Cricket administration lacks professionalism

Often there is talk of our cricketers playing the game professionally. Today they are up there with the best in the game and have brought honour and glory to the country by bagging many international awards the crème de la crème of it being winning the World Cup and the ICC Spirit of Cricket which they have won for two consecutive years – 2007 and 2008. But the same cannot be said of our cricket administration which has over the past decade or so been riddled with petty politics and a lack of professionalism leaving it a laughing stock in the eyes of the cricket world.

Becoming World Cup champions in 1996 brought about a new dimension to Sri Lanka cricket administration which has failed to change with the times and streamline itself in a professional way. As a result they have been making the same mistakes over and over again and to say the least, been rather amateurish in handling certain issues.

Take for instance the problem that cropped up with regard to the IPL and the tour of England next year where for some weeks there was a tussle between the IPL contracted players and the current administration headed by former captain Arjuna Ranatunga over who should play where as both series clashed with each other.

That kind of situation could have easily been avoided had Ranatunga been a bit more diplomatic and discussed the problem with the rest of the interim committee members and senior players of the national team. But instead, when the ECB offered the tour to Sri Lanka after Zimbabwe pulled out, he took the decision upon himself and assured ECB that a full strength Sri Lanka team would fly to London for two Tests and three ODIs. This is what you call lack of professionalism in handling matters of this nature. What eventually happened was that the Sports Minister had to step in to resolve the issue and he has taken a decision to allow the IPL contracted players to fulfil their obligations as the England tour was not scheduled at the time when they signed up with the Indian league. Now Ranatunga is faced with the dilemma of sending a second string Sri Lanka side to England which the ECB is not likely to accept. They have already put on hold the sale of tickets for one of the Tests scheduled to be played at Durham. The present status is that Sri Lanka are requesting for a change of dates in the itinerary from the ECB so that they could get their best players across to England and save the tour. From Sri Lanka’s point of view the tour is important to boost their almost empty coffers as it would bring in much needed finance to the tune of one million pounds sterling as guarantee money.

That is all well and good but where Sri Lanka Cricket erred is in not taking a collective decision on the England tour which has led to a lot of embarrassment and heartburn that could have been easily avoided. One cannot blame the cricketers for taking a stand on the issue because the England tour is not one belonging to the Future Tours Programme (FTP) but an adhoc arrangement which just sprung out of the blue. One can understand Ranatunga’s concern to get more Test matches for Sri Lanka and rake in some money for his cash-strapped cricket board, but then you cannot go about doing things in a dogmatic manner.

Then take the case of the Canada Cup Twenty20 four-nation tournament where the team is still uncertain of their departure dates because of technical problems like visas and bookings for which there has been a delay from the organisers end. This has left the Sri Lanka team in a situation where they could go straight into their first game against Zimbabwe without even having time for a net session. We are still not babes in the woods and SLC should have sounded off the organisers strongly that unless everything was finalised by a certain date the team would not come. Is it the US$600,000 guarantee money which SLC would receive as participation fees that has softened their stance from making such a stand against the organisers? Any other cricket board would have taken the bull by the horns and acted in a professional manner not allowing its national team be made a scapegoat. But sadly that is Sri Lanka cricket administration for you.