I often wonder if I had to face a huge pay-cut from my company as a result of a decision it had taken for its benefit. This predicament could befall all professionals who live in this commercial society where payment for one’s skill is a fundamental right. There are different scenarios. For instance, we could [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

True professionalism and the Sanga blues


I often wonder if I had to face a huge pay-cut from my company as a result of a decision it had taken for its benefit. This predicament could befall all professionals who live in this commercial society where payment for one’s skill is a fundamental right.

There are different scenarios. For instance, we could take one angle. First you are also bound by a contract to the employer to serve him. And at the same time you also have signed up with another entity (this is a luxury that most sports people enjoy legally) to perform in some sort of a circus for a certain professional payment for lending your skill.

To do this you also have obtained clearance from your employer, but by a slip on the part of the employer he needs your skills at the last moment for the same performance that your other franchise is paying you a huge sum.

The predicament could be interpreted in many ways, but, if you are on the right path isn’t it your fundamental right to get a reprieve in some manner where everybody is a winner and your employer makes an honest effort to see it is done so.

Last week the Lankan sports scene was set ablaze with the Sangakkara issue.

It was a case of a fundamental right where he had legally signed up with the Indian franchise — Sunrises Hyderabad. Yes, we all know that Kumar Sangakkara also has signed up his yearly contract with Sri Lanka Cricket to serve it. At the same time Sri Lanka Cricket also has released him to represent Sunrises Hyderabad with certain conditions, but I wonder if the SLC contract included a clause to the effect that “In case the SLPL T-20 tournament fails, we will concoct another spurious T-20 tournament just to select a team for the Champions League Tournament and all players who have taken part in this tournament should represent the respective Lankan Provincial team at the tournament in case they win it”.

Isn’t it the truth that the SLPL, if it was played at all, would have had different owners for each franchise? In that case, it would have been the prerogative of the franchise which had brought the Kandurata team to see that Sangakkara played for its franchise by negotiating certain terms with the Hyderabad team and the BCCI because the Indian Premier League had bought Sangakkara’s skills much earlier than the local franchisee.

At the same time the Kandurata is not Sri Lanka. For that matter Kandurata team is not even Kandurata exclusively. It had players born in various parts of the island playing in it. It was something similar to selecting players to play in your backyard by mixing up numbers under a bat and you have to select one. So one cannot stake claim of representing the country for playing for this spurious franchise like thing. The Uva Next which took part in the Champions League was a multinational side. This Kandurata team became an all Sri Lanka team only because the administrators failed to concoct the SLPL for the second time.

Now comes the crux of the matter. What’s wrong with the relationship between SLC and Kumar Choksananda Sangakkara? If someone says there is no estrangement he is the biggest liar in the world. A captain who had led a country to become the runners-up in the ICC World Cup would not resign from his position if everything was hunky dory. But, Kumar Sangakkara did so right after the 2011 World Cup.

Then his Colin Cowdrey oration a while later also did not go very smoothly down the throats of many people of the echelon in spite of it being held as one of the most memorable speeches delievered in a world forum by a Sri Lankan.

But, from what we form this end, in this frame not only Sangakkara’s picture is portrayed. Even Mahela Jayawardene’s picture is there, but in this episode we are going to deal with only the man in question and his predicament.

Was the SLC honest in its negotiations with the Indian entity? We quote Sangakkara: “When I met the board Mr. Nuski Mohammed asked me whether to write to my franchise in India and say that I had chosen to play for my team in Sri Lanka, but being a professional I said it should not be so. But, the next day the SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga copied me an e-mail which he had forwarded to the franchise in India and that e-mail said that I had decided to play for the Kandurata franchise. Now my franchise in Hyderabad thinks I am disloyal to them and I cannot be trusted”.

That very statement says more than a thousand words. At this point it may be the SLC that has broken the ethical code.

Now Sangakkara anyway has decided to play for the Kandurata Maroons and not the Sunrise Hyderabad. It is a wise move by the cricketer who had thought of his future. If not he may have been subjected to other ignominies.

But still the question of the definition of whom a true professional is in question. A professional should hold the right, if he is within his legal frame, to choose where his skills would be, even if there are other norms. Initially the SLC gave Sangakkara the right to represent the Sunrises Hyderabad. In his own words, Sangakkara explained, “There were more than three months for the SLC to get a proper ruling about a player who would be in this situation because the SLPL was on the cards at that time. The SLC had ample time to find out such a situation”.

“My franchise wrote to me well in time and said that I was part of the Champions League team and then, when I knew there may be such a situation, I spoke to coach Tom Moody and asked if I would be a just a player in the Hyderabad side, but Moody replied that even if I do not play all the games, that I would be an integral part of their game plan and then I said that I would be there with them. That was two days before the local T-20 final”.

Now what has happened is a complete reversal. The local scenario and circumstances has driven Sangakkara to go back on his promise to his franchise, which I see as a very unprofessional move. But, looking at it from the local perspective we all know and are living in it, and is no wonder that Sangakkara decided to go back on his word.

Over the years we have watched the local cricket scene. We saw who was first in the infamous South African tour in the early eighties and who finally made it and were banned for life. Some even died through that hurt eventually. We saw Asanka Gurusinha retiring soon after his side won the World Cup in 1996. We also read the famous biography of respected ICC Match Referee Roshan Mahanama, “Retired Hurt”.

Cricket is a jungle in Sri Lanka and the larger you get the more prone you become to get shot especially if you in the wrong side of justice.

Sangakkara and this column have not been the best friends and we have had our own differences too, but, open discussion and understanding each other’s opinion brought sanity into the misunderstandings. Wish the whole world could live like that.

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