Michael Roberts, courtesy of islandcricket.lk…..http://www.islandcricket.lk/columns/michael_roberts/472150217/wt20-too-many-heads-and-too-many-guillotines
In all manner of sports both fans and controlling bodies behind the scene are far too prone to lop off the coach when a team fares badly. This occurs often – in soccer, cricket, rugger et cetera in all parts of the world. Such consistency in the guillotine act demands reflection. Are these fans and controlling geniuses being too fervent – fervent to the point of misguidance? At least in some instances it would seem that a team fares badly because other teams have outshone them.
The lesson for me here is that fan-fervour is, more often than not, as fanatic as frenetic. The result is mistreatment of some good guys (gender neutral here). With the Sri Lankan cricket world, moreover, this frenetic fanaticism of ardent enthusiasts in high places has gone a step further and generated another first. It is not the cricket team that has been changed, but the whole cricketing Selection Committee. Kapila Wijegunawardene, Brendon Kuruppu, Hemantha Wickremanayake and Amal Silva,. “The appointment of the National Selection Committee was carried out by the Honorable Minister citing recent failures encountered by the national team in their tours to New Zealand, India, Asia Cup in Bangladesh and the inconsistency of selection criteria,” said the statement which implemented the act of dismissal.
Kapila Wijegunawardene — pic from newsfirst.lk
Note that Kapila Wijegunawardene et al were only appointed in April 2015, replacing a committee headed by Sanath Jayasuriya, some 8/9 months ago by Navin Dissanayake. But Sports Ministers also come and go. Dayasiri Jayasekera replaced Dissanayake a few months ago. So it is musical chairs every which way.
Jayasekera seems amenable to SLC president Sumathipala and the latter has linked up with Aravinda de Silva as close advisor. The three had the monies (presumably from the SLC budget) and clout to attend the Asia Cup in Bangladesh where they had kusu-kusu talks with a senior player and excluded Lasith Malinga (captain) from this discussion. Either this action alone or further persuasion has led Malinga to tender his resignation from the captaincy.
Yet more. The subsequent outcome has been the sacking of the Wijegunawardena Committee, the replacement of Chandimal (the latter’s captaincy choice) and the replacement of Dickwella and Vandersay with Thirimanne and Lakmal. While there are good logical grounds for these three changes, the manner of their implementation stinks. The stink is all the more overpowering because Malinga himself has told the world that he is not fit after aggravating his bone-injury during the first Asia Cup match and should not be retained in the squad (Thawfeeq 2016).
“Only in Sri Lanka!” This phrase is usually an opening line for some tourism pitch and self-flattery. Well, here in the realms of cricket “Only in Sri Lanka” now stands for a cricketing meal of achchaaru, mallun, parippu and cow dung in one fetid pool. We can only hope that these ‘emissions’ are not sprayed on the cricket pitches which confront our team in India.
Kapila Wijegunawardene, Amal Silva, Brendon Kuruppu and Hemantha Wickremanayake were (are) a good team. I have only met two, Brendon and Hemantha, briefly and that once only. They may not be aware of this, but I rate their thinking highly. This does not mean that their choice of squads did not have some question marks around them, but that is an issue open for discussion in the context of the several travails that have hit the Sri Lankan team over the last 15 months.
Nor is such questioning/criticism an excuse for the horrendous manner in which they have been treated by the Sports Ministry and Sumathipala and Aravinda acting in concert. Where linked to POWER, patriotic fervour and emergency situations bring out the worst in men (no women involved here).
Wijegunawardene and others were rendering a national service. They have been treated like dirt. That blemish lies squarely in three hands … and alas, may be diffused to the four new men who have been recruited to choose our teams, viz., Romesh Kaluwitharana, Lalith Kaluperuma, Ranjith Madurasinghe and Kumar Sangakkara (latter short-term).
Ceylon Daily News: “Kapila speaks out,” 9 March 2016, http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=2016/03/09/sports/kapila-speaks-out
Champika Fernando: “Malinga attacks new Selection Committtee,” 16 March 2016, http://www.dailymirror.lk/106872/Malinga-attacks-new-selection-committee
Nirgunan Tiruchelvam: “About Chief Selector Kapila Wijegunawardene, the Paceman who bowled Viv Richards,” April 22, 2015, https://cricketique.live/2015/04/22/about-chief-selector-kapila-wijegunawardene-the-paceman-who-bowled-viv-richards/
Rex Clementine: “Why is everyone from Tennekoon to Sangakkara backing Thirimanne?” 12 March 2016, http://www.island.lk/index.php?page_cat=article-details&page=article-details&code_title=141949
Sa’adi Thawfeeq: “Unfit Malinga spills the beans on his selection,” 16 March 2016, http://www.dailynews.lk/?q=2016/03/15/sports/unfit-malinga-spills-beans-his-selection