I am sure you have read and heard about the story of the two friends and the bear. While walking along a footpath, the two friends confronted a bear. To escape from the danger, one friend climbed a tree to save himself, paying no attention to his friend. Abandoned, the hapless friend who did not [...]

The Sunday Times Sri Lanka

Looking for more straws to cling to


I am sure you have read and heard about the story of the two friends and the bear. While walking along a footpath, the two friends confronted a bear. To escape from the danger, one friend climbed a tree to save himself, paying no attention to his friend. Abandoned, the hapless friend who did not know to clim a tree lay on the ground and pretended to be dead.

The bear then sniffed the guy on the ground and moved back into the forest. Then, the one on the tree scaled down and inquired, “It looked as if the bear said something to you before it left; what was it”? The friend calmly replied, “He advised me not to associate with people whom you cannot trust, and people who climb trees while you are in trouble.”

For me, this is just the story to describe the state of affairs at Sri Lanka Cricket’s. From one side, there are too many indistinct but disturbing happenings, and a majority of the folks are losing their confidence in the cricketing gamut. For instance, the monkey business of coming out with half truths like the unsubstantiated financial statements and the lingering probes into match-fixing allegations. Little by little, it’s eating into the minds of the cricket-loving public.

Then, the huge dose of doctoring of the cricket realms has left the entire game confused. For instance, just see the backup force recruited by Sri Lanka Cricket. Starting with Coach Graham Ford — just take a look at the army of expatriates the Sri Lanka Cricket is nurturing: Indian Computer Analyst Sriram Somayajula, High Performance coach Simon Wills, then South African fielding coach Nic Pothas — who was a right-hand batsman and wicketkeeper. In a total of over 200 1st-Class matches, Pothas has taken more than 500 catches. He was recruited on the strength of his fielding, but now what is he doing? Then our own expatriate Asanka Gurusinha – brought in as cricket manager, when there are others doing the same job at the Sri Lanka Cricket office.

The loss to Bangladesh may have given a huge jolt to the egos of some of the high riding glory seekers at the Maitland Place citadel. Anyone sharp enough to have an ear to the ground would have heard the reverberations.

First, they bragged about being a very strong outfit, especially at home, and gloated over the win against Australia.

Yet, for some analysts Down Under, Australia’s Lankan series was a dip stick, though they failed and lost three Tests on Lankan soil, it was a learning curve for their money spinner series against India. Now, they are managing their Indian series, mostly with the Lankan exposure they had a while ago.

Not that the Australians really wanted to lose against the Lankans but, they made it a point to learn a thing or two with that experience. For instance, the inclusion of Glen Maxwell into the Test squad is a direct result. He scored a match-saving century in the third Test.

On the other hand, what did the Lankans learn from the series win against Australia, other than to brag! Their egos bloated when they ended up with a series win against Zimbabwe, away from home. Ironically, it was not the boys in the middle who put their noses up.

Interference of all sorts became the order of the day. There came a time that the Lankan national selectors could not concentrate on their activities. A person who hardly had played a division one game to a Crescent club team, was overruling selection decisions. As a result, not once, but on two occasions, chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya stood on the ledge of a high rise, ready to jump into oblivion.

Then, on another occasion, they brought in Lasith Malinga on to the podium to announce he was back on track. When there is an appointed captain who has been given the job till 2019, do you think it is ethical to take just a player on stage, just because he is making a comeback? When such things occur, it tilts the balance of the composition. One feels that, however good an individual player may be, protocol should be maintained, unless it is a different news bomb like the Kusal Janith episode that hit the headlines a few months ago.

Getting back to test cricket – incidents of this nature only confuse the issue further. During the test series against Bangladesh, was our lineup a settled one?

Starting with the openers – the Dimuth Karunaratne-Upul Tharanga opening pair is a makeshift arrangement. Though Kusal Mendis is batting at No.3 for now, it is not confirmed. Experienced Dinesh Chandimal bats at No.4, but he is not sure of his place. No.5 Asela Gunaratne fills in the void created by Angelo Mathews, while Dhananjaya de Silva and Niroshan Dickwella may be shifted or changed. So the entire Sri Lanka Test Cricket batting lineup is not sure of their positions. Mercifully, makeshift Captain Rangana Herath will not be dropped under any circumstances. But, he is no top order bat and, at 39, we wonder how long he will last.

Earlier in the article, we were discussing the army of coaches we have in our midst. But, did anyone teach our cricketers how to field. It was not so long ago that Sri Lanka was hailed as the best fielding outfit in Asia but now, they are about the worst. Without hesitation, we could say the Bangladeshi fielding was better than the Lankans, during the series.

At the same time, even the Bangladeshi seam department was sharper than Lanka’s.

Even in the bigger picture, has Sri Lanka’s domestic cricket scene been settled? NO! Still, Sri Lanka’s cricket is groping in the dark not knowing as to which direction it should move. We still cannot conduct even our Club Cricket tournament. The longer version of the game is riddled with a match-fixing issue, while the shorter version has retired to the bar. The only tournament left is an invitation district thing which started under the tag – STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL. Why? It is being played under the bar.

Yes, they may concoct the Provincial Limited Overs tournament with four teams, just before the Champions Trophy tournament but, I bet, the real longer version of the Provincial Cricket may not see the light of day.

No! We are not going to dwell upon smelly issues of corruption. We are only focusing on the incompetence of the system that has cascaded to a situation of losing to Bangladesh for the first time – that too, in their 100th Test played on Sri Lanka’s own backyard.

If I was the bear, I would have told the guy on the tree to stay put forever.

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