Let sanity prevail
by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka Cricket has played down the ongoing pay crisis with national cricketers, telling us that everything will be tickety-boo after the Bangladesh series as they are currently negotiating with the players. But the fact remains that the players refused to sign the contracts and many of them are angry at the suggested pay cut. The new contracts are so flawed that some players would be forced to go through 200% pay cuts.
No doubt these are testing times as SLC has rightly pointed out. The board’s finances have suffered major losses due to the pandemic. But if there’s going to be a pay cut, let it begin from the top. The CEO’s salary of Rs. 1.8 million a month has not been slashed. But he wants players to take a pay cut. The CEO is not covering himself in glory these days as we witnessed during the COPE hearing recently.
In fact, the CEO’s salary has tripled in the last five years. In that scenario, there’s no rationale in asking the players to get a pay cut while the head of the organization enjoys his perks. It is very easy to say that this was a suggestion from one of the sub committees and pass the buck. But the CEO has been in that position for a decade now and before that as Director Cricket Operations for a considerable time. He should have given a piece of his mind to whoever the mastermind, who wasn’t thinking clearly in drafting the contract.
If the proposed contracts go through, Suranga Lakmal, a former captain and a respected senior player, would be earning an annual retainer worth around US$ 45,000, which is close to Rs. nine million. The CEO, at the same time would be earning over Rs. 21 million. How can that be fair? Whoever who prepared this contract is prejudiced.
Apart from a significant reduction in the annual retainers, the seniority payment too has been completely taken off. The mastermind who drafted these contracts is said to be a former captain, who in his prime earned as much as Rs. 100 million annually from SLC. When the board wanted this amount reduced, he had a bone to pick with the administration and together with his crooked agent, who ran a cricket website, sought political intervention. Time was when some of our captains spent more time at Temple Trees than the time they spent at the crease. Literally, they were asking for the pound of flesh and had it their way.
The board’s counter argument then was that they wanted a fair share of revenue go to domestic cricketers in order stop the brain drain as professional cricketers were regularly traveling to England and Australia to earn a living. SLC failed miserably. Senior players were powerful.
Now the roles have been reversed. Since the mastermind is in administration currently, he feels domestic cricketers need to be looked after and hell with elite players. The poacher turned gamekeeper should not be allowed to get away with his ill-advised policies. Let him take his dumb, nonsensical and undiplomatic policies elsewhere.
The players are up in arms. They are contractually bound to remain silent or else all hell would have broken loose by now as the recommended pay structure has taken things back to what it was 20 years ago.
Having said all these, it must be mentioned that players did need a shake up. The conduct of some of them in recent years has been unbecoming of professional sportsmen. Take the two kilometer run for example, which they are supposed to run in eight minutes and 30 seconds. Look at how many of them fail this basic drill. Or the skin-fold test, which you can pass with bit of discipline in your food intake and social life. Someone who is as young as Avishka Fernando, who has got a huge future ahead of himself, failing a simple fitness tests is awful.
Then there are allegations of players teaming up with trainers and physiotherapists and submitting false fitness reports. No wonder the ICC has categorized Sri Lanka as the most corrupt nation in cricket. Rarely a month passes without us hearing Sri Lankan cricketers either being charged for drunk driving, knocking someone on the road or being involved in a fight (some fights are now fought in social media). The new contracts ensure that players get penalized substantially if their conduct is not up to the mark.
Discipline is a must in all walks of life. So whilst retaining aspects such as minimum fitness standards and conduct of players in public, the pay cut that has no rationale needs to be reviewed.
Nobody owning up to Sri Lanka’s World Cup disaster
by Rex Clementine
Following the national cricket team’s shambolic performance in the ODI series in New Zealand there was confirmation that Sri Lanka will not qualify automatically for this year’s World Cup. They will have to play a qualifying tournament in June this year involving West Indies, Zimbabwe, Ireland, Netherlands and other teams in the lower ranks and only two teams go through for the World Cup in India this October. Sri Lanka having never missed out on an ICC event in the past will be under tremendous pressure to maintain the status quo.
Nobody is willing to accept responsibility for the debacle. None have stepped down. The coaches are passing the buck onto the selectors while the selectors are blaming poor domestic cricket standards and the finger pointing goes on.
Those holding responsible positions in cricket have overtaken King Kekille, who according to folk stories, always punished the innocent and spared the wrongdoers whenever he heard cases. He once had a goldsmith punished for a structural fault in a newly-built wall around his palace. On being questioned by the king, the bricklayer concerned said he had been distracted by an attractive woman who had been going past the work site several times a day. The woman, summoned to the royal court, said she had been compelled to make many trips to the goldsmith, who had delayed the delivery of her order. So, the king decided to punish the goldworker. Those holding key positions in cricket must be King Kekille’s descendants.
