A human going back on his words is not a new phenomenon. However, the consequences of it could be devastating.
Geographically and historically India has been Sri Lanka’s closest neighbour and ties between them run deep into our tree of structure going back into infinity.
On January 1st 2008, in Sri Lanka, almost every cricket fan who did not know the real intricacies, thought that finally the messiah had arrived when the incumbent government was forced to install Arjuna Ranatunga as the Chairman of the Interim Committee of Sri Lanka cricket during a numbering game in Parliament that had no bearing on sports even with the wrong end of the barge pole.
We still remember when he walked in a white national costume looking so serene, calm and collected and took no time to spell out his vision. What he spelled out at that time seemed a coherent all-in-one effort that would raise Sri Lankan cricket to its next plane.
Soon after, Mr. Ranatunga went on record again. This time he said he was keen on increasing the frequency of Tests against India and would take up the matter with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).
"I have just taken over. I am going to hold a meeting with the CEO of SLC Duleep Mendis and other officials and work out the possibility of having regular exchange programmes regarding cricket matches with India," Ranatunga was recorded as saying.
He said it will be on the lines of regular cricket fixtures that India has with Australia and Pakistan. The 44-year-old Ranatunga said he was keen that the two Asian nations play regular Test matches.
He said after discussing the matter with the cricket board officials he will hold talks with the BCCI officials and put forth the views of the SLC.
This was said as soon as he was air dropped on to the most important chair in cricket. Then in early February Ranatunga pointed at financial mismanagement in the previous administration and said that he was to ask the BCCI for a loan to tide through the rough and tumble. This sparked off a chain reaction that clove the SLC interim committe and led to the present empasse.During this period no one knew what sort of an impact that the IPL would have on cricket at large, but already the individual players had signed on under some lucrative contracts.
The idea of Lankan players being under contract to other organizations was not to Ranatunga’s liking.He may have been under the impression that it would undermine his authority over the Lankan players. So much so the delays in signing the players’ annual contracts dragged almost for four long months.
In the midst, he pulled his first stunt on the IPL. The tour of Australia to Pakistan was scheduled for March-April 2008 and included three Tests, five ODIs and a Twenty20. However owing to the internal strife in Pakistan, Australia pulled off that tour. Seizing the opportunity Arjuna in a sudden move agreed for a series of matches in Pakistan – this became Sri Lanka’s first tour that never saw the light of day.
Soon Arjuna Ranatunga became one of the biggest critics of the IPL and comparing it to ‘Instant Noodles’. At the same time this also led to the beginning of his differences with the current players.
Ranatunga who was a huge Indian supporter and was even ready to get support from them at one stage gradually began to change his line of allegiance.
The critic of instant cricket on one hand, then soon began to stage ICL contract players on the podium during India’s last visit to Sri Lanka in a clear anti BCCI stand. This was soon followed by the pardon of the banned ICL players for local tournaments.
Ranatunga’s next move was the now fizzled out Sri Lankan tour of England. For a country like Sri Lanka any such tour is a plus. But, being the head of the game in the country Ranatunga should have known the intricacies that would follow by agreeing for a tour of this nature clearly knowing that would end up with bad vibes. Generally one does not cut his nose to spite his face.
At the same time ICC president David Morgan who was the former president of the ECB also tried to portray this tour as one that was included in the FTP. Then if it was an FTP tour why did the ECB agree to pay Sri Lanka a sum of $ two million?
The latest is the Indian visit initially done by the Players Association secretary Graeme Labrooy and the subsequent tour made to Bangkok by a major Lankan delegation.
There the BCCI authorities had asked as to why Ranatunga is so antagonistic towards them. They had inquired as to what wrong the BCCI had done to Sri Lanka cricket.
Even at the last ICC meeting it had been portrayed that India was trying to buy out Sri Lankan Cricket.
Remember this is the very same administration that wanted to go to BCCI with a begging bowl for survival at one juncture.
Now at present Sri Lanka cricket is almost at a standstill. Yes, we will tour Zimbabwe followed by an engagement against Bangladesh. This is followed by two good tours against New Zealand and Pakistan, but, all those tours are not money spinners by any means. For the next two years Sri Lanka stands to earn only 2 million dollars – a sum which is hardly sufficient to sustain even the domestic tournaments.
We already have kissed goodbye to any cricket against India, at least for the time being, while the Pakistan administration is also very angry with Lankan cricket. They are cheesed-off with us over our attitude towards them.
But remember hey mister! We – the Sri Lankans have to co-host the Cricket World Cup 2011 in the Indian Sub continent. Some quarters ask if this is a ploy to make sure that that Sri Lanka is not going to win the World Cup like we did in 1996, when it was played here.
We wonder who has drawn up an agreement with whom?
However with grace from our good deities, the national cricketers have lived famously with this undue pressure, winning the Asia Cup, the Test series against India and a twenty20 cup in Canada, during the height of their troubles.