By Rajeewa Jayaweera –
The invitation extended by Minister of Provincial Councils, Local Government and Sports, Faiszer Musthapha to former cricket legends Mahela Jayawardene, Muthiah Muralitharan, Aravinda de Silva, Roshan Mahanama and Kumar Sangakkara to be Consultants to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has been rejected emphatically.
Mahela was the first to respond with a tweet “With all due respect to the selectors and the Sports Minister I have spent one year in the cricket committee and six months in a special advisory committee and no recommendations were implemented. I don’t have any trust in the system. If anyone wants to buy time, please don’t use us”.
Murali, in an official statement on Facebook, stated “I am of the view that it is an insincere, cunning move, more to use us when the Cricket administration is in such a deplorable state and stand by the sentiments that Mahela has expressed not able to trust the system as per his own experience of attempting to resolve pressing issues which was never implemented. It is sad that National cricketers are not consulted until it hits rock bottom! I would not hesitate to give of my time if I do realize the genuineness and credibility of the administration despite my own professional coaching engagements worldwide.”
Aravinda, speaking to the Sunday Island stated “The past players have been called up several times to help, but very little progress has been made. It is not rocket science as to how we could fix things. We have given proposal after proposal for the last so many years. We feel that there is an issue with implementing these recommendations for some reason. If the recommendations are not implemented there is a problem in the system.”
Roshan, in a letter, addressed to the Minister stated, ” It is my strong belief that we need to properly address and resolve some of the burning issues that the SLC is currently faced with prior to the formation of this Committee. Absolute honesty, transparency, and adherence to accepted norms and practices in all dealings connected with SLC are of paramount importance. Further, in the interest of the game that all so passionately love, a new Refreshing Plan of Action to resurrect Sri Lanka Cricket should receive the highest priority. I have a list of points that I have noted, some of which was discussed with you during our brief meeting a few days ago. Whilst appreciating your invitation, I am resultantly compelled to inform you of my inability to accept your invitation unless these issues are properly addressed and resolved. I must emphasize in conclusion, that my stance on this matter should not be misconstrued as lack of concern on my part to assist Sri Lanka Cricket. I would do my very best to assist Sri Lanka Cricket at any time but I detest political interference, dishonesty and lack of transparency at any level and until someone makes a positive to eliminate them, I consider it prudent to stick to my principles and play the selective role I have chosen.
Sanga, in a letter to the Minister, wrote “I am respectfully declining the same in light of my past experiences serving on a similar committee under the invitation of the former Minister of Sports. I spent over six months on that particular advisory committee and found it to be an abject waste of time as none of our recommendations were implemented or heeded. I firmly believe that what is needed for SLC is not temporary band-aids and short-term quick fixes, but lasting and permanent change. There are many cricketers and administrators with genuine intentions that will not come forward with their time, efforts and ideas as time and time again they feel they have been taken advantage of and used as pawns to buy time for political maneuvering. If you, Sir, are able to establish genuine bona fides and harness the support and commitment of H. E. The President of Sri Lanka, the Hon. Prime Minister and all other relevant public officials to make the required revisions, changes and amendments to the constitution of SLC and the Sports Law, I am sure that you will receive the full co-operation of myself, the larger cricketing fraternity, and the public.”
It may be recalled, Sanga, taking a principled stand declined the coveted position of High Commissioner to the UK offered by President Sirisena in the early days of the Yahapalana government.
The gist of all five responses is their willingness to contribute to Sri Lanka Cricket constructively. However, they are reluctant to respond to the Minister’s call on this occasion due to their past experience from previous stints in assisting SLC when their recommendations were ignored.
Minister Mustapha has to pay the penalty for ignorance, misdeeds and corrupt practices of previous Sports Ministers, Presidents of SLC and other administrators, some of who have not even held a bat or bowled a ball in competitive cricket.
It is indeed gratifying to learn; we still have Sri Lankans prepared to say enough is enough, take a principled stand and safeguard their self-respect without succumbing to prestige and positions thus ending up kowtowing to Ministers.
Younger players and fans alike, take note, these are the type of persons who should be considered role models and worthy of emulation. At the same time, do ignore some other cricketing greats who after hanging their cricket boots entered politics, joined the gravy train and blotted their record sheets.
It is not only the younger generations who could learn from the disciplined and principled stand taken by the quintet.
Septuagenarians and several octogenarians who simply refuse to go away continue to hang on to ‘satakas,’ ‘sareepotas’ and ‘coat tails’ of politicians. They could learn a thing or two from the stand taken by the five former greats. These septuagenarians and octogenarians, who have built their houses, educated their children and traveled the globe yet continue to cling on to high positions, carrying our directives from their political masters who are administratively, ethically and morally incorrect, as divulged during the ‘Sil Redi’ case.
Corporate leaders retiring from the private sector and entering public service as Chairmen and Directors of state enterprises too could take a leaf from the copybook of these five cricketers and decline to toe the line of Ministers and politicians.
Let us say three cheers to Mahela, Murali, Aravinda, Roshan, and Sanga.