Queen Elizabeth II who has reigned the United Kingdom since 1952 and who also holds the position of the head of the Commonwealth Organization must have heaved a sigh of relief when Australia’s Gold Coast won the rights to host the 2018 Commonwealth Games over Sri Lanka.
Not that this notion had any sinister political motive, but, certainly the monarch must be wary of the Sri Lankan sportsman who now has turned commentator and has developed a self taught trade in murdering the queen. She must have had sleepless nights thinking about her safety had she been forced to visit the island nation with him on the prowl.
We are still taken aback wondering about the merits that are needed to become an international cricket commentator -- which is a lucrative job indeed. Is it the knowledge of the game? Is it that the person who sits behind the mike has to explain the flow of the game in any old Gibberish and is accepted?
Or is it that the person has a good command of the game and possesses the vocabulary to explain to the millions of people who listen to their comments while maintaining the flow of the game in an interesting manner to hold their attention. I wonder what criteria that Ten Sports had in this instance, because it is the image of a country that is at stake.
Being vernacular is no shame. There are a lot of commentators, who explain the game in many accents and sometimes they may sound odd, but finally they do spell out a correct sentence in their efforts and the queen’s life is in good hands. But, if someone knowingly keeps uttering broken English and becomes the butt-end of condescending remarks of his fellow commentators then it leaves a bad taste behind the whole episode.
The situation here is as bad as the taste of selections that the pundits have made for Sri Lanka’s gruelling Tests in South Africa. The Lankan selectors have given the nod to T.M. Dilshan (Captain), Angelo Mathews (Vice Captain), Tharanga Paranavithana, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Dinesh Chandimal, Kaushal Silva, Lahiru Thirimanne, Dimuth Karunaratne, Chanaka Welagedara, Dilhara Fernando, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Thisara Perera, Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath.
As a matter of fact, some diehard cricket lovers in Sri Lanka have given up following the local game. The other day while watching the fourth ODI between Sri Lanka and Pakistan in Sharjah, I telephoned another avid cricket expert to discuss a point, but shockingly he was watching the South Africa-Australia match being played in South Africa.
There are many factors to this situation. First are the Lankan selectors free to pen down their choices? Is it that Thilan Samaraweera is not considered because he is close to another senior player who was once the deck-dealer and the excuse for his exclusion now is that he brings disharmony to the dressing room?
We at this end wonder what role the manager of the team has to perform. Is he only the keeper of passports while the others manipulate and gradually destroy the game? During the 1996 World Cup, the insiders may remember that there was one senior member who was a known squealer, but the management managed him so successfully that he became one of the main contributors to Sri Lanka’s epic achievement at that time.
Then at the same time Sri Lankan selectors have also dropped their best spinner by far – Suraj Randiv -- from this tour. Randiv with his height and high arm action may be the only Sri Lankan bowler who could generate bounce and bite off the South African fast and bouncy wickets.
We also wonder how effective both Ajantha Mendis – who has been out of the game for a while -- and left armer Rangana Herath would be on the African wickets.
At the same time the whole cricketing world knows that something is awry in the Lankan cricket home and that is why they have failed to produce positive results after the retirement of their champion bowlers Chaminda Vaas and Muttiah Muralitharan. The reason admittedly is that Sri Lanka is now led by its third choice captain (if he can consider himself at that count) -- T.M. Dilshan. He is making a mess of it. Now Dilshan says that he likes to have another go at his already failed role as the national captain on this tour where they will take on the high-riding Proteas.
A quote from former Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara’s Lords narration is worth mentioning at this juncture. “We have to aspire to better administration. The administration needs to adopt the same value instructed by the team over the years: integrity, transparency, commitment and discipline.
“Unless the administration is capable of becoming more professional, forward thinking – and transparent then we risk alienating the common man. Indeed, this is already happening. Loyal fans are becoming increasingly disillusioned. This is very dangerous because it is not the administrators or players that sustain the game – it is the cricket loving public. It is their passion that powers cricket and if they turn their backs on cricket then the whole system will come crashing down.”
Then if one keeps digging deeper into the Lankan cricket woes, the crux of the fault in Lankan cricket lays at its head like the common prawn.
In 2008 Arjuna Ranatunga as the chairman of the government-appointed Cricket Interim Committee saw what was going wrong in the Lankan dressing room. As a man who was in that same place a few years before, he knew what was wrong and how it was happening, but his approach towards the problem became the problem.
Instead of tackling the issue tactfully he went head-on and lost a golden opportunity of pinching off the stem while the problem was still young. From that point onwards the SLC heads used the cricketers more for their own survival than the game’s well-being and the game became more a street fight rather than a cohesive, earnest effort for success.
Yet, the SLC hierarchy keeps sprinting backwards. We now learn of a move to have an amalgamated and uncontested body at the helm of Sri Lanka Cricket. Is this what the ICC wanted?
This body will comprise members of two or three warring factions getting together on the call of a political strongman. This concoction will comprise the same old faces (mostly) that were in the Interim Bodies or else we can call it an ‘elected interim committee’.
Only thing what will happen here is that Sri Lanka will technically beat the ICC and also beat its sanctions, but it still would have a body that is ruled by the government and not answerable to the membership of the cricketing public. The successors will take turn and come in line uncontested.
At the same time there is talk of the old mongrel with fleas barking at the peripheries, looking for a bite of the cake.
In another move which I consider as the only positive move in this whole episode -- some active playing clubs are coming together and flexing their muscles to become the third force. Reportedly they will only contest for some key positions (not the post of president) in an attempt to keep the power balance in cricket intact and make the machine work towards the betterment of the now ailing game.