By Muheed Jeeran –
Finally after nearly two decades of waiting, the nation achieved their dream of having another world cup. This time it’s the T20 world cup. Sri Lankan Cricket fans around the world are celebrating this great achievement with our outstanding cricketers who Put Sri Lanka On The Map Yet Again. It’s wonderful news to not only to the fans, but also our nation.
Of course our cricketers have brought immense pride to our tiny nation. They have won two World Cups and Sri Lankan cricket lovers around the world are very happy!! But are our cricketers happy? Corrupt officials are enjoying all the perks but they fail to treat our cricketers well. It’s very unfortunate to witness that it is only when our players cause national pride, that everyone backs and supports them. However when they are having issues with the Sri Lanka Cricket Authority, no one speaks on their behalf.
I have observed that this usually happens when issues regarding their demands arise; they are forced to fight alone as there is no support rendered from either the fans or external parties. From my point of view, it is unjust to ignore their demands and this has usually fallen on deaf ears. I strongly believe that fans of these great cricketers must stand with them whenever they have difficulties in dealing with the Sri Lanka Cricket Authority.
Just before the start of the tour of Bangladesh, one of the officials stated that Sri Lanka`s national cricketers dropped a controversial pay demand and they cleared the way for them to play for the Bangladesh tour. But before this issue was cleared, former skipper Kumar Sangakkara was dropped from a practice match against the visiting Bangladesh team in the first week of March because he failed to sign his employment contract before the deadline. He finally signed the contract and joined the team. However, he told the media that he is obeying a gag order from SLC and he can only speak to the media about the contract after getting permission from the SLC. So it looks like today’s legend Kumar Sangakkara too is on bad terms with SLC and his voice too is silenced by SLC.
During that controversial time between players and the SLC authority, the Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage had instructed SLC to drop any player who refused to sign their new contracts and asked SLC to pick a new team for the Bangladesh tour. He said players are getting Rs. 4 million a month and it is about 400 times the salary a graduate earns when entering government employment. Well this is a bloody childish statement from a responsible Sports Minister! It is the player’s talent that brings substantial money to the SLC coffers and they have the right to gain a fair share out of it. I can imagine, today none will be celebrating if SLC listened to this inappropriate Sports Minister.
It was the Chief Selector Sanath Jayasuriya who held talks with the rebellious players, who agreed to the conditions offered by SLC. Jayasuriya stated, “There is no question of higher pay or anything like that. We all agreed that we must put country first before anything else”. I think Jayasuriya must understand that these cricketers are playing cricket as their profession and they bring in the money to SLC. So their pay check is important for them too, just like any other person. It is clear that they have been compelled to agree to the SLC conditions rather than opting to fight for their own demands. I wonder how many SLC officials have salary arrears? I have no information but I assume none. Otherwise they too will rebel with them to get their pay check.
Our cricketers have millions of fans around the world. Today, people from all sectors such as politicians, celebrities etc, are promoting themselves in social media networks. After the end of the 30 year war, President Rajapaksa and former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka gained popularity for leading and ending the war successfully. But these figures have just 285,000 and 136,000 supporters on social media. However, Sri Lanka cricket legend Kumar Sangakkara has a fan base of more than 1.5 million on his page and most of them are Sri Lankans. This clearly states that cricketers are more popular than our leading political figures. But are these cricketers not being deprived of their rights working for the SLC?
I strongly believe forming a Sri Lanka Cricket Supporter’s Association is much needed to raise our voice in support of them. I believe it’s a moral duty of the fans to back them and put pressure on SLC to positively respond to our valuable cricketer’s demands. I agree sometimes it’s not feasible for the SLC to deliver each and every demand, but we have to make sure that our cricketers get their fair share in comparison to these corrupt officials who enjoy more than the cricketers by carrying out underhand dealings in Sri Lankan cricket.
This is the best time to get these fans under one umbrella to have a powerful action group in order to exert pressure on the Sri Lanka Cricket Authority. This has to be done with an aim of eliminating mismanagement and corrupt deals. We have to bear in mind that fans are the main stakeholders in Sri Lanka’s cricketing saga and they can play a major role in backing our cricketer’s demands and clearing the mess in SLC.
Small ideas can grow big and strong, therefore a Facebook page named “Sri Lanka Cricket Supporters Association” should be formed to help fans make this movement a reality.