ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 9, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 15

Kissing goes by favour

Last Wednesday when former Sri Lanka utility all rounder Upul Chandana tearfully announced his retirement from international cricket, he came up with a very disturbing revelation! There he accused certain decision makers whose selections are centred on filling up places in the squad with dummy pawns just to keep some other deserving cases out of the scene.

Chandana said “When it comes to limited overs cricket they see to it that some players who will not play a single game are drafted into the squad and some others are kept languishing because there is no room left for them in the squad. And when it comes to Test cricket the scenario does not change. There too some players just make up the numbers and they too know that they will not be included for a single game in the series”.

Here, we scribes at the opposite side of the boundary line were aware of such things taking place, but this is the first time a disenchanted player who is disgruntled by the prevailing situation came out in the open and spelled it out boldly.

At the same time it was very disturbing to read the statements made by Sri Lanka chief cricket selector and former Sri Lanka opening bowler Asantha de Mel and the incumbent cricket captain Mahela Jayawardena on the issue of the ICL.

De Mel on his part went on record saying ``I can’t understand the decision to ban players from all activities. We have to look at the issue of contracted players favourably and the board must decide whether or not to send them depending on their workload.”

While commenting on the same issue the Sri Lanka cricket captain Mahela Jayawardena said to a local newspaper “It’s a sensitive issue and I don’t want to go into detail. It’s similar to playing county cricket and depending on the amount of cricket you play, players should be allowed to try and show their skills”.

Then he went on to lament that as the Indian cricket authority does not consider the ICL as a legal entity there is a problem. But, if the SLC could refrain from such sanctions it would be fine.

Here the question is about a breakaway faction like the notorious Kerry Packer circus of Australia who is threatening to unsettle the very foundations of established cricket by luring cricketers to join their bandwagon by handing over huge cheques of unbelievable amounts to take part in a rag-tag circus.

Why are these breakaway people trying to run their own circus against the established norms? May be that they have scores to settle or other hidden agendas up their sleeves. For instance a soldier can show his skills while fighting for an established army with honour or could turn mercenary and do the same job for more lucrative sums of cash, but still be in conflict with the established norms of society. However a Lankan soldier serving with an UN force in a given country has a sense of dignity like a player taking part in county cricket in England or playing provincial/state cricket in another given land which comes under the established umbrella.

Another argument that could be put forward is the current player burn out syndrome that the International Cricket Council is concerned so much about. This has prompted the ICC to introduce the FTP (Future Tours Programme). Now even a member board going ahead with a series that is contrary to the ICC’s accepted programme is not taken very considerately by them.

Player burnout is a serious issue that the ICC is keeping a very close tab on.

Another argument that could be brought forward is the Muralitharan issue. Muralitharan along with the blessings of the established firm took wing to England to share his skills with the fortunes of English county Lancashire. However while at that job, in just eight matches he bowled more than 300 overs and ended up with an inflamed bicep and missed Sri Lanka’s mission to South Africa to take custody of the inaugural Twenty-20 World Cup.

This made world headlines as Muralitharan was one of those players who could have made a difference to the final outcome of the fate of the TTWC.

Finally letting Murali loose was Sri Lanka’s irreparable loss maybe!

In the same breath the Lankan selectors pardoned their champion batsman Sanath Jayasuriya from a part of the series against Bangladesh citing player burnout.

Against a scenario of this nature both Sri Lanka captain and the chief selector do not see anything wrong in players joining a breakaway bandwagon when the players find it hard to cope with the challenges meted out by the established cricket structure.Presumably taking the present choices of the Indian Cricket League it seems that they are targeting some fringe players who are at the end of their career rather than a selected lot of mid-career stalwarts.

Then, is this sudden love by those who matter towards the players who are the so called ICL targets a ploy, to get them out of the way while keeping them busy and uncomplaining so that they could go on with our own sinister manipulations while taking complete control of the situation.

A few weeks ago we had a requiem for the established cricket career of former Lanka skipper Marvan Atapattu who was forcibly down graded and was bundled out of the established game through sheer disgust. Now comes the exit of all-rounder Upul Chandana who bade good-bye under similar circumstances to his peer. Ironically with or without said players (or any individual for that matter) the game will thrive as long as there is sponsorship and money poured in towards the sustenance of it. But, there is a certain truth that cannot be clawed and closed like a cat’s dirt. With these occurrences the game ends up that much more heartless a global conglomerate that wears a ‘Pepsodent’ smile to fool the general public.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.