Blindly following IPL and killing Lanka’s golden goose

I was wondering how to explain it. Then I wondered if monkey-see-monkey-do would foot the bill. Eureka! I had hit the correct note. Wikipedia says: ‘Monkey see, monkey do is a saying that originated in Jamaica in the early 18th century and popped up in American culture in the early 1920s. The saying refers to the learning of a process without an understanding of why it works. Another definition implies the act of mimicry, usually with limited knowledge of the consequences.’

To a section of the cricketing fraternity, T20 cricket is the very epitome of the bad side of the game. It lacks technique, passion and over it the players are lured into that version of the game through greed rather than their desire to play good cricket.

To make things worse for the game of cricket, it was India which has the biggest cricket audience on earth, won the inaugural T20 World Cup. Part South African, Part Englishman, part Australian Tony Greig is not a person to let up a golden opportunity of this nature. He hooked in a couple of big bucks from India and managed to get names like Lara and Warne and set off the Indian Cricket League that bounced off a couple of question off the front gates of the Board of Control for Cricket in India. The official Indian cricket machine then declared war against the ICL, and riding the brain waves of now deposed Lalit Modi, the BCCI formed its own cavalcade called the Indian Premier League. Gradually the ICL which lost its way broke down and submerged into the oblivion.

With the success of the Indian Premier League every decent cricket playing nation wanted a piece of the cake. It was American millionaire Allen Stanford who was making the news in the West Indies with his own cricket international till the he was put behind bars over financial misappropriation. (Even the Indian T20 guru Lalit Modi does not live on a bed of roses for all his brilliance in today’s terms.)

Australia too is trying to fire up its ‘big bash’ that would be coupled with few foreign players while the English cricket authorities are also toying with the idea of having a tournament with bigger multicultural bash than what their having in their national team at present.

When Ana Punchihewa was the President of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka they formed a mission, a vision and a plan. By treading on that planned path, they did the impossible and the Lankan cricket transformed to the money magnet that it is today. Now all of a sudden even the Lankans are desirous of peddling their own format of international domestic cricket. They say that the Sri Lanka Premier League Tournament will spread itself to give birth in July-August this year. Though the news is bartered that it is Aravinda de Silva who is behind this move, still it is not officially confirmed.
Yet, there are questions asked by cricket insiders.

One insider is quite hurt about what is to befall on the Lankan domestic cricket. Taking in sequence he points out that the Indian Premier League tournament is a huge franchise-based multi-million dollar business that is signed off with success. Even Sri Lanka’s own Mahela Jayawardena was sold for US$ 1.5 million closely followed by Angelo Mathews.

Could Somerset Entertainment (SE), the Singapore-based and Indian owned company which has bought the Sri Lanka’s international-domestic cricket, do something to match the India Premier League tournament? asks the insider. He said the SE, in order to make a profit, has to sell the broadcasting and similar rights to conglomerates such as Ten Sports or ESPN, which in turn would also want to make big bucks through advertisements. If the broadcasting company needs the big bucks the matches have to be screened in India and if they need Indian public patronage they would have to include top Indian icons.

To have the Indian icons included in the tournament, the tournament would need mega bucks revolving round it. Could Somerset do it? He says if you throw peanuts you get monkeys. For a tournament of this nature if they are thinking in terms of paying US$ 20,000 to 30,000 to foreign cricketers, what is the talent they are hoping to buy? In the Indian Premier League, the most junior and inexperienced Sri Lanka cricketer to be signed stands to get a packet of US$ 20,000 and the India public may not waste their time in watching a bunch of half-baked players engaged in an international domestic tournament which is a poor relation of the IPL.

The bottom of the league New Zealand players also may not be the most attractive proposition. The insider also talked about the adverse effects of this bad move. The three-day club cricket tournament which was scheduled to begin after the Provincial 50 overs tournament was postponed to February 7 initially and then as a result of the Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara needing net bowlers up to the World Cup – the Club Cricket Tournament is postponed till February 18 and will go on till mid-May. Then in July-August the SLPL and the Club T20 will be on the road. These tournaments will be followed by the Provincial Four-day championship. Which once again will be followed by next year’s under 23 tournament.

The insider points out all this need intense training. This means muscle and bone waste and they need recuperation. Generally every cricket season is followed by an off season, during which the cricketers are engaged in light training and mending their flawed styles or stance, but by trying to introduce a heavy T20 right in the middle of our season, the Lankan cricket is losing its power to withstand the pressure. The result may be Sri Lanka having to import cricketers from India to play in our domestic tournaments like what they did to eggs and coconuts.

PS… your slip is showing
Yesterday a newspaper headline screamed that Sri Lanka cricket and four other institutions that comes under the purview of the Sports Ministry had not submitted their account details to parliament for years though it was required to do so under the Sport Ordinance and the Sports Amendment Act.
In reality the Cricket Administration of this Country should be run as independent authority sans any government/political dabbling. It should be run like any operation that prevails in India, England, Australia, South Africa or for that matter New Zealand.

Yet we take this opportunity to point out that it was Minister Jeewan Kumaranatunga who ousted a democratically elected cricket body accusing them of financial misappropriation – an allegation which was never substantiated.

Then Sri Lanka saw the dawning of this wonderful concept of eternal-interim (We wonder if the coining of the words are right) and they say that these bodies have not listed out their balances. We now wonder who is at fault. First the minister derails a well managed process that was running smoothly and also was re-elected and sets up a set of politically aligned administrators to do things their way. Now the government calls there is foul play.

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