Rebel cricketers realise greatness comes with time not money | Sunday Observer

Rebel cricketers realise greatness comes with time not money

12 June, 2021
Sri Lankan players wait to leave their hotel in Colombo bound for England
Sri Lankan players wait to leave their hotel in Colombo bound for England

Their intransigent stance conflicted with their predecessors who lifted a World Cup without a cent in their pockets:

Sri Lanka’s once adored cricketers left on a tour of England claiming to play for national pride but in reality becoming a permitted band of 24 rebels to whom pay was more important than coming to grips with studying their on-field opponents only to realise that a noose hung over them should they abort.

The tour and the stance of the players only brought to disrepute both the establishment and the team and bore a direct insult on their predecessors who 25 years ago lifted a World Cup literally without a cent in their pockets.

Creating more critics than they ever imagined, the tour party by their childlike attitudes boarded a night flight possibly writing the outcome of the matches going in as a team of amateurs rather than professionals to face the defending world champions on their home turf.

They became rebels within rebels by announcing they’ll be playing for free thereby making Sri Lanka lose that image it once projected as the home of the good-guy cricketers that separated them from most of the international cricket fraternity.

“I think it’s a two-way thing. I cannot say the Board is right or wrong or the players are wrong or right,” said Ana Punchihewa who was cricket chief when Sri Lanka lifted the World Cup in 1996 with his Board bank account showing a mere Rs 300,000.

“This (player rebellion) could be the result of not having a proper player management system. If the players are questioning why they have been downgraded in their payments then the Board has to explain to them their weaknesses and strengths and where they have to improve as picking players on past averages is no longer valid.”

Punchihewa is credited as the pioneer in setting targets when he declared he had a vision to make Sri Lanka the best Test team and had to depend on the Australian Cricket Board and the Western Australian Cricket Association to pay for the presence of overseas coach Dav Whatmore and physio Alex Kountouri.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said the players embarked on the tour sticking to their guns by not accepting their annual contracts other than “covering their obligations with SLC and the England Cricket Board”.

Followers of the team told the Sunday Observer that it would have been better if the ring leaders had opted out of the tour than leave with a mindset unbecoming of a team whose main focus should have been on winning while most analysts believe the players should do well to realise that greatness comes with time and not money.

According to the current payment structure, a player who can be around for 10 years could earn an average Rs.300 million.