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It’s time; Ashley 

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By Rex Clementine 

Channa Wijemanne and Supun Weerasinghe are two busy CEOs  of reputed private sector companies . The former responds to emailed queries within a day while the latter does it within a few hours. How long do you think the CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket takes to respond to emails? Six days! 

Ashley de Silva is one of the nicest blokes that you will ever come across, but being a top CEO requires more than being a nice guy.  He needs to be a visionary, efficient, bold, innovative and at times capable of taking  unpopular decisions. Cricket’s CEO has done none of those in recent times.

Heads rolled after the painful series defeat to England. Ashantha de Mel stepped down as Chairman of Selectors and 24 hours later Sri Lanka Cricket sacked the physiotherapist and a trainer. But those in cricket circles believe that we were merely changing pillows to cure headaches. 

During our steady decline in cricket in the last six years, we have sacked captains, coaches, players and selectors. To what extent has the CEO been held accountable for his role in all of this ?

Ashley became CEO of SLC in April 2013, technically on 1st April! Eight years on the job we have made little progress. Our current ICC rankings make sorry reading and there’s little effort being made to address the decline.

There are all sorts of controversies in the sport. Discipline among Sri Lanka’s cricketers has hit new lows. Two players are slinging mud at each other using social media. There’s been a breach of their contractual obligations but the CEO has failed to put them in their places. 

Kusal Mendis’ hit and run a few months ago should have earned him an immediate suspension. He and his notorious agent not only buried all evidence but failed to honour their word of building a house for the family of the deceased. The CEO turned a blind eye claiming it was a personal matter. Mendis can’t buy a run since knocking down and killing the poor cyclist who was riding to work. Karmic forces maybe at work. 

Suranga Lakmal should have been sent home on the day he was caught on camera playing cards during the first Test in Galle but nothing was done. Instead a few rookies were told to pack their bags several days later. The whole nation was condemning the actions of some of our senior players and the only organization that didn’t see anything wrong with it is the one that employs them. 

Some may ask why we are singling out the CEO when the whole board is responsible for the current mess. CEO’s job is not only making major corporate decisions but managing the overall operations as well. He is the public face of the company.  Plus no board official has lasted as long as this CEO. The image of Sri Lanka Cricket has suffered irreparable damage in many areas in the last few years and Ashley has yet to be taken to task for any of them.

Under his charge, SLC saw its biggest financial fraud; an insider instructing television partner Sony pictures to transfer a sum of US$ 187,000 (approximately Rs. 35 million) to an off-shore account in Mexico. 

On field, the national cricket team suffered back to back series defeats at the hands of South Africa and England and the fact that the team was not adequately equipped to face the challenges was quite evident. 

The gap between the LPL final in Hambantota and the Boxing Day Test at Centurion was ten days. That was hardly the preparation one needed for a tour of South Africa. Quarantine regulations meant that the players had only a couple of days to train and Consequently went into the opening Test match without even a warm-up game. 

Majority of decision makers at SLC including the President were against going on the tour. The tour went ahead on the insistence of Ashley. The players made a mockery of the Test match with half of the team picking up injuries during the game. Clearly, they were not ready for Test match cricket. What was the mighty hurry in going to South Africa? England had just abandoned their tour to South Africa due to a serious second wave caused by a new variant of the virus. Australia did the same earlier this week. Why did Sri Lanka have to take that huge risk? 

Centurion and Wanderers are the two paciest pitches in South Africa. Maybe in the whole world now that WACA is gone. If the hosts were so desperate to stage the Boxing Day Test and New Year Test to prevent loss of television revenue, SLC should have negotiated to play at a venue favourable for them.  Ideally play both Tests at Port Elizabeth. Most readers would agree with us.  But not our CEO.

It’s a little known fact that the Sri Lankan team flew home from Johannesburg on a chartered flight. It cost the board an arm and a leg – something in the range of Rs. 50 million. Was this colossal expenditure justified at a time when the country itself is grappling with serious financial issues ?

With that 50 million SLC could have easily conducted two ‘A’ team tours. But ‘A’ team cricket is something that Ashley is allergic to. In a country where First Class cricket is so diluted, a responsible CEO would have seen value in ‘A’ team cricket and the exposure the younger emerging talent should have. Instead SLC under Ashley’s stewardship have virtually swept ‘A’ team cricket out of the system because it costs too much money. 

Ashley is SLC ‘s longest serving CEO. Even James Sutherland of Cricket Australia couldn’t survive the ‘sand paper gate’. His successor Kevin Roberts barely lasted 18 months. Ashley bats on regardless while SLC is steeped in Scandal after scandal.  

We are at the very lowest ever in our Test, ODI and  T20 rankings, sixth, eighth and seventh respectively. 

After eight years in office if this is the end result surely it must call for urgent remedial action? . Deliver or depart Ashley. Given our dismal standing in world cricket after eight years in office the option seems obvious!



