This is like any other game. First you have to form your own team and then automatically the opposition becomes a part of the fray. Then you have to concentrate on the strategies and see how you could form your winning combination, thus harnessing the talent in your possession. Then you have to practise, have [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Cricket administration: High time they donned their pads


This is like any other game. First you have to form your own team and then automatically the opposition becomes a part of the fray. Then you have to concentrate on the strategies and see how you could form your winning combination, thus harnessing the talent in your possession. Then you have to practise, have dummy fights and get mentally acclimatised to match situations. Then the rest is easy. You just go and play the game. Yet, no one will ever play a game to lose. You will strive within your faculties to win the game – most of the time at all cost. Human nature is formulated in that manner.

Plans, proposals and systems: They are forgotten faster than adopted - File

Yet in the real world of corporate sport, the situation is much different. In that scenario, there are more participants. The playing combination most of the time is beyond one’s control. There are several layers of administrators, officials and other non-playing elements between the ultimate player and the game. This is not human nature. This is corporate sport, where someone else drives the strategies and formulations and decides how the team is going to win.

Three months ago there was much ado about the Lankan cricket elections, where there was more politics at stake than straight forward candidacy. Everyone knows how the feuding main actors – Thilanga Sumathipala and Arjuna Ranatunga — strived to take control of the bat and ball for the past score of years. The feud took a dramatic turn when both became powerful figures in the present government. The only difference was unlike on other occasions, the present government was a political potpourri. There are different caps worn by different coalition members in the government and at times they even do not see eye to eye.

Then on paper the Ranatunga faction by virtue of Nishantha being the past SLC strongman commanded some muscle and the result was the Sumathipala faction formed its own concoction by marrying into the Dharmadasa ideology and forming a coalition prior to the cricket AGM. Yet, in reality, their principles were akin to white ball cricket being played in broad daylight in white gear and white sight-screens.

At the AGM, the Sumathipala faction prevailed, much to the satisfaction of the match referee who wore the same colour tie.
However just before the AGM, there was this interim administrator who tried to bowl a doosra in the form of a constitutional change at the eleventh hour, but, it was held back because of bad light and may be delivered on some future date. We learn even that party holds a killer punch, if delivered at the right time.

Nevertheless, the Sumathipala administration wields the power in cricket, and it is they who call the shots. Yet, ironically, three months down the road, they are still more comfortable driving down by-lanes.

The new administration began by proclaiming that they built a five pillar administrative structure that would adhere to the highest corporate ethics and they would even have some professionals to help out in the administrative process. In the same vein a change of the cricket constitution was also very high on their agenda.

At the same time, the new administration shelved the much talked about Zonal tournament drawn up by the Wettimuny administration saying that they would restructure the tournament format in a more meaningful manner with the stakeholder in mind.

Yes, in the three months, the biggest achievement of the Sumathipala administration could be the signing up of high profile coach Graham Ford to take Lankan cricket up to the next ICC World Cup. Considering the present plight of Lankan cricket, this is a huge plus.

Though the execution of the plot is tardy and tainted, the one-captain policy for all three formats is another huge plus that would only do good for the Lankan cricket cause, especially with the fledgling flock we have on the playing field.

Then coaxing former Lankan skipper Aravinda de Silva to handle the cricket mentor’s job and the appointment of Sanath Jayasuriya also would do only good for the cause at hand.

Ironically they have not been able to set a cricket committee of of stature as yet.
At the same time there are certain actions that the administration has taken, that has not been seen favourably by the cricket-loving people of this country. You attend any forum, the main topic would be the waste and mismanagement.

It began with the joy rides given to certain pillars. Certainly their visits to cricket grounds overseas even prior to a tournament or a tour cannot be acceptable, when the administration has shelved several good ideas — such as the swimming pool and the indoor-net project — put in place by the former interim regime.
We remember that former Interim Committee Chairman Sidath Wettimuny had stated that the necessary allocations were already made for the projects.
Then an ultra lavish sendoff for the Lankan cricketers for the ICC T-20 championship at a cost of nearly twenty million rupees cannot be included in the prudent list. At the same time when we hear how these monies were allocated – especially the list of names of the service providers it becomes a bit awkward.

Now it is learned that the administration is hoping to line in foreign expertise to streamline the coaching department. A good move, but, would our cricketers turn out to be of international quality?

As we discussed above the need for a proper tournament structure is still high on the agenda. But, it is learnt that a consensus is not even in sight. Initially there was much talk about a high power brain-storming session that would help formulate a strategy? This was going to be held soon after the Sinhala-Tamil New-year holidays, but we hear nothing of this nature is forthcoming.
A proper tournament structure has been the request of most of the cricketers and administrators who knows the stark reality. Jerome Jayaratne who knows both sides of the coin of cricket, coaching and managing, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene have reiterated that the need of the hour for Sri Lankan cricket is a tournament structure which is lean and mean. In fact it was Mahela Jayawardene who authored the now shelved Zonal Tournament.

At the moment the tournament committee has set up the Provincial Under 19 tournament, but, there is no discussion of how they are going to grow up with this strategy. At the same time the cricket administration is at loggerheads with the School’s Cricket Association. What is needed at the moment is streamlining the process and making it more meaningful and not alienating it altogether.

When we delve into the crux of the issue we see that every member in the ruling faction is more interested in strengthening their vote base than serving the cause of cricket. Be it a tournament or a thamasha to bolster the ego of the ruling lot with a sendoff bash, the stakeholder stake takes the priority.

That is why it is suggested that there should be a prudent look at the administrative pie and see how a constitution be formulated. But, who is going to bell the cat? Who wants to hurt the feelings of the stakeholder?

If one has the answer to that question, he would well have the solution to this whole predicament.

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