long and winding road
By S. R. Pathiravithana
Wasn’t I bemused? I thought it was rather funny! As I read
the morning sports headlines a sense of melancholy enveloped me.
The headline read as “Lanka has the ingredients for World
Cup success: Moody”. A very bold statement indeed, but, in
the present context is it plausible?
do not misunderstand me. Sri Lanka does possess the necessary ingredients
to chalk up a set of world beaters. However the way that the present
wagon wheel is turning the above statement may well end up as a
again Sri Lanka does possess the ingredients and so, do many other
Test playing nations who are in the fray, but there is one glaring
difference. The other nations are working on a set plan and some
of them have already mooted their plans like India and Pakistan.
Ironically Sri Lanka still seems to be groping in the dark.
one takes the whole scenario point by point one may understand the
version of the Lankan episode of the x-files. At present the cricket
administration has gone from the hands of Don Corleone to Norman
Wisdom. The general degeneration began nearly a decade ago, once
Sri Lanka brought home the world’s biggest cricketing plum
– the World Cup. With that achievement some were genuinely
happy and wanted to work towards the dream of becoming the “best
cricketing Nation by the year 2000”. At the same time Sri
Lanka Cricket rapidly changed from the status of being one of the
poor relations among the upper class to another in the higher echelons.
This transformation saw the Cricket board kitty also growing more
muscles in its belly.
this point there was another group who saw this as an opportunity
for image building and other fringe benefits that came along with
it. The result was Sri Lankan cricket became top heavy and brittle.
But, still Lankan cricket kept blooming. While cricket became more
and more attractive ironically those who ganged up together to hunt
the cricketing deer fell apart halfway and the hunter became the
hunted. The result….. Some went into oblivion and the others
became sworn enemies. Then the degeneration came step by step. The
administrators who came on to occupy the hot seat, were more interested
in satisfying the whims and fancies of their ‘yes men’
and building up a vote bank so that they too could go on to achieve
their own personal goals.
the surface everything was hunky-dory. But, administrations kept
on changing hands. Then at the same time the incumbent sports ministers
down the line started flexing their muscles with the weight of the
sports law which is still under their belt. Uncertainty crept into
every nook and cranny of the hallowed halls of the cricketing citadel.
was the past and now we could gradually step into what is lacking
in cricket in the present context. The present cricket administration
too was air dropped into power by the minister of sports under varying
circumstances. When this administration took over the reins many
a pretty picture was painted and the prettiest among them was the
Cricket Committee which comprised a host of past stalwarts.
message given …..The administrators would administer the game
while the cricket committee would look into matters concerning cricket.
No sane cricketer who loved the game could have asked for more.
It was the most promising scenario that came upon at the helm of
the most popular game since the time Sri Lanka brought home the
World Cup. But, sadly it was only in theory. Practically the administration
it was the tournament committee that was appointed to replace the
one that sat upon (maybe with certain changes) for the past decade
or over were lost in the wilderness. They came in with a certain
agenda and they tuned the entire club cricket structure topsy-turvy
to achieve their goal. However these manoeuvers also caused delay
after delay and now the administration is faced with a court case
on another issue.
the Cricket Committee who came onto the stage with a lot of promises
and some very constructive theories also ran foul with the administration.
The main issue was the Penny-Ratnayake case. The simple question
is why can’t Siripala be treated in the same vein as Jack.
One thing led to the other and finally the Cricket Committee chairman
Arjuna Ranatunge and Sidath Wettimuny walked out of the Maitland
Place doorway at least for the present times.
things of this nature were taking place behind the curtains at the
headquarters, the actors there in the middle too felt uncertain
about their own future. Rumours started floating around and in the
midst unwarranted or untimely changes were brought in and the cricketers
too started running for shelter. The results were a spate of defeats
that have dropped the Lankans from a very high pedestal to a lowly
gauge in the Word Rankings.
talent still remains. The wins against Australia, South Africa,
India and New Zealand prove this. When Sri Lanka did win these games
they won them handsomely. But in general does the Lankan dressing
room look the same confident forum that was there a few years ago?
Didn’t the very same faces which looked epitomes of confidence
with nine straight wins under their belts or the side that thrashed
the daylights out of the South Africans not very many moons ago?
only way out that many see is that local cricket must come under
a private administration that is answerable to a group of shareholders
or whatever. It should be a result oriented independent organization
that the government has no authority whatsoever. There should be
no volunteer administrators. Everyone who is involved should be
there on a fixed pay and should be result oriented. This must run
down to the very roots of the game. Till then Lankan cricket will
have talent but it will be turbulent.