by Rex Clementine
The scathing remarks of Professor Charitha Herath during a COPE hearing pertaining to Sri Lanka Cricket exposed severe deficiencies in our cricket administration and the public could get a firsthand experience of how poorly the sport has been run as SLC took on former great Chaminda Vaas earlier this week.
Rather than sorting matters out behind closed doors, like it happens in professional environments, SLC opted to wash dirty linen in public and did not adhere to the best of corporate practices.
When the national cricket team’s Fast Bowling Coach David Saker left Colombo in January without informing his employers, SLC treated the Aussie with kid’s gloves. The board even didn’t mind going for an amicable settlement. Saker is a proven coach and SLC needs to be commended for the way they handled matters.
However, two weeks later, they were on the war path with another fast bowler – Chaminda Vaas. Was Vaas treated in that way because he is a local?
SLC paid Saker US$ 15,000 a month. They pay Vaas only US$ 3500. That is not correct. Vaas only asked for US$ 5000 more. But SLC made to look as if he was asking for the pound of flesh.
Interestingly, the decision that Vaas will replace Saker for the tour of West Indies was taken in the second week of February. But SLC had little communication with Vaas. Instead, they issued a media release announcing his appointment. But, the terms and conditions had not been discussed as it would happen in a professional environment.
Vaas was officially informed only on Friday, 72 hours before the team left for the Caribbean.
In previous instances when other coaches had to come in as replacements, SLC had compensated them handsomely. Nic Pothas is an example. When he replaced his former mentor Graeme Ford as Head Coach in 2017, the board paid him well. So why not Vaas? Again it’s back to square one. Is it because he was a local? Black lives do matter.
What Vaas wanted was a raise of his daily allowance from US$ 75 to US$ 200. What it meant was a raise of US$ 5000 for the entire tour of the Caribbean. But SLC chief Shammi Silva was not willing to negotiate. He would not budge an inch from his stance, which was go on the tour and come back and then we shall negotiate. Rather than taking the nation’s most successful fast bowler head on, Silva could have been better off had he handled matters diplomatically. But he did not. It has been claimed that he refused to meet Vaas. SLC has denied.
SLC officials claimed that they were willing to pay Vaas a sum of Rs. 750,000 on his return from the trip. Although it is slightly less than what Vaas had asked for, the former fast bowler would have been foolish to turn down that offer. Here’s the next interesting question. There have been several e-mail exchanges between Vaas and SLC. Did in any of those exchanges SLC mention that he will be paid the said Rs. 750,000?
There have been similar crises in cricket before. There are individuals within SLC who have handled matters completely differently.
Jayantha Dharmadasa was President of SLC when suddenly the selectors decided to fly in Sanath Jayasuriya as an additional player to England in 2006. The team and in particular Head Coach Tom Moody resisted. Dharmadasa intervened and drove home the point that having Jayasuriya in England early could turn out to be productive as he could acclimatize and be ready by the time the limited over games come. True to form Jayasuriya was in red hot form and slammed two hundreds in the ODIs and was named Player of the Series as Sri Lanka completed a 5-0 drubbing.
Mohan de Silva, another former President of SLC had to face a similar predicament after the tsunami in 2004 when players were adamant to return home but New Zealand Cricket wanted the series to go ahead. De Silva did not antagonize the players and in the meantime dealt diplomatically with hosts New Zealand and promised that the team will return the following year to complete the series. Accordingly in 2005, Sri Lanka made two trips to Kiwi land – in March to play Tests and in December to play ODIs. It was a win-win situation for all.
Such diplomacy was missing in the case of Vaas. The media release that SLC put out should have only said the board and Vaas had parted ways. Instead, it went to minute details. It should not have happened.
SLC seem to be having not many supporters these days. Their biggest supporter seems to be Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa, who took the side of the board addressing the Parliament. Namal needs to watch his steps here. As his Parliamentary colleague Professor Herath pointed out at the COPE hearing, the public does not have a good image of SLC.
Bringing cricket’s glory days back
Rev. Br. Nimal Gurusinghe FSC
After several setbacks in cricket in recent years, the national cricket team is looking to regain past glories. I must congratulate the national selection panel headed by former fast bowler Pramodaya Wickramasinghe for some of the bold decisions they have taken over the past two months.
In the Caribbean, the selectors handed the first Test cap to Pathum Nissanka, who made a hundred on debut and then last week in the second Test against Bangladesh, the selectors blooded in Praveen Jayawickrama, who took 11 wickets for 178, a Sri Lankan record for a debutant. It is also the tenth best figures by a player on debut in the history of Test cricket.
There is no doubt that we have talent in the country and bold moves such as these throwing the players into the deep end will bring us desired results.
I would like to see continuity in selections and for this to happen the current lot of selectors need to serve for a longer period of time. Our present system where we change selectors every year simply doesn’t help.
One of the things that I would like to see is resource personal like psychologists being brought in to assist our players. The modern day game has changed so much and a psychologist will be able to help players meet modern day demands. I see that teams like Australia, England and South Africa make use of psychologists. Although we too have done so, there is no continuity in this vital aspect.
