to obtain from
the Sri Lankan Board."
question is not whether he obtained the names from the Board but
whether I had said what he claims I had.
Any cub reporter would have first checked my original column to
see whether such accusations had been made. Obviously this reporter
had not. This is the trouble when every Tom, Dick and Charlie pretends
to journalistic competence.
my day our editors would have verbally lynched us for such obvious
incompetence. But not Steven Lynch who later writes that it was
"a slightly clumsy piece of editing of one sentence at our
end" that might have given the impression created.
It is not the editing that is clumsy but the excuse. The fault is
obviously with the reporting not the editing. The fault, dear Brutus,
is not in the stars but in ourselves.
now tried to move the stumps, as it were, what does Cricinfo do.
It deletes the offending sentence from its January 20 report several
days after it had first been published.
Lynch admits this change: "I apologise for that, but as you
know that reference was changed as soon as you pointed it out. I
have made a further change to the article now to clarify the position
apart, this is sleight-of-hand because it gives anyone who delves
into Cricinfo archives the impression that it had not been guilty
of irresponsible reporting.
This unsavoury episode with Sri Lanka Cricket was compounded by
a tabloid here called NEWSLANKA that thoughtlessly reproduced the
trouble with NEWSLANKA is that it lifts news stories from Sri Lankan
newspapers and websites and reproduces them without undertaking
the elementary journalistic task and duty of verifying the veracity
of what it culls from others.
most of what it publishes comes from other sources with an occasional
original piece, often badly written, and has little or no professional
journalistic input each week, it finds itself in the position of
having to apologise as it did when it reproduced that news report.
even then it tried to shift the blame on to Cricinfo, as though
reproducing what is tantamount to falsehoods exonerates one of culpability.
In days gone by, public opprobrium for bad journalism and even worse
newspapers, was described in the colourful Sinhala phrase "only
good for wrapping fish." That was when fish was relatively
what is written and printed today the public would think such a
description only dignifies irresponsible journalists and rags. It
is scant wonder that in the UK, journalists are held in low public
esteem - along with estate agents and politicians. And they are
the least popular.