Will Sri Lanka be able to challenge the Indians?

5 August 2017 12:00 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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It would have been more gracious had the entire selection committee decided to call it a day at the end of the Zimbabwe tour, leaving room for a new set of selectors to be appointed for the Indian tour, because it is the responsibility of not only the captain or the Chairman of selectors but also the entire selection committee.

 

The Sri Lanka cricket team suffered one of its worst defeats against India in the first Test played in Galle, a venue where the Sri Lankans normally dictate terms to the opposition. 


With this defeat, one wonders whether the Sri Lankan team will be able to get anywhere near the world number one test team India, during this tour.


Taking a closer look at Sri Lanka Cricket, it looked like the administration was falling into disarray with the appointment of “White Lightning” Allan Donald to be in charge of the Sri Lankan fast bowlers and 1996 World Cup winning team batting star, Asanka Gurusinha, as Cricket Manager, on their tour to England for the ICC Champions’ Trophy. 

 

Things did not go according to plan and with the series on par at all. Accusations were directed at a player manager, who incidentally was in charge of the captain, for influencing the selectors. 

 

 


Part of this prompted the former Sri Lankan batting great Aravinda de Silva to move out of Sri Lanka Cricket. While in England, former skipper Angelo Mathews made himself available to lead Sri Lanka in the first Champions’ Trophy match against South Africa but was not allowed to do so by the team’s management. 


Had Mathews played, with Sri Lanka at 116 for 3 in 18 overs, and joined Upul Tharanga at the crease, things could have changed and we might have got the better of South Africa. 


However, the Sri Lankans did well to beat India where the captain showed his class, and even though they lost to Pakistan due to poor fielding and had to bow out of the tournament, the Sri Lankan team had not done badly. 


At the end of the tournament the Sri Lankan coach, whom Sri Lanka cricket had managed to recruit just 18 months ago, tendered his resignation for reasons best known to SLC officials. 


Meanwhile, the Minister of Sports decided to publicly state that the players should improve their fitness standards if they wanted to play for Sri Lanka in the future, if not the team would not be ratified by him. One of the Vice Presidents of Sri Lanka Cricket has decided to keep away from all functions and it is rumoured that he has decided to call it quits. 

 

Fingers were pointed at the selectors, the cricket manager and the captain. Two of our former captains, Mahela Jayawardena and Arjuna Ranatunga went on record to question the selectors...

 


This has been kept as a State secret, while the other Vice President is busy conducting investigations on the match-fixing scandal which took place during a Premier Tournament game. 


There was some doubt about whether the selectors, whose terms were ending on June 30 would get an extension. 


However, the Minister after getting some valuable input decided to extend their term until 31st December 2017.


With the arrival of the Zimbabwe team, one expected Sri Lanka to win the One Day Series with a clear margin. 


However, things did not go according to plan and with the series on par at all. Accusations were directed at a player manager, who incidentally was in charge of the captain, for influencing the selectors. 


This was flatly denied by the Chairman of Selectors. More accusations were thrown in public such as the ill fated Pakistan Tour in 2009 and the 2011 World Cup Final, which did not help to lift the morale of the players before the all-important final one-dayer which Sri Lanka lost.


Fingers were pointed at the selectors, the cricket manager and the captain. Two of our former captains, Mahela Jayawardena and Arjuna Ranatunga went on record to question the selectors by asking why the two best spinners did not play together to win matches and the series. The chairman and the cricket manager had different explanations which made us understand that their plans had to be put on hold after Sri Lanka lost the first match. 


The captain, on the other hand, safeguarded his self-respect and the team by gracefully accepting responsibility for the defeat before submitting his resignation from all three formats of the game. 
It would have been more gracious had the entire selection committee decided to call it a day at the end of the Zimbabwe tour, leaving room for a new set of Selectors to be appointed for the Indian tour, because it is the responsibility of not only the captain or the Chairman of selectors but also the entire selection committee. 


One wonders at the end of the Indian tour whether the two present captains would submit their resignations and the selectors will still hold on to their reins.


In a recent TV show it was revealed that Sri Lanka Cricket employs nearly fifty well qualified coaches, who I presume, are well paid for their coaching assignments. 


The future of Sri Lanka Cricket can be rosy if all these coaches can produce at least one quality cricketer each, whereas in time to come Sri Lanka will have a significant number of good cricketers. But the million dollar question is whether they can do it.


The Minister of Sports agreed to carry out an investigation on the 2009 Pakistan Tour and the 2011 World Cup Final which seems to be put on hold due to the Indian tour. 


I wonder whether he has decided to open a can of worms. Yes, the cricket crazy public are keen to know what had taken place behind closed doors, but is this the right time to do so? Or is it a ploy to divert our attention from cricket being played like politics in this country?


Furthermore, the 1996 World Cup winning Captain Arjuna Ranatunga went on to state, that if given the opportunity he would bring Sri Lanka Cricket its due recognition before the next World Cup in 2019. 


I wonder if he is aware that eleven of his fourteen comrades – including the skipper himself, with the exception of Roshan Mahanama, Muttiah Muralidharan and Kumar Dharmasena, that went on tour for the World Cup has had stints with Sri Lanka Cricket but failed to deliver what was expected of them.
With this backdrop, it will be interesting to see whether the Sri Lankan cricketers will be able to stand up to the challenge put in by the Indian cricket team who are already on our shores playing exciting cricket. 


It is advisable for all of us toput all this on the back of our minds and hope the selectors will put up the best available teams for each and every game, and the team management will boost the confidence of the players. 


The cricket crazy fans will rally round our Test captain Dinesh Chandimal, One Day and T20 Captain Upul Tharanga and support the boys to up their game, play the best cricket and give us something to cheer about.

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