One of the modern trends that I have seen in Sri Lankan cricket is our tail is too long. We do not have many tail-enders who are able to contribute towards the team’s total. We need to emphasize a lot on the tail getting exposure during training sessions and as a result they will be able to contribute towards the team’s total.
I am also glad to see that the selectors emphasizing a lot on fielding these days. At the same time, I would like to see them giving equal importance to fielding. This vital area has been neglected so long and that is one reason why we do not do well at present in one-day cricket. Sri Lankan teams of the past were on par with teams like Australia and South Africa when it came to fielding. But not anymore.
When we stress the importance on fielding in selections, if players are able to take half chances and create run outs that is going to be so crucial in crunch games.
Another aspect that I would like to see improve is running between the wickets. I can not recall when the last time a Sri Lankan pair completed three runs was. Physical fitness is so vital for this to happen.
Another thing that I would like to see happening is our players doing well not just at home but overseas as well. We are yet to win Test matches in Australia and England although we have been a Test playing nation for 40 years now.
I wish Pramodaya and his team good luck and look forward to see them transforming Sri Lankan cricket. Pramodaya is a member of the World Cup winning team and he knows what is required to become a champion team.
National badminton players dominate Summer Season Tournament in the hills
The hills were alive with the swish of rackets and smashing shuttles as the popular Summer Season Badminton Level I Championships came to a close last week. What was noteworthy was the performances of Sri Lanka’s top shuttlers who left no room for contention by winning all the plums of the scintillating competition. With Olympic prospect Niluka Karunaratne away on the international qualifying circuit and brother Dinuka domiciled in the UK on an advanced training program, the rest of the Elite Squad were equal to the task.
Ranthushka Karunatilake, for long in the shadows of his more renowned exponents came out fighting to get the better of the seasoned Buwaneka Gunetileke. The hunger Ranthushka displayed was plain to see for after giving up the first set, he clawed his way back to surprise the senior partner with a nerve wracking battle that went to the wire with a 21-19 score in the two following sets. Earlier, he partnered Buwaneka to clinch the men’s doubles with an overwhelming victory against evergreen contenders Clarence Homer and Hasitha Chanaka.
In the Women’s Open, Dilmi Dias had no major opposition clinching the women’s singles with ease against the up and coming Ranithma Liyanage before taking the women’s doubles with her partner, Kavindika de Silva. Young Ranithma just 13 years of age, though beaten in the final, is certainly making an emphatic statement in the sport. Badminton fans are sure to hear about her in the not-too-distant future.
Other top ranked players to impress were Rasindu Hendahewa and Viren Nettasinghe in the men’s category, while Panchali Adhikari and Madushika Dilrukshi were notable in the women’s category. Many others in the elite squad were not present due to on-going examinations, the likes of Lochana de Silva and Thulith de Silva and yesteryear champions Thilini Hendahewa and Kavidi Sirimanage. Sachin Dias and Hasini Ambalangoda are nursing injuries following the Nationals and are expected to return to the courts in the Southern Open, late May.
Watching their charges keenly were the National Coaches led by Pradeep Welagedera assisted by Yukthi Perera, Rajitha Dahanayake and Subash Chanaka, while Chairman of the National Pools, Palitha Hettiarachchi had a good look at the National Pool players, especially those in the Elite Squad who have undergone a very high-level training and conditioning over several months.
SLB President Rohan de Silva who is always seen among the Badminton Masters winning several medals both here and abroad was at hand to witness the performance of est players in the country and also give the Summer Season event a big boost by ensuring all arrangements were fully supported to achieve a very high level of organization amidst the stringent Covid 19 protocols.
Bangladesh-Sri Lanka ODI series to be held in Dhaka
The upcoming three-match ODI series between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will be held at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka, the BCB has announced.
The matches, part of the ICC’s ODI Super League, will be held on May 23, 25 and 28, within a bio-bubble stretching between the team hotel and the ground.
Sri Lanka will arrive in Dhaka on May 16, shortly after the Eid ul Fitr weekend, and complete a three-day quarantine. Their first practice session will be on May 19 at the National Cricket Academy ground, adjacent to the stadium. The visitors will then play a practice match at the BKSP on May 21. At the conclusion of the ODI series on May 28, the Sri Lankan team will depart on the following day.
This will be Bangladesh’s third ODI series within the ICC’s World Cup qualifying campaign. They are currently in seventh place, having beaten the West Indies 3-0 at home in January, but lost to New Zealand 3-0 in March. Sri Lanka lost to West Indies 3-0 last month, are now in 9th place.
The two teams only last week played out their final World Test Championship series, which Sri Lanka won 1-0 after a 209-run win over Bangladesh in Pallekele.
Sri Lanka will become the second international team to arrive in Bangladesh since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The BCB successfully hosted West Indies in January-February this year, in a three-ODI and two-Test series in Dhaka and Chattogram.
This will however be a different situation, since Bangladesh are in the middle of a strong second wave of Covid-19 cases. The country has been under a lockdown since April 5. The international flight suspension ended on May 1, but the country’s lockdown has been extended till May 16.
Bangladesh will be without their fast-bowling coach Ottis Gibson, with the team opting to use a local coach instead. (ESPN Cricinfo)
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