21 November, 2019

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The Pitiful Plight Of Our Cricket 

By Upatissa Pethiyagoda

Dr. Upatissa Pethiyagoda

The dismal showing of our team in recent encounters, has led quite rightly to some soul-searching. But one fundamental question as far as I know, has not surfaced. This is whether bringing cricket (and other sports) under a Ministry is wise or desirable. I think not. Sports, Religion and Culture, are entirely matters of personal preference and should be beyond the purview of politics. This is tellingly reflected in our present plight.

This should be a necessary consideration in a country which professes to be “Scientific” in Cabinet formation. Also, is “streaming” of a population in the best interests of a quest for nationhood, reconciliation and cohesion? Cricket is a passion with us and shows as a model of integration.  Our team is a good indicator where a healthy mix of ethnicity, religious and social class is seen.

Significantly, the harm is seen in our local context in relation to Language, Religion and Sports. How does this match with what goes on in other countries? We are now near the bottom of the Test Rankings Table. Among the top six are Australia, South Africa, England, India, Pakistan and New Zealand. How many have found it prudent or wise to have cricket under a Ministry? A succession of our Ministers has had no significant contact with any Sport. The only one who has, is looking after Ports or Petroleum! 

There is said to be a “Sports Law” whose formulation should perhaps be a matter for the Legislature. That it is not enforced (and even the Rules of the ICC flouted) is nothing new, but shameful. Should not the Administration, planning and strategies for improvement be matters for the Governing Bodies of each sport (of course legally and well composed)?  Is there any significance in the fact that all our cricketing greats of the past have turned down involvement in the current administration? Should their voices not be heeded?

I am intrigued by the captain being blamed and penalized for such matters like slow over rate. I believe that this is unfair, when the bowlers directly responsible go free. A series lost or the team being demoted is not the responsibility of the captain alone. Suspension is possibly effective, because it means a financial loss. This is one consequence of turning cricket into a business.

 Players do go through periods when they do not perform well. Mathews who has big health problems, being axed seems cruel. Mahela went through a string of poor scores. Happily the selectors persisted! The reported offer by Dilshan – the best fielder we have recently had, to offers to help our team presumably unpaid, is cricket at its best. What one sees is the truth that we were taught, that “catches win matches”. Sanga’s reported refusal to be lured into politics or by the ridiculous offer to be an ambassador and even to candidacy for the Presidency, shows class. He is credited with a polite but memorable refusal, with the apt clever remark “Cricket is my game” is genius at work!.         

Cricket, laments a former hero “Is no longer a Sport, it is now a business”. The lure of money now surpasses pride in representing one’s country”. This warrants an examination of the desirability of paying Cricketers any more than their legitimate expenses. I recall a time when England had fixtures between “Gentlemen” (amateurs) and “Players” (professionals). Were Test Teams drawn entirely from the Gentlemen? Is this why Cricket came to be known as “The Gentlemen’s Game? Tellingly, the current Minister confesses that he knows little about cricket, perhaps his predecessors even less!

My firm conviction is that Sports, Religion, and Culture are entirely personal choices, well beyond the remit of Ministers. Political compulsions cannot justify departure from principle.

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Latest comments

  • 3
    1

    Sri Lanka won World Cup in 1996 and SLC has been under Sports Ministry since 1975. Those days cricketers had only 1 option that is to play for the team/country. Today because of this dirty nation India’s greedy and criminal mindset, Gentleman’s game has become a business and corruption with T20 and mafia match-fixing. In a materialistic world, once a player has played for T20 with millions paid, how can he adopt himself back to a patriotic one for a monthly peanuts? Definitely that will reflect in his practices.

  • 2
    1

    Why Crickwt is under a corrupt politician and politicians are fighting for it. Sri lankan doe snot have any good records when politicins are involved in it. Thilanga Sumathipala was very good friend of Maithripala sirisena.

  • 0
    0

    WHEN SIDAT SRI NANDALOCHANA WAS APPOINTED HEAD OF THE SPORTS COUNCIL HE TOGETHER WITH K WIJAYADASA DRAFTED A NEW SPORTS LAW WHICH EXCLUDED MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES AND POLITICIANS FROM HOLDING POSTS IN SPORTS BODIES
    IT COULD NOT BE IMPLEMENTED BECAUSE OF A CHANGE IN GOVT
    THE REPORT IS PROBABLY GATHERING DUST IN THE SPORTS MINISTRY
    IF IT CAN BE FOUND IT COULD SERVE AS A BASIS FOR A NEW SPORTS LAW

  • 0
    0

    SLC’s unexpected exit from Asia Cup was due to defeats to Afghanistan and Bangladesh. Both teams have left a mark in cricket. Afghanistan drew with India and India won Bangladesh with the last ball going off to the boundary off pad.
    Ups and downs occur but it is unfair to blame Mathews.
    .
    We all agree with Upatissa Pethiyagoda ~ “…….Sports, Religion and Culture, are entirely matters of personal preference and should be beyond the purview of politics……….”.
    Lankan politicians surround themselves with ‘Yes persons’. Sports is competitive and good sportspersons just cannot be submissive. Look at our Sports Ministers.
    In December 2017, the then Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera stopped nine cricketers leaving for India to take part in a one-day series because he had not given formal approval to the team selection. At a press conference Dayasiri suggested that the Lankan cricketers were fat.
    Remember the SB Dissanayake/Susanthika saga.
    Compare with cricket fan former Prime Minister of Australia (1996 to 2007), John Howard. He made it a point to watch as many Tests played in Australia as possible. He never interfered in cricket matters. Had he tried, he would have lost his seat.
    .
    The team morale of SLC is at a low low low. The top notch live off the earnings of the cricketers. The culture of corruption/nepotism/impunity has set in.
    Everyone must help to pull SLC out of their plight.

    • 1
      0

      Pillai,

      SLC did not exit from the Asia Cup. It’s the Sri Lankan team that exited the Asia Cup. LOL!

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