SRI LANKA’S NATIONAL CRICKET INEPT PLANNING CAUSE OF CURRENT MORASS – MAHINDA WIJESINGHE
WITH RAVI LADDUWAHETTY
Pioneer architect of International Cricket's Third Umpire concept and Sri Lanka born cricket writer and philosopher Mahinda Wijesinghe believes that unprofessional forward planning is the primary reason for the current morass and impasse in
Sri Lanka Cricket.
"Sri Lanka Cricket has seen very little progress in the last 10 years. In the last six years, Sri Lanka has seen the turnover of no less than 10 head coaches. We have been placed seventh in Test Cricket and eighth in One Day Internationals and T 20 Cricket, which shows the dismal state of affairs of the country's cricket," Wijesinghe told Ceylon Today during an interview at his Battaramulla residence.
"Unconfirmed reports attribute the dismal performance of the national cricket team to the administration personally interfering in the selection of the teams and other related matters," he said.
For instance, in the recently concluded Champions Trophy tourney in England, there was an instance where former skipper Angelo Mathews has said that he was available to play in the first game. But reportedly despite a selector being in England, directions had been given from Colombo for Mathews to be kept out of the game. It is indeed shocking that Sri Lanka Cricket has come to this level despite unparalleled achievements of the national cricket team in the first 25 years of being elected a Full Member of the ICC with Trophies and Shields and other accolades in such a short time.
This is also after having won the World Cup title in 1996 despite being a mere 15 years at the high table in the ICC, having been admitted to full membership in 1981.
Sri Lanka having won the World Cup in 1996 were runners-up in 2007 and 2011, clinched the ICC Champions Trophy in 2002, T 20 World Cup in 2014 and Runners-up in 2009 and 2012. At one stage, Sri Lanka held four International Test batting partnership records which have now been reduced to two. That is for the highest partnership in Test Cricket (624 runs with Mahela Jayawardene 374 and Kumara Sangakkara 287 at the SSC in 2006) and also the second highest of 576 runs which was notched by Sanath Jayasuriya (340) and Roshan Mahanama (225), which also resulted in the highest total in Test cricket of 952/8 at the Ranasinghe Premadasa Stadium.
Can the magic figure of 800 Test wickets by Muttiah Muralidaran be forgotten? With all these hallmarks and benchmarks why has Sri Lanka not progressed?
Some of the hallmarks of Sri Lanka Cricket now appear to be diluted due to the unprofessional planning which has prevailed in recent times. For instance, the administrators did not take steps to develop a right arm off spinner to take over from Muralidaran when the time comes. It is the same case with Rangana Herath.
One of the biggest drawbacks is the politicization and the populism at Sri Lanka Cricket. For instance, when Sri Lanka won the single Test by a mere whisker against Zimbabwe, they were the 10th ranked side in Test Cricket in the world!
There has been no grooming of spinners. Fast bowlers are consistently getting injured. Spinners have to be able to spin the ball and the only spinner who can do so at the moment is Lakshan Sandakan. There is Dilruwan Perera who seems a better batsman than a spinner. Rangana Herath is a very intelligent left-arm bowler, but if he spun the ball more Sri Lanka may have won more games. Previously there have been those who spun the ball such as left-arm spinner Ajith de Silva who was the Best bowler in the Schools from Ananda and a member of the inaugural Test against Keith Fletcher's England at the P. Saravanamuttu Stadium from February 18-22, 1982. There was also Daya Sahabandu another left-arm spinner as well.
We could have the Chairman of the Asian Cricket Council in Sri Lanka and all the big names, but there is no point having all that if there is no proper planning. For instance, when we were playing Zimbabwe, all the top SLC Officials and Ex-Co members were in their regalia and sartorial splendour when Sri Lanka was within a trifle away from the 388-run target. But where were they when Sri Lanka was reeling at 203/ 5? Nowhere? Why are these officials playing to the gallery?
Sri Lanka pathetically could not get the better of Bangladesh in all three formats of the game. This was followed by a 2-3 loss to Zimbabwe. So, if Sri Lanka was struggling against the 10th ranked side in the world, our current performances against India, the number one ranked side, is no surprise.
Mahinda Wijesinghe is a cricket philosopher who even got the Marylebone Cricket Club to change the laws of the game having detected an arithmetical error! A feat none has been credited within the 250+ year laws of cricket.
Mahinda Wijesinghe has been paid the highest accolades throughout the cricketing globe. "The Father of Cricket" Sir Donald George Bradman has personally autographed in his autobiography titled: "Farewell to Cricket."
There was also the Chairman of the Cardiff-based Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians David Miller who sagely wrote of him in an appreciation titled Remarkable Man. Miller said: "Mahinda Wijesinghe is a remarkable man. He led the way in proposing a link between on-field umpires and television cameras. Then, when MCC's laws included an incorrect conversion from imperial to metric in the weight of a junior cricket ball with profound complications to the ball manufacturers, it was Mahinda's persistence which helped bring about a correction. It was he who challenged the game's law makers to ban the use of wicket keeping gauntlets with webbing that had started to give an unfair advantage. It was again Mahinda who was behind the development of a devise to encase the arm of Muttiah Muralidaran, a devise which helped to demonstrate that Murali's arm does not straighten in the delivery action.
A remarkable man indeed!
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