Sri Lankan cricket hits new low


by Rex Clementine

The last fortnight has been quite tough for the followers of Sri Lankan cricket. First came the news that the country has not been given any ICC events for the next 10 years, followed by the storm that a drunk ‘A’ team cricketer allegedly had misbehaved during a plane journey from St. Lucia in the Caribbean to London.

Then two local umpires were banned for trying to fix matches, while a senior official involved in the administration of women’s cricket was termed an extortionist. If those incidents weren’t bad enough, the worst was to come last Monday as the ICC updated the annual rankings of the Test championship, according to which Sri Lanka has slipped down to number seven!

Currently, only New Zealand and Bangladesh are ranked below Sri Lanka.

While the national cricket team’s performances have been inconsistent in Test cricket since 2011, administrative lapses too are to be blamed. Since off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan retired after the 2011 World Cup, success in Test cricket has been tough for the Sri Lankans. But with a bit more purpose and a set of administrators who love the game - not their personal interests - Sri Lanka could have avoided such a calamity.

Soon after the World Cup in 2011, Sri Lanka’s first international assignment was a seven week tour of the UK. The opening Test was scheduled to be played in Wales with Cardiff hosting the game. The Sri Lankans were given ample time for acclimatization as well, and they had two warm-up games. But several members of the Sri Lankan squad arrived in England late and even opted to skip a warm-up game, as they were involved in the Indian Premier League.

The end result was they were blown away for their lowest total against England in the second innings, to lose the first Test by an innings and although they drew the next two Tests, lost the series 1-0. Could better preparations have helped Sri Lanka to draw the series?

Sri Lanka failed to win their next seven Tests against Pakistan, Australia and South Africa. It all ended with an upset win against the Proteas in the second Test in Durban, Sri Lanka’s first win ever in that country. But they were thrashed in the final Test, as the Proteas won the series 2-1.

The following year (2012), the Sri Lankans started off their home series against England and New Zealand by winning the first Test, only to lose the next Test and both series were drawn. Later that year, they were thrashed in Australia, 3-0.

Early this year, Sri Lanka could only win one Test against Bangladesh. The first game was drawn, the first ever drawn Test between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

While the form of the national team in Test cricket has been patchy, the attitude towards Test cricket by officials has been disturbing.

Last year, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), was in a hurry to either cancel/postpone or reduce some high profile Test matches. India were supposed to play three Tests against the Sri Lankans last year, but the series was converted into an ODI competition. Board chairman Upali Dharmadasa’s excuse was that he needed to fit in an ODI series to help a cash strapped board. He didn’t care about Sri Lanka’s Test rankings taking a dip.

The three home Test series against England was also cut down to two, as the IPL bound players wanted to play every single game of that domestic tournament in India.

The worst was when the board postponed a three Test series against South Africa, the world’s number one ranked team. That was followed by the conversion of a Test series against the West Indies in the Caribbean into a triangular ODI competition.

In all, Sri Lanka cancelled or postponed as many as 10 Tests over a 12 month period, and it wasn’t strange that the national team ended up at number seven.


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