The fault lies on our cricketers not SLC | Sunday Observer

The fault lies on our cricketers not SLC

14 February, 2021

‘Men at some time are masters of their fates;
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings’

Shakespeare in Julius Ceaser


The Bard put it so aptly and to paraphrase: the fault lies in our own chosen cricketers --who now qualify at times to be called crackpots-- is beyond question. What has gone wrong with our cricket?

That is the question wherever cricketers, cricket fans and anybody who is somebody gathers be it in the clubs, pubs, buses or supermarkets keep asking and discussing.

In addition to the cricketers performing badly losing two series, one to South Africa in SA and the other to England in our own back yard everything seems to have jumped the cricketing rails.

What was once a well functioning locomotive running so smoothly, when the likes of Mahela and Sanga were the drivers, has overturned. And now with the chief selector and manager Ashantha de Mel throwing in the towel, the station chief has also quit.

After these cricketing calamities there was bound to be a change in the selectors and at the time of writing the new selection committee has still not been appointed.

The writer who has played cricket, watched cricket and written about cricket in its good and bad days for over 50 years make bold to say that the blame for the deterioration cannot be blamed on Sri Lanka Cricket as the organization, nor on the selectors or the coaching staff.

Cricket has become a virus like the prevailing Covid 19 with no cure in sight. And it will continue to deteriorate and one hopes it would not be allowed to die a natural death. Thankfully a bold Minister of Sports Namal Rajapaksa is wise enough to consult those who matter such as Mahela, Sanga and now Aravinda who heads a Technical Advisory Committee of Roshan Mahaama, Kumar Sangakkara and Muttiah Muralitheran to put the locomative back on the rails.

The virus has been spread by the cricketers and no one else is to be blamed or hauled over the coals. SLC has not neglected the cricketers, the selectors have put on the field the best available talent.

The coaches can tell and show the cricketers how. At this level the coaches can’t show the batsmen how to play a forward or backward stroke, the pace bowlers how to bowl an in-or out-swing delivery, the spinners how to vary their deliveries or the fielders how to take a catch etc; these are cricketing lessons those taking to the game should have been taught and learnt in their formative years, even if they did learn to have the discipline to abide by their lessons. But not this bunch of cavaliers.

So it will be seen that the blame for this calamity that the game is suffering today falls fairly and squarely on the shoulders of cricketers taking the field. If they are unable to adjust their play according to the wicket, conditions and situations then they are not worth the gear that they are donning and the caps they are sporting.

Where are the glorious cricketers the country produced before and after gaining Test status? Before gaining Test status the cricketers played the game for the love of it. After gaining Test status and the game being highly commercialized the cricketers’ greed for money held no bounds and so began the deterioration.

The greed for money grew in the controlling body too with those contesting for office, not offering a straight bat, but playing strokes that are not cricket, spending big money in buying votes and finally it was not the deserving, competent and capable men who held the high posts in the cricketing administration. Vote buying cannot be stopped as it is a way of life in all sports.

So until and unless the selectors are able to pick a strong squad and put on the field 11 dedicated, disciplined and determined cricketers who will be aware of their responsibilities and play with pride for the game and country, cricket will be in the doldrums.

Getting back to the resignation of former Sri Lanka bowling all rounder who bowed the first ball after the country gained Test status in 1982 as chief selector and manager Ashantha de Mel did not come as a surprise.

With the Lankan cricketers meekly surrendering two Test series to South Africa and England many were blaming de Mel and his team of selectors for not putting on the field cricketers who would play with determination be competitive and bring credit to the country.

So with de Mel quitting to maintain his respect and dignity the need has arisen for appointing a new chief and a team of selectors. One hopes that there will be fresh faces and not that those who have served before would not be recalled.

Many have been the instances where former players have been picked as selectors, only to be replaced and again be recalled to serve. These cricketers if they have any respect must remember that they served and were unceremoniously dumped when a change of guard was required and should refuse to serve again.

But those who served as selectors earlier are keen to come back because now a selector’s job is a highly paid one. After Sri Lanka gained Test status every post at Sri Lanka Cricket and those serving in various committees earn big money as salaries. Before Sri Lanka gained Test status, not many volunteered to be selectors. That was because there was no monetary gain and those serving as selectors had to be out of pocket when watching the cricketers who they were penciling to play for the country.

In the pre Test era those holding office in the Cricket Board had no headquarters and had to hold their meetings at some member’s residence. But they continued to serve for the love of the game. But now there is money for all involved in the game and big money at that. The temptation to hold office now is a virus.

Now that cricket has also become a remunerative sport, and as in the corporate world where performances are evaluated, and performance bonus’ are given......may be in the Sri Lanka case there should also be a penalty imposed for reckless performances....a thought only to make a point that ‘profit ‘has also ‘losses’ on the other side of the coin!

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