Sri Lankan Cricket
Lovely game - Lousy Politics!

By Thilak S. Fernando

Many have written to the Sri Lankan newspapers about the plight of Mahanama and the latest pranks of the Sri Lankan Cricket Selectors for the UK 98 tour. 'Plotting, planning, skulduggery amidst giggery pokery', to quote a few of our inherited qualities as a nation, Sri Lankan Cricket Selectors have given an eye full to the world at large how acutely they are suffering from amnesia by dropping Roshan Mahanama during the England tour. It is 'madness, more than sadness', to see how the dirty political cancer has spread throughout the main body of Sri Lanka Cricket Board/Selectors to an unprecedented level ! Well! 'Hitting a mighty batsman with an equally mighty blow below his belt' need no further elaboration.

Looking back only a few years, one could recollect the golden words of the late Mr. Gamini Dissanayake, who was a once a government Cabinet Minister as well as President of the Sri Lanka Board of Control for Cricket: He said, "Politics inside the Board of Cricket in Sri Lanka is more complex than even national politics"! What was the outcome of that statement? When Sri Lanka toured in 1991 for a one day Test match against England one of the responsible visiting members of the Sri Lanka Board assisted the London Sunday Times sports columnist, Robin Marler, to wash Colombo dirty linen throughout the world, with a feature article he wrote under the title Bleak future for Sri Lanka' - highlighting all the dirty politics that were stinking to high heaven within the Board.

It was during this period that many an accusing finger was pointed at the cricket manager, who was regarded as a blossom come out of a political bud! Soon the calibre of international cricket managers', such as Micky Stuart (England) Bobby Simpson (Australia) and Bishen Bedi India, was compared with that of the duties of the Sri Lankan political blossom. Yet the Sri Lanka Board for Cricket has never shown the willingness to learn from their past experiences. Having taken a few steps forward by getting away from the conditioned belief that only a few schools in Colombo can produce cricketers to handle Leather and the Willow as good as any the Colombo elite, and after becoming World Champions too, it is rather unfortunate to see many who enter the inner power circle of the Board always expose how seven pounds of grey matter in their puny heads getting badly affected with power to such an extent that over and over again they invite criticism unto themselves, disrepute to Sri Lankan cricket and turn it into a contagious cricket virus in the form of moral decadence in the minds of players and would be cricketers of tomorrow.

Misdemeanour acts within the Board of Cricket in Sri Lanka have a history behind and have done enormous damage to the game already. It has been tug of war among Presidents, Managers, the Secretary or the Coach; Or between captains and players; players against managers or even Captains with the coach! What a scenario!

Qualities required to be a successful cricket team and to draw world's focus would be to have absolute confidence of the players of a team as a team during and outside the field. Obviously a skipper's knowledge, experience, his tactics and field management alone are not all the qualities to forge forward, but a captain also needs to have a clear head, untarnished with either political clout or egotistical hallucinations.

If British are to be taken as an example then it could be said that its their quality and sportive spirit of the game and how they put their differences, tawdry politics or personality clashes aside and getting down to business in a highly professional and business manner, they somehow survive in ebb and tide situations of Test Cricket.

When the English deciding masters of the game keep on turning round and repeating to Sri Lanka over and over again that 'Sri Lanka are not crowd pullers', obviously they are trying to drive a message home to be united and be successful. How long will they have patience to do so ?

Sri Lanka has already lost Asanka Gurusinghe after becoming World Champions and now Rohan being decimated who will be the next victim ? And if this trend continues what will be the future of the game and not to mention the damage it causes to the reputation Sri Lanka has already earned as World Champions in International cricket?

The answer remains clear and simple. If the current trend is allowed to continue and the Sri Lanka Board behaves like a bunch of incorrigible school kids, then there is no doubt that it will be the gloomiest day for mother Lanka and cricket, with our Heroes seemingly reduced to Zeros!