Unsporty conduct by Joes

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By 2017-04-12

Dear Readers, let me roll out the sequence of events that took place before/at/after the 43rd Joe-Pete Limited Over Cricket Encounter that was played at the SSC grounds on 25 March, 2017 (Saturday).

SPC enrolled Australian born Sulakshana Shenura Fernando in Sept. 2016 on a request made by his father, because he wanted his son to learn the Sri Lankan way of life at first hand and be able to integrate easily into the social and cultural network of his motherland. Since he met all the necessary criteria he was enrolled to SPC as a normal fee paying student and commenced schooling in Sept. 2016. He holds dual citizenship.

In the past, many sportsmen represented Sri Lankan Public Schools who were born in other countries. (Ex: Ibrahim Hussain Didi a Maldivian National captained First XV SPC Rugby in 1979. How about Mathew Abeysinghe the Swimmer? There are many Trinity sportsmen who represented the school after being born in other countries.)

Sulakshana was duly registered with the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA). He played in a few Inter-School first eleven matches during the season, including the Joe-Pete 'Mini Battle' that was played at Darley Road on 24/25 Feb. He was given a participation certificate signed by both Rectors. Further, he was in the squad for the Big Match that was played on 3/4 March at the P. Sara Stadium. His photographs, performance details etc. appeared in the Big Match Souvenir. On that occasion too he was given a Match Participation Certificate signed by both Rectors and this Certificate was handed over to him by the Rector of SJC at the pre-match award Ceremony.

Up to this point, NOT A SINGLE Josephian (past or present) or any other authority at SJC had issues with this boy. At the said limited over encounter Sulakshana scored a brilliant 90, and along with Manelka de Silva who scored a match winning century, put up the highest partnership for any wicket in this limited over series.

This was too much to stomach for some old Joes. (Mind you it was the third successive defeat in the series, and as far as the record books were concerned, since 2010 up to 2016 SJC had lost three big matches). At the same time, during the last few years SPC was getting 'Best School Team' award at different Cricket award ceremonies and last year in Div.I Inter-School Cricket Tournament became Joint Champions, and this year too, being the best third or fourth team in Div.I league tournament. (Out of 36 school Teams).

Some old Joes had difficulty to digest these achievements by SPC and started to hatch the coup. When they analyzed the defeat they found this boy Sulakshana. In fact, one of them went to the extent of contacting his good old buddy in Aussie (again an old Joe) to get more information about this boy. They started their ugly mission around 27 March on the F.B.'s saying that Sulakshana is not eligible to play; he is studying at a University in Australia and playing cricket for a Club in Brisbane etc..

On 28 March (Tuesday) there was a Joe-Pete Rugby pre-match Team Dinner at SPC. By that time the Joes were getting ready with the necessary letters to be signed by the SJC Rector to fire at SLC (CEO being an old Joe), SLSCA and Ministry of Education.

Many speeches were made at the dinner and SJC Rector illustrated on "it won't matter who wins the match on that day; important thing is the rich traditions of the two Institutes" etc. Similar sentiments were mentioned by the Rector of SPC as well.

Within the next few days said 'Objection Letters' reached the cricketing authorities of this country. There were several articles written on this issue that was published in many newspapers. THEY GOT IT ALL WRONG. Like I mentioned earlier, this was not the first time a sportsman who was born in some other country had represented a school in Sri Lanka. This is NOT the first time a Peterite School boy Cricketer had played Club Cricket in Australia. Lahiru Peiris, 2007 SPC Captain, played a season in Australia while in College. There was no issue at that time since Joes Sports were handled by true gentlemen. Come on Joes. Be mature.

Take the defeat.

If you need to thrash out things there are different forums. There is a WAY OF DOING THINGS. Going public is NOT the solution to an issue. There was the so called Joe-Pete Joint Organizing Committee where all rules and regulations were discussed prior to the matches, while making all arrangements for these two encounters (Big Match & 50 over). As a leading Catholic Institute SJC had many options to sort this out or to obtain clarifications from SPC authorities.

In the past there were similar or greater issues that cropped-up between these two great Catholic Colleges. It was settled amicably. (e.g: After the 38th encounter in 1972, SPC was routed by innings. In 1973 encounter just before the big match, present day Joe-Pete commentator Edgar Thevarayan was over age by one day prior to the match. SPC authorities referred it to then SJC Rector late Rev.Fr. Mervyn Weerakkody who gave the 'okay' and this Peterite opener went on to score 119 out of 200 runs scored by SPC in their first Innings, and ultimately SPC won that encounter by 6 wickets. There was no one in the Joes camp to find out why Rector of SJC gave the 'OK' or from which School Edgar came etc. In fact Edgar crossed over to SPC from SBC for academic purposes.

In the said Newspaper articles, Joes had tried to justify player poaching and on the contrary talked about mercenaries and denying the opportunity of genuine students from Junior sides. It is better if they go in front of a mirror and ask who is poaching and who is denying players from junior sides representing senior sides, just to win tournaments and matches. They will get the answer for themselves.

If things go on like this Joes may have to change their present Motto to read as 'BY HOOK OR BY CROOK'

Let god save Joes.

A. Perera

Mt. Lavinia

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