Sri Lanka slams discipline for a six, lifts ban on serial offenders | Page 2 | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka slams discipline for a six, lifts ban on serial offenders

9 January, 2022
Kusal Mendis-Niroshan Dickwella-Dhanushka Gunathilaka
Kusal Mendis-Niroshan Dickwella-Dhanushka Gunathilaka

Another case of emotions getting the better of public responsibility left in the hands of bureaucrats:

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has taken a giant step back and thrown discipline into the garbage dump as it lifted the one-year ban imposed on Dhanushka Gunathilaka, Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis in a scenario that is likely to backfire on the Players’ Code of Conduct clause and raise more questions on the current state of administration of the sport.

The trio were no strangers to acts of indiscipline and off-field frolics and met their Waterloo during a tour of England last June after they violated what was said to be Covid-19 regulations and escaped on a late night out disregarding a 10.30 pm team curfew by two hours for reasons best known to them.

Five months later Sri Lanka Cricket soft-pedalled the ban violating its own pompous boast of rooting out the bad eggs and permitted the trio to play in the money-spinning Lanka Premier League.

The lifting of the ban came two days after the mysterious and shocking “resignation” of 30-year old batsman Bhanuka Rajapakse who was one of the few players without black marks against his name and his exit was viewed with rousing suspicion and the state of bad player-management.

Speculation was rife that Rajapakse feared failing a dispute-ridden physical fitness test or was advised to move on by his spiritual mentor and former youth wicket-keeper turned Evangelical pastor Jerome Fernando over an unstable situation at Sri Lanka Cricket.

Hot on the heels of the Rajapakse saga, the readmission of Gunathilaka, Dickwella and Mendis is being viewed by many as a desperate measure to prevent an exodus at the expense of discipline.

In a public statement Sri Lanka Cricket made no mention of whether the trio had paid a fine of Rs.10 million each as part of the penalty for breaching the rules on tour, other than say they were free to eye places in the Sri Lanka team ahead of 30 international Test, ODI and T20 matches over a 12-month period apart from the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup.

“Upon consideration of the said report submitted by the Doctor, the Executive Committee of the SLC decided at a meeting held today (on Friday) to remove the suspension of the said three players.

“Accordingly, the three players will be able to engage in playing domestic cricket with immediate effect and will also be available for national selection,” SLC said in a statement.

At the time the bans were imposed, SLC secretary Mohan de Silva told the media: “We wanted to send a strong message to the team that no one is bigger than the game.”

A high profile Disciplinary Committee headed by a retired Supreme Court judge and a retired Army Major said to be a no-nonsense disciplinarian, recommended two-year bans on Gunathilaka and Mendis and an 18-month suspension on Dickwella that was disregarded by SLC which imposed a one-year ban on sympathetic grounds.

Gunathilaka at the time had a history of serial offences and was even referred to a psychiatrist for counselling after he was allegedly involved in a brawl at a hotel in Matara while Mendis drove his luxury vehicle into an elderly man riding a push cycle that caused his death in a hit-and-run incident in downtown Colombo well past mid-night that caused shock waves among cricket followers.