Ex-cricket greats face backlash over no-balling new venue | Sunday Observer

Ex-cricket greats face backlash over no-balling new venue

   Asanga Seneviratne  &   Mahela Jayawardena
Asanga Seneviratne & Mahela Jayawardena

For years Sri Lanka’s charismatic cricketers have been held in high esteem although doing very little in retirement while regularly hurling brickbats at administrators.

But this week one man took them head-on after they opposed the construction of what was drawn up to be the country’s apex stadium in downtown Colombo.

Having ready access to the country’s governing hierarchy whenever they desire, four of them apparently led by Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara, Roshan Mahanama and Sanath Jayasuriya nudged Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa to no-ball the gigantic project claiming it was a waste of funds that must be channelled towards the cradle of cricket in the villages.

But while the Project was put on hold, former first class cricketer and administrator Asanga Seneviratne unleashed a hair-raising burst of shot-selection arguing that retired players who oppose progress have no track record to showcase as their personal interests, mostly overseas, get in the way.

“This unfounded criticism has come about by a group of former cricketing legends who have played just a minor role after their retirements to contribute to any meaningful manner in Sri Lanka cricket,” Seneviratne said.

While profiling that the nursery of the island’s cricket at school level was in safe hands with an annual Rs. 500 million allocation, Seneviratne called on the foursome to put an end to sledging the administration and instead contribute to build the future of a Sri Lankan team whose image he said has dropped due to diabolical selections and questionable player-management.

“Hopefully he (Mahela) and his former teammates will now get into the system and lead the way to do the work necessary and not just offer plans that no one will follow, said Seneviratne.

Most retired high profile Sri Lankan cricketers have yet to strike it big by way of projects that can sustain underprivileged young players.

Their images show no worthwhile cases of them even successfully auctioning any memorabilia to raise funds despite being adored and hero-worshipped during their playing days.

Jayawardena is currently the head coach of the multi-million dollar Mumbai Indians team in one of the richest cricket tournaments while Sangakkara’s ambitions on the international scene have given him his first taste of nobility in the form of the presidency of the aristocratic Maryleborne Cricket Club (MCC) which is the maker of the rules of cricket.

But their quest for high-end glory and enhancement has also made them let down their guard leaving room for questioning on the lines that their priorities have not been country-oriented.

“Giving their learned opinion and sitting on the sidelines won’t cut it,” Seneviratne said.

“They need to sacrifice their million dollar contracts and deals and once again serve Sri Lanka cricket. Will they be willing to do that.”

But asked if Sri Lanka needed such a cricketing edifice in close proximity to three other stadiums in the Colombo district, Seneviratne said: “Looking at the present and the future, Sri Lanka certainly needs one and we are the only country that cannot cater to 50,000 spectators at a venue”.

An Investment banker and Corporate sector stalwart, Seneviratne said that building a new venue will have to be envisaged professionally through what he called “Project Analysis and Investment Banking Reports.”

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