Cricketers’ Attitude
Posted on November 20th, 2023

Chanaka Bandarage, International Lawyer

There is much debate in the country about our cricket.

There is no doubt that the Cricket Board and the Selection Committee should bear major responsibility for the debacle.

But, what about the recent and current Cricketers? The writer states they too must bear responsibility.

It is the players who play on the field, not the officials.

The players have shown a very bad attitude in representing the country.

They may be talented cricketers, but their lack of discipline has brought forth not only their own downfall but also of the country.

Our players do not realise the importance of team play. They do not think they are playing for the country. For many, they play for themselves.

For them, it is their own performance that matters. That is one reason why the country has suffered so badly (the selfish attitude of some, especially key players).

It is in such instances that the Cricket Board must intervene. But, it has not done so. Rather than reprimanding bad cricketers, they went on their own jaunts.

We have a number of expensive foreign coaches; do they teach our players good traits? Unlikely.

Why employ foreign coaches at such extraordinarily high cost? We have lots of our own excellent local coaches. Mahela Jayewardene, Duleep Mendis, Hashan Thilakarathne, Sanath Jayasuriya come to mind. There may be excellent hidden coaches at club and school levels.  

Employing few foreigners as Specialists in areas such as PT, physiotherapy, batting/bowling/fielding is ok. The importance is that we must have our own head coach. They have patriotism that the foreign coaches lack.

Patriotism is