ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Vol. 41 - No 24

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Just thinking about the present context of local cricket my memory goes back about two decades when we watched a bloody western of the “Dollar Series” the last of which was called –THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY. To my mind leaving out the western part of it, this is the best that one can call the present day status of Lankan cricket.

First let us talk about the good. Once again a peep into local cricket three decades back when the Maharaja vs Ceylon Tobacco match was as good as a present day ODI. It had at its start which covered almost the entire composition of the then national team and the rest were good as the others who had already won their caps. However with the passage of time both companies phased out their ‘passion’ for cricket till it was the turn of the others to pick up the pieces – mind you this was in Mercantile Cricket.

Sri Lanka is unique in many ways. In cricket too they had their unique qualities. In Sri Lanka unlike in any other country it was the Club Cricket that took deep root among its populace. It came to the public view in many faces. First with the tag of Daily News Trophy (which later became the division III tournament), P. Sara Trophy, Lakspray Trophy, Singer Trophy followed by a lean period when no commercial outfit worth its salt considered the local premier league worth a sponsorship.

However on Wednesday, once again the Maharajah Organisation rekindled their love for cricket when they came up with a sizeable package of Rs 6.5 million along with the spills and thrills that a TV channel could offer to lure back the fans who had opted to stay away from the venues that came about with the advent of the lean period of sponsorship.

In all its earnestness the Premier League Tournament which is the real feeder point to cricket’s national grid needs the inspiration and the recognition that the SLC and the Maharajah Organisation are launching towards development of the local second step cricket.

Then again the bad is, the plight that the national cricketers are causing the present cricket hierarchy. It is evidently reported that the team is divided into two camps with the captain, vice-captain and the coach on one side and the rest of the permanent seniors on the other. The bickering is so bad the juniors are in a dilemma from which camp to seek solace. So much so that it is reported that at one of the local premier league matches a disenchanted regular national junior had told a prominent umpire “It is better to go back to the village and play Kaduru-ball cricket rather than trying to play (for) Sri Lanka Cricket”.

Yet again Sri Lanka is unique in many ways. Reportedly it is the only country in the world (of cricket) that has a cricket selector who never attends a single selection committee meeting. Besides this, there is another committee member who is not very vocal in his opinion. This leaves only two active members which makes their lives very easy – one rules the roost and the other jets as tour selector.

Is it the end of the road for Marvan’s Test Cricket career?

Early last week one of the wire services queried from the Chairman of the Sri Lanka Cricket Selection Committee about his views on the short-term captaincy of Sri Lanka cricket in the aftermath of the ICC Championship trophy loss and at the same time Mahela being elected as the captain of the year by the ICC. Probably the chief selector came up with the most logical answer when he said that he sees Mahela leading the country right to the end of the World Cup in the West Indies and they want to see him feel comfortable in this position by that time.

This statement let loose a hornets-nest. There were many protests and by that same evening a very senior member of the Interim Committee met the Chief Selector, had a discussion and out came a statement from the Chief Selector that the Wire service story was only his personal views and it was not to the effect of an appointment of the national captain.

Meanwhile, clearly understanding that it would only be a pipe dream to think of regaining back his captaincy which Marvan Atapattu was compelled to relinquish due to a back injury the former skipper has thought of giving up the more tedious Test cricket and opting for the shorter version of the game which has further exacerbated the problems within. Further, all reconciliation efforts have been in vain and the selection of the team which was to be done last week has been pushed back for this week, till the return of coach Tom Moody who is on leave in Australia at the moment.

However Coach Moody is not an official member of the Sri Lankan Cricket Selection Committee.

At present the 19 member pool is at practices, but it is also said the name of medium pacer Akalanka Ganegama who at present is bowling very well with the Sri Lankan ‘A’ team in India has also provided food for thought among the hierarchy.

The National team will leave for New Zealand on the 25th of November for a two Test, two twenty-twenty and a five ODI series.

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Copyright 2006 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.