The egg theory always baffles me. I still keep wondering if not for the egg, how did the chicken come into being? Then what would have happened if the hen did not lay the egg in the first place? But, when you are kind of bored you just try this. Keep running round an egg [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

The SLSCA, the MICs and school cricket’s egg theory


The egg theory always baffles me. I still keep wondering if not for the egg, how did the chicken come into being? Then what would have happened if the hen did not lay the egg in the first place? But, when you are kind of bored you just try this. Keep running round an egg for a while and see if you could see any tell-tale signs? I guess you would end up as dumb as I did.

Just as much, there is another theory that I love to delve into. It is to learn who got involved in school cricket first? Was it the master-in-charge (MIC) or the school first XI? Yet again without the cricket team, there was no need of an MIC. Then without an MIC how were the boys going to get contacts to play against their opponents?

Then I guess what would have happened is — there would have been an institution by the name of the Colombo Academy in the 1800s where there were cricket crazy teachers who had come from Old Blighty and they played a match against St. Thomas’ in Pettah. In the initial stages, may be there were teachers and pupils in the teams of the two institutions and may be this developed into genuine school cricket which featured strictly the students of the two institutions. Thus the trend developed. Ah! May be now I have my answer to the second half of my question – MICs and school cricket were born together.

This is how the seedlings for this huge cricket tree were sown on Lankan land. From this beginning the tree grew and now it has engulfed almost the entire island and now you see even in a small town like Monaragala there are schools that play hard-ball cricket and the little cricketers who hail from there possess the talent to beat rivals from bigger lands.

Stop — rewind! Just pause for a second and ponder: Is our school cricket driving down the right lane or storming down a one-way avenue?

In the last decade or two, the Lankan school cricket has lost its sheen. It has spread like the famous Lankan wild creeper ‘Nidikumba’. It has reached every nook and cranny in this cricket crazy island. But does it still have that former clarity, where cricket had certain uniformity and the standards were kept high. In short school cricket produced players who could have fitted into any slot in the panel, be it international or just local club cricket.

Now there is a question that people keep asking: Is the Lankan school cricket structure properly maintained? Are there any misfits? Are there any schools that do not belong to the superstructure? At the same time, are there any schools which have to be given their due recognition?

The most noteworthy case in today’s school cricket is the Royal College issue. This is not the case that one sees at its face value. This is a typical case of what I intend to base some of my arguments upon. This season Royal are billed to play in the division II segment in the SLSCA tournament and they are not willing to abide by it and will go on with their traditional fixtures.

I am not worried by the surface spat. This is a case that runs deeper than what meets the eye. When one delves into the real case, that spat is between two individuals, who have drawn their guns on matters pertaining to the SLSCA. It all began with the ouster of a senior SLSCA official. He was voted out of office and now his rival and successor is on the warpath. However, the poor victims of this foreseen duel are the poor schoolchildren.

Now there is a fear, that any cricketer who represents Royal will not be eligible for accolades in an SLSCA organised event. Understood and granted. But, when it comes to the national level — for instance the ICC Under-19 World Cup or a national Under-19 assignment where all students who played cricket at that level are scrutinised, then the performances of Royal College students should be taken into consideration without bias or prejudice.

In the days gone by the MIC took upon the job because he understood the game and in most cases had played the game even at school level. Then it became a case of giving back some of the good times that you enjoyed at one point of your life as a student. Yet, in the past two decades or so, the modus operandi of the SLSCA has changed.

It has become another organisation, where the vote counts. If you can harness enough support, you hold the key and once you have it, the sky is the limit.

Recently I heard of this story, where a high ranking SLSCA official used his position to make a tour of England with a junior national team. How? Even when a junior national team goes under the Sri Lanka Cricket banner there is an official slot for a member of the SLSCA. Mind you when you are on tour with a national team there is a per diem of US$ 350 given to touring officials. Now the question is how many such tours are there for a year and who are making these trips with the Lankan junior squads.

Another accusation is that most of the MICs do not know about the game. Ironically sometimes even the president of the SLSCA, who is a principal of a school, knows next to nothing about the intricacies of the game. They are led by the officials who have mastered the game of burrowing, even under their own two feet.

The spreading of the game into every nook and cranny is good. But, if the game has to pay a heavy penalty for that, it is indeed a cause for alarm.

It is worth probing as to how many teachers who come in as MICs have really played the game at school level where two hundred odd schools are in the fray. Then in the next step, of the eighty odd members in the SLSCA executive committee, how many have played cricket and have a good knowledge of the game as to enforce changes in playing conditions. After all, it is they who bring in the new laws to school cricket in this country.

It is a known fact that the perennial members of the school cricket fraternity have built up the infrastructure in their own dens and are geared to play the game at a certain level. But, if the school cricket spectrum is led by an individual who hardly knows what goes inside the dressing room then even an institution which has the wherewithal may lose its direction.

I have seen at times the former players, old boys and supporters of schools openly clashing with the school authorities with matters pertaining to cricket.

Now we see Sri Lanka Cricket has opened one eye and is looking at this unruly giant which can gobble 5000 cricket balls in one gulp. However from the angle which we are looking at this problem — it is huge. The school cricket humpty is about to fall. Yet, all the king’s horses and all the king’s men are in deep slumber.

Now the scenario has changed. The MICs hardly could understand why the egg is there. Yet, they know to whom to vote and when the next trip overseas is on its way.

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