Besides made to be a current misfiring misfit, Shanaka has exposed a festering secretive system sustained by its keepers who are averse to changes that don’t benefit them:
Dasun Shanaka was virtually an obscure cricketer from a village in Negombo and never hit it big as a teenager in the eyes of Colombo’s elite decision makers.
But almost out of the blues Shanaka joined the prestigious Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC) and signalled business with a swashbuckling century in a T20 domestic match with as many as 16 sixes.
He was tailor-made to crack the ball and never in his sweetest of dreams did he aspire to be the captain of the Sri Lanka team at a troubled stage when behind the scene politics and under-cutting made nearly every player in the side insecure.
Unlike many of his predecessors, some of them arrogant in conduct, Shanaka was wholesomely media savvy, ever obliging and soft spoken at Press conferences never losing his temper or saw journalists as adversaries apart from one isolated incident on the eve of the Asia Cup final when he had a confrontation with a reporter over his slump in the batting averages.
Shanaka eventually found himself in a corner that every captain would despise and worse the last chapter he wanted to read was to be at the top when his batters crashed humiliatingly unable to handle the biggest One-Day final in years.
Daggers, needles and pins were pulled out and Shanaka was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whereas when Arjuna Ranatunga had the world’s best players at his disposal to win the World Cup in 1996, Shanaka also had to bite the bullet saddled with a team whose top six batsmen along with him performing like amateurs or schoolboys in their first match with the occasion being the Asia Cup final last Sunday.
He was just one win away from taking the team to next month’s World Cup in India with his head held high and his batting failures swept under the carpet for Sri Lankans are an emotional people who can brush off reality in the blink of an eye.
Shanaka is not the one to be blamed for his fall from grace. It’s the system or no system that makes captains in the island and Shanaka will take his place in history as one of them.
If there is a difference it is just that Shanaka was at the helm when Social media is active like never before, numerous are the cricket pundits and most unprecedentedly when his arrogantly shady employer at Sri Lanka Cricket cannot find one favourable member of the public.
As the clock ticks ahead of the World Cup, Shanaka is not only locked in battle with the media but also finds himself in a situation where he will be facing the most ferocious fast bowlers and spinners who are waiting for the kill at a World Cup.
To see him stand on the podium as an all conquering captain must be the dream of his current team coach Chris Silverwood who must have had his first unsavoury taste of Sri Lanka’s closed-door bunkum.
According to Silverwood, Shanaka enjoys the respect and backing of his team mates in the dressing room, but the media will never be able to get at the truth of what took place behind closed doors in the boardrooms of Sri Lanka Cricket
The only thing visible is that Shanaka is part and parcel of a festering secretive system sustained by its keepers who are averse to changes that don’t benefit them. Another stone that sank and it will take more than a captain to captain a sunken team overseas.