There are seven coaches at SLC drawing an annual salary of more than 100,000 US$ each. You expected better results from such a highly paid unit. As for the selectors, they have been in office for more than two years now and their flawed policies have made Sri Lankan cricket the laughing stock.
This after all is not New Zealand’s best side. The hosts had lost the cream of their players to IPL and Sri Lanka were favourites to win the series. Yet, seamers who were bowling at 120 to 130 kmph were running through the batting line-up. It was a weak bowling attack and the batting unit failed miserably. Thank god the likes of Kusal Mendis never played against the class of Wasim Akram. He picked up consecutive ducks in the two ODIs and he is our vice-captain. The selectors are quite keen that the captaincy will remain at SSC in case they have to axe Dasun.
The least said about the captain the better. He reviews a catch to first slip in one innings and then runs out the man in form – Pathum Nissanka – in the next innings and throws away his wicket when he needs to lead from the front. Dasun Shanaka’s ODI captaincy is untenable. He has failed to lead by example, averages 26 with the bat and doesn’t bowl enough and has no place in the ODI side.
After a humiliating performance in the first ODI, it’s funny how the selectors backed the same batting unit while someone like Sadeera Samarawickrama, who has been a prolific run scorer in domestic cricket, was warming the bench.The selectors approach to ODI cricket has been flawed. One major reason why the team is not occupying 50 overs, something paramount to compete in limited overs cricket, is that there’s no batter who is equipped to play the anchor role.
Successful Sri Lankan teams used to do that with the likes of Asanka Gurusinha and then Marvan Atapattu stepped up to that role. After their departure, Kumar Sangakkara did a splendid job at three but the current team hasn’t got a batter who is capable of batting through the innings. Most batters are happy to get a flashy 20 and then throw away their wicket.
There needs to be a complete overhaul of the way Sri Lanka play ODI cricket. For a nation that set the trends and were innovative in the 50 overs format, we have failed to move on with the times. Sri Lankan cricket has paid a heavy price for selectors’ flawed policies.
Hazlewood set to miss initial stages of IPL 2023
Royal Challengers Bangalore fast bowler Josh Hazlewood is set to miss the initial stages of the IPL beginning in Ahmedabad on Friday.According to cricket.com.au, Hazlewood will remain in Sydney having been sent back home after missing Australia’s four-match Test series in India, and will consult with Cricket Australia’s medical staff before joining the IPL. The report also added that he ‘remains hopeful’ of turning out for Royal Challengers later in the tournament.
Hazlewood was sent back from the Test tour of India due to Achilles tendonitis that had plagued him for two months, which came after he damaged his side in the first Test of Australia’s home summer in early December 2022 and missed the next three Test matches. He subsequently missed the ODIs against India as well. He last played for Australia in the third Test against South Africa in January. His fitness will be monitored closely given Australia have the World Test Championship final and the Ashes coming up immediately after the IPL ends on May 28.
Hazlewood, who was picked up by Royal Challengers at the 2022 mega auction for INR 7.75 crore, took 20 wickets in the 12 matches he played last season, finishing as the side’s second-highest wicket-taker.
Royal Challengers have suffered a spate of injuries even before the season has begun. Earlier, England batter Will Jacks has been ruled out of the season, with New Zealand allrounder Michael Bracewell named his replacement. Rajat Patidar, who was the team’s breakout star last season, is set to miss at least the first half of the season with a heel injury.Royal Challengers open their campaign against Mumbai Indians on April 2 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Argentina bids to host U20 World Cup in place of Indonesia
Argentina has submitted a formal bid to host this year’s Under-20 World Cup in place of Indonesia, which was stripped of its rights to stage the tournament, FIFA president Gianni Infantino said on Thursday.Argentina was the only country to submit a formal offer. The FIFA Bureau will decide whether to accept the proposal in two or three days with the tournament scheduled to start on May 20.
“We all know Argentine football and surely it can host a competition of this level,” Infantino told a news conference in Paraguay, where he was to take part in the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) Congress on Friday.
“There are other countries that have also announced interest but as a candidacy, with the government’s guarantees and other details, Argentina is the first and we will make the decision in two or three days,” he added.
FIFA stopped Indonesia from hosting the event after the country’s soccer federation (PSSI) said it had cancelled the draw because the governor of the island of Bali refused to host the Israel team.
“Israel is in favour of Argentina hosting, they deserve it as world champions. It is a very nice and big country, with excellent facilities. I hope they can also organize the 2030 World Cup,” Israel’s Ambassador to Argentina, Eyal Sela, said.
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