The 2023 World Cup tournament, better known as the One Day International (ODI) Championship continues. But for the Sri Lankan team this year, it is done. We are out of it. The team is back in the country -completely disgraced and apologising to all and sundry over weak-kneed performances.
What is worse, charges of corruption within the cricket establishment abound. From Parliamentarians to the ordinary man on the street, people are furious over rapid turn-around of fortunes in the national cricket team.
Failure to produce in a workplace, normally results in laggards being replaced. Today, we see an entire team and their coaching staff offering excuses for job failure
In the ODI match against India our team was bowled out for a mere 50 odd runs. Narrowly avoiding the indignity of scoring the lowest World Cup ODI score in history- 35 runs in 18 overs- by Zimbabwe in February 2020.
Believe it or not, the team which reduced Zimbabwe to this low score was Sri Lanka in April 2004 and Mahela Jayawardena our current Consultant Coach was part of that team.
Yes, Mahela was the constant in both teams -one as a player and the other as the Consultant Coach.
According to the Sports Minister, the Consultant Coach is paid $20,000/- (Approximately LKR 6, 600,000) for his services.
What the Sports Minister did not mention was that, Consultant Coach Jayawardene reportedly also worked as consultant to the Sri Lanka Under-19 team on a voluntary basis -free of charge.
Jayawardena is also coach of the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL). In 2019, he was appointed head coach of Southampton side for the inaugural edition of The Hundred among other lucrative coaching assignments. His pedigree as coach is obvious
Jayawardena has also been involved in charity projects especially for contributions to cancer projects. He contributed to building the Cancer Hospital at Tellipallai and the expansion of the oncology unit of the Karapitiya Hospital in Galle.
On Sunday (12 November) speaking at a media briefing in the aftermath of our national team’s disastrous performance at the World Cup tournament, Jayawardene cited poor fitness levels of the players as a key reason for the disappointing performance. He also criticised ‘people’ who were jumping and screaming for not realising what modern cricket is...
Mahela, the consultant coach, seems to have missed the trees for the wood. The question is -what brought Lankan cricket to this disgraceful level of performance.
We do not need specialists to tell us that the fitness levels of members of the national team leaves much to be desired.
We have seen it when they limp off the field mid-match. If modern cricket means being bowled out for below 60 runs to the same team on two occasions, let us stick to old time cricket where playing for country stood supreme.
Another worry is how it comes to pass, that the highly paid coaching staff cannot recognise levels of unfitness among team members. How come our bowlers -both fast bowlers and even spinners- seem to breakdown and cannot complete a series?
Is it not the task of the coach to ensure injury prone individuals are provided adequate medication before the problem gets out of hand? And how come unfit players go on tour?
As Hamlet in Shakespeare’s play said, Something is very rotten in the State of Denmark’.
Amid the sad downfall of cricket in Lanka, comes a bit of good news. Aravinda de Silva who nearly single-handedly won the 1996 World Cup final, has been inducted to ICC’s Cricket Hall of Fame.
Aravinda de Silva’s exploits with both bat and ball preceded either Mahela’s or Sangakara’s exploits with the bat. Seems strange he is being drafted into the ‘ICC’s Hall of Fame’ almost as an afterthought.
Or, is it perhaps to cover for two relatively unknowns who together with him, were recently inducted into the ICC’s Hall of Fame.