Why is Sri Lanka Cricket keeping mum?

In another case of amateurish bungling Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) administrators have failed to counter the allegations made against the national team by two past Pakistan greats following the loss to India in a second round match of the ongoing Asia Cup which resulted in the host country Pakistan being unceremoniously booted out of the final. They questioned whether Sri Lanka had underperformed purposely to keep Pakistan out.

For Pakistan to have a chance of qualifying for today’s Asia Cup final, Sri Lanka who was already assured of a berth had to beat India. But eventually the result Pakistan hoped for did not materialise as India in a do-or-die situation came up with a strong batting performance to overhaul Sri Lanka’s total of 309 and win by six wickets to earn the right to play in the final.

The result did not go down well with two former Pakistani cricketers Rameez Raja and Waqar Younis who made striking comments about Thursday’s encounter on television. Both ex-players slammed the manner of the Lankan loss and questioned Lanka’s will to win the crucial encounter.

During the live commentary Rameez said: “We didn’t see a lot of will and determination from Sri Lanka in this game. So many batsmen got starts, but no one really carried on to play a big innings...Sanath Jayasuriya in particular looked a little bored at the crease, when he was looking good he threw away his wicket.”

Waqar commented: “I haven’t seen Mahela Jayawardene really being proactive in Thursday’s game. He is really on his heels ….the manoeuvring of the bowlers I thought was below par. He himself is always on his toes going to the bowlers.”

Rameez further slammed Sri Lanka saying: “Sri Lanka had the choice of picking a team to play them in the final, there you see another look at the batting card, Sanath Jayasuriya got a start as did Mahela, Kapugedera and Silva but no one really carried on.”
No sooner were these comments aired on television, the Board of Control for India (BCCI) reacted vehemently denying all accusations. The BCCI rubbished all the claims of the match being staged and its Chief Administrator Officer Ratnakar Shetty stated: “One should not undermine the performance of the players. Commentators can say what they want. We are not concerned. The perception that if India loses it is a proper match, and if India wins it is staged, is wrong.”

The Pakistani apprehensions could have been fuelled by Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene’s post match comments when he stated: “I think Pakistan can be a very dangerous side playing a big match in front of its home crowd. So in a way we have cut that element of crowd support out. It is good for India and Sri Lanka they don’t have to worry about this factor.”

However the Lankan captain denied influencing the result or choosing their opposition for the final. “We had no preference to play Pakistan or India in the final...we just went by the game in hand. While we were in this we had to plan for our future as well,” Jayawardene said."

Sri Lanka decided to rest their inform bowlers Chaminda Vaas and mystery spinner Ajantha Mendis for this game which made India’s task of overhauling the total easier.

With Sri Lanka cricket today being in the hands of bungling amateurish individuals who have in their first six months in office shown they know next to nothing about handling administration affairs, it is not surprising that there hasn’t been any reaction forthcoming to the misleading accusations made against its national cricket team. The chairman and CEO are attending the ICC annual conference in Dubai, while the secretary has been sidelined by the chairman and debarred from making any public statements. The media section is in the hands of an individual inexperienced in such matters.
When one side denies the accusation and the other side keeps mum surely eyebrows are going to be raised in some quarters about the authenticity of the victory.

Indian power

Even before Sharad Pawar, the BCCI president who is due to take over the chairmanship of the ICC in 2010 from England’s David Morgan, India is showing how powerful and dominant they can be in influencing ICC decisions. It was their tactical maneuvering of Zimbabwe asking them to withdraw from the 2009 ICC World Twenty20 to be held in England that saw them retain their ICC full membership, which was in the balance until last Thursday’s ICC annual conference in Dubai. Had Zimbabwe gone ahead and decided to play in the 2009 World Twenty20, the British government would certainly have refused to grant visas to their cricket team and the ICC would have been forced into a situation whether to take the World Twenty20 away from England or decide on Zimbabwe fate as a full member of the ICC.

The ICC reported at the end of the meeting that: “The Zimbabwe delegation has agreed to take this decision in the greater interest of world cricket and the ICC. This recommendation should be viewed as a one-off and will not be taken as a precedent.”