ICC’s T-20 World Cup (WC) ended spectacularly with West Indian Carlos Brathwaite hitting those four consecutive sixes, thus making short work of a daunting 19 runs in 6 legitimate balls. Yet, it was an ending only a West Indian would have dared venture, because that is their style of play and is second nature to [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

To build the perfect Cricket module for Sri Lanka


There is a heavy workload ahead for the Sumathipala cricket administration

ICC’s T-20 World Cup (WC) ended spectacularly with West Indian Carlos Brathwaite hitting those four consecutive sixes, thus making short work of a daunting 19 runs in 6 legitimate balls. Yet, it was an ending only a West Indian would have dared venture, because that is their style of play and is second nature to them.

Now there are parks in the Caribbean Islands named after West Indian skipper Darren Sammy. At the same time, the bewildered West Indian officialdom is trying to sew up the torn bits of their Cricket anatomy so that; there would be less bad blood between them and their cricketers and their officialdom. The West Indian cricketers have been waging a war against the attitude of the majority of the Caribbean cricket bigwigs for some time now, and at the moment they are at a crossroads.

That was the story of the victor. What of the vanquished? The reality is that the Indian subcontinent is not the place for a bad dream of a cricketer anymore – where, once, England all-rounder Ian Botham wanted to send his mother-in-law for an all-expenses-paid holiday. In fact, only India came into the semi-finals from the Indian subcontinent. The rest came from three different parts of the globe – Australia, the West Indies and England.

At the same time, the defeats have had very serious repercussions in some quarters. In India, it is said that, high riding Indian Cricket strongman Ravi Shastri’s contract as team director had ended with the ICC T-20 WC. Had the Indians gone two steps further and won the tournament, I am certain Shastri would still have been the Goliath of Indian Cricket.

Across the Hyderabad border, Pakistan Cricket legend Waqar Younis stood down Monday as head coach of Pakistan, following his team’s early exit from the Twenty20 WC, amidst a leaked report.

Younis also said that his recommendations to the Pakistan Cricket Board were never implemented, referring to a report written in the wake of the T20 WC that was leaked and published around the world.

We feel that, both the Indian and Pakistani camps have taken the defeats very seriously. Paying for their follies were two giants – in Ravi Shastri and Waqar Younis. Yet, it is very curious to note that the biggest ever fault lay within the Lankan camp. The Lankans were the defending champions, and besides the retired Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, the rest of the group was intact, while Lasith Malinga announced he was injured after he was selected.

With as many as 8 players who won the first T-20 title, plus the services of Dinesh Chandimal, the Lankans had the worst record at this ICC T-20 WC. But, up to now, no one has stood up and put on the cap, and said, “Sorry sir, I am responsible for this debacle.”

Last week, there was a high powered panel discussion on Sri Lanka and the future of Sports in Sri Lanka where, both Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva participated. Ironically, however, apart from the the lengthy dialogue about Lasith Malinga, nothing consensual occurred. I am of the view that, we Lankans refuse to look within, for fear of having to face up to our own shortcomings. The only instance is when both chief selectors Aravinda de Silva and then captain Kumar Sangakkara resigned from their respective positions following Sri Lanka’s loss to India in the final of the 2011 Cricket WC.

Then the next question is — “Is anyone responsible, is genuinely concerned about the pliAght of Sri Lanka Cricket, and are they seeking answers to the questions”.

This is not finger-pointing at anyone, but a genuine attempt to explore if anyone is keen to put on a new coat, instead of the one full of patches that the Lankans are now donning.  

Right through we have been passing the buck and the last in line very tactfully dodges the issue without anyone noticing.

Many a Cricket pundit has professed, while some even have gone to the extent of promising various remedial measures to effect meaningful changes within Sri Lanka’s Cricket structure, because they themselves feel that, with the present status quo in the game of cricket, it cannot be restored to the heights it had previously achieved.

The most prudent change that was on offer was the constitutional change proposed by the Wettimuny Interim Committee, which was almost a reality just before the last Cricket AGM which Thilanga Sumathipala won.

There was a proposal for a constitutional change forwarded by then Interim Committee Chairman Sidath Wettimuny to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe. This reached the ICC which in turn, accepted the proposals in principle. The ICC gave a time limit of one year to change the constitution under an Interim Committee or, to go ahead with the proposed Cricket elections and then work towards the constitutional change thereafter.

Then, via a political gimmick by Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, the Cricket elections took place with the promise of a constitutional change in the offing. Following the Sumathipala administration’s assumption of office, there were murmurs of the constitutional change. The initial change being the 5-mamber professional financial body set up to look into policy matters. Sadly, nothing constructive has happened in this direction to date.

Now at present there are other challenges posed at the present cricket administration. The most vociferous of all is, Arjuna Ranatunga who keeps bugging even the Lankan political hierarchy to dissolve the Sumathipala administration and set up an Interim committee, to which he would glad to give the leadership.

In the midst of all this, the Sumathipala administration is about to embark on setting up a Provincial Cricket Tournament with far reaching progressive attachments. Yet, at the same time, the backtrackers argue that this is only a ploy to strengthen the stooges who supported the administration at the last AGM, ( The guys in the Provincial and District forum) and the provincial cavalcade is only a front for the moneymaking SLPL.

We are expressing these comments because we want the administration to do the right thing and prove the backtrackers wrong.

Still, we are with hope for the new administration. They say, soon the Cricket committee will be in place and comprise personalities such as Aravinda de Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Ranjit Fernando to name a few.

With the advent of the Avurudu season, the administration intends to launch a high-level brainstorming session, with the best available Lankan Cricket experts excercising their grey matter at the table to build a module that churns out cricket for cricket.

For that, we need the best that the country has to offer. We need people of the calibre of Sidath Wettimuny, Michael Tissera, Anura Tennekoon, Sanath Jayasuriya, Arjuna Ranatunga, Roshan Mahanama, Ranjan Madugalle, Hashan Tillekeratne, Ana Punchihewa, Kumara Dharmasena, Bandula Warnapura and Lalith Kaluperuma, along with Sri Lanka Cricket Committee members and the seniors of the present team — the best cross section without harbouring petty differences, working towards this Lankan Cricket module.

If the brainstorming session is a success and their decisions scrutinised, the administration would have to abide by its decisions. If the forum says that changes must be effected, they must be done. It should be an effort by Lankan Cricketers — paving the way towards a meaningful tomorrow for our future national cricketers.

SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala is of the view that there should be common consensus so that the high powered forum could achieve some meaningful changes to our ailing cricket.

There is a heavy workload ahead for the Sumathipala cricket administration. However this mission may not exactly be successful if the administration is going to appoint Mr. Bean to row your boat either


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