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ICC names all-woman panel of match officials for 2023 Women’s T20 World Cup

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The upcoming women’s T20 World Cup in South Africa will have an all-woman line-up of match officials, in what will be a landmark first in the game.On Friday, the ICC announced the panel of three match referees and ten umpires, featuring officials from seven countries. The match referees are GS Lakshmi (India), Shandre Fritz (South Africa) and Michell Pereira (Sri Lanka). The on-field and TV umpires will be Sue Redfern (England), Eloise Sheridan (Australia), Claire Polosak (Australia), Jacqueline Williams (West Indies), Kim Cotton (new Zealand), Lauren Agenbag (South Africa), Anna Harris (England), Vrinda Rathi (India), N Janani (India) and Nimali Perera (Sri Lanka).

Selecting this panel was part of the governing body’s “strategic ambition of advancing the involvement and visibility of women in cricket,” an ICC statement said.

The panel will also have the most number of women umpires and match referees in a global ICC tournament, four more than the nine who are at the ongoing women’s Under-19 T20 World Cup.

“Women’s cricket has been growing rapidly in recent years and as part of that, we have been building the pathways to ensure more women have the opportunity to officiate at the highest level,” Wasim Khan, ICC’s general manager of cricket, said. “This announcement is a reflection of our intent in this space and just the start of our journey where men and women enjoy the same opportunities across our sport.

“We are committed to continuing to support our female match officials and provide opportunities to showcase their talents on the global stage. I wish them all the best for the tournament.”

The eighth edition of the women’s T20 World Cup begins with hosts South Africa facing Sri Lanka on February 10. Defending champions Australia are in Group A with Bangladesh, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Arica. Group B has England, India, Ireland, Pakistan and West Indies. The top two teams from each group will move into the semi-finals.The matches will be played in Cape Town, Gqeberha and Paarl with the final scheduled for February 26 at Newlands.

(Cricinfo)

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ACC to meet in Bahrain on Feb 4, call on Asia Cup expected

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The Asian Cricket Council (ACC) will meet in Bahrain on February 4. A decision on the Asia Cup is expected at the much-awaited meeting where the representatives of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) will be present. It could be a stormy affair in the Persian Gulf city of Bahrain, with the two boards having been at loggerheads.

The hosting right of the upcoming Asia Cup, which will be an ODI championship among the continental sides, has been a bone of contention, with the BCCI and the PCB being at odds over the venue. The August-September championship was allotted to the PCB but in view of political tension between India and Pakistan, the BCCI had declared that the Indian team will not be in a position to travel to Pakistan.

The BCCI’s refusal was initially escalated by former PCB chairman Ramiz Raja who threatened to boycott the World Cup in India later in the year. A similar stand seems to have also been taken by Najam Sethi, who succeeded Raja, but there seems little support from other ACC members to the PCB position.

The BCCI and the PCB sparred recently after Jay Shah, the BCCI secretary and ACC president, announced the schedule of the council. It was responded with sarcasm by Sethi who said in a social media post, “Thank you @JayShah for unilaterally presenting @ACCMedia1 structure & calendars 2023-24 especially relating to Asia Cup 2023 for which Pakistan is the event host. While you are at it, you might as well present structure & calendar of our PSL 2023! A swift response will be appreciated (sic).”

The PCB chairman’s comments were rejected by ACC which declared that Shah’s post was not unilateral. “It has come to our knowledge that PCB Chairman Mr Najam Sethi has made a comment on the ACC President unilaterally taking the decision on finalising the calendar and announcing the same. The ACC wants to clarify that it has followed well established and due process. The calendar was approved by its Development Committee and Finance & Marketing Committee in a meeting held on December 13th, 2022.

“The calendar was then communicated to all the participating members individually, including Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), via an email dated December 22nd, 2022. While responses were received from certain Member Boards, no comments or suggested modifications were received from PCB. In view of the above, Mr Sethi’s comments on a social media platform are baseless and are vehemently denied by the ACC,” the ACC said backing Shah’s position.

With the meeting in Bahrain happening in such a backdrop, it could be a stormy affair. A BCCI official, who was in Mumbai for the unveiling of Women’s Premier League teams, confirmed a final decision on the Asia Cup will be taken in Bahrain on February 4.

(Cricbuzz)

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Brian Lara joins West Indies management as ‘performance mentor’

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Cricket West Indies have roped in legendary batter Brian Lara as a ‘performance mentor’, who will work across formats with the international teams as well as with the academy. Lara will assist the various coaches with regard to “providing players with tactical advice and improving their game sense”. He will also work with Jimmy Adams, the Director of Cricket, on ICC World Cup tournament strategic planning.

“Having spent time with the players and coaches in Australia and in discussions with CWI, I really believe that I can help the players with their mental approach to the game and with their tactics to be more successful,” Lara said.

The 53-year-old Lara’s first assignment in the new role will be with the Test side on the tour of Zimbwbwe, where he has already joined the squad ahead of the first Test in Bulawayo on February 4. Lara will take a short break in the middle to discharge his duties as the head coach of the Sunrisers Hyderabad during IPL 2023.

Lara was recently appointed on a CWI review panel following their early exit at the 2022 T20 World Cup. They were subsequently swept 2-0 by Australia in a Test series and now seek a course-correction as they build towards this year’s 50-over World Cup in India.

“I am really looking forward to Brian making a significant contribution to our cricket system by providing invaluable guidance and advice to our players and coaches,” Adams said. “We are confident that Brian will help to improve our high-performance mindset and strategic culture that will bring us more success on the field across all formats. Everyone is excited to have Brian involved in supporting our players.”

(Cricbuzz)

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