Cricket Collapse

Some Sri Lankans seem to think their national sport is politics. They cannot be faulted in that it is a kind of game which basically involves jumping, running, jabbing, somersaulting and wrestling. Others mistakenly believe that it is cricket, which they have a fetish for. But, paradoxical as it may sound, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is apparently doing its damnedest to help give the country’s national sport, volleyball, its due place. The best way to enthrone volleyball is to dethrone cricket, which has become the de facto national game. The SLC is doing just that! It is driving Sri Lankans, who are weaned on a regular diet of cricket from childhood, away from the game. The country’s cricket has reverted to the position it found itself in before gaining Test status decades ago. At this rate the day may not be far off when Sri Lankans get fed up with cricket and stop watching it completely.

All cricket playing nations have had their ups and downs, but what has befallen Sri Lankan cricket is apparently unparalleled. The rot did not set in, overnight, though. The signs of the game running down rapidly had been visible for years before the recent disastrous series. Other countries must be falling over themselves to play with Sri Lanka to set records. The Indians will return home, beaming from ear to ear.

Former World Cup winning skipper and current Minister Arjuna Ranatunga, has called for the appointment of an interim committee to run the SLC by way of a solution because, he says, those elected to run that institution have failed. What moral right does the government or any of its ministers have to be critical of others’ failures? The country is faced with the same problem where both the government and the SLC are concerned—the failure of the elected!

The yahapalana government’s aversion to elections is only too well known. Therefore, it is only natural that it wants to manage the SLC the way it has been running the local government institutions without elections for the last two years or so in keeping with its dissolve-and-control policy.

True, cricket board elections are a misnomer. What we witness during them is the very antithesis of democracy. Moneybags, capable of buying cricket clubs whose representatives are entitled to vote, easily secure the top posts in the SLC.

The SLC is in this predicament because those who don’t feel for the game have got into its top notches and are making bad decisions especially as regards selections. The same goes for the country at large which is being run by a bunch of rulers who have no love for it. People are in a dilemma because those who claim to be able to play a messianic role and clean up the mess in the SLC are no better if their track records are anything to go by. The same may be said of the stinking garbage heap that is national politics.

Former national cricketer Sanjeewa Ranatunga, appearing in Bandula Jayasekera’s Pathikada show on Sirasa TV yesterday morning identified one of the reasons for the collapse of cricket. The national players are worshipping at the temple of Mammon, according to him. No longer did they seek their colleagues’ views on their performance after net practices and, instead, they discussed real estate investment and allied matters, Ranatunga said, quoting an unnamed player. When one sees Sri Lankan cricketers’ glittering necks and wrists, as it were, one wonders whether gold is weighing them down on the field, depriving them of the much-needed agility, to play. Most of them are being controlled by their agents who have earned notoriety for wheeling and dealing.

Players’ lust for dosh, indiscipline and lack of integrity and commitment besides political interference and the SLC’s corruption and inefficiency have, over the years, eaten into the vitals of the luverly game. The only way out, in our book is to ensure that the gentleman’s game is played and administered by gentlemen. Easier said than done! How to find so many gentlemen? Let’s begin our search in daylight by holding lighted lamps a la Diogenes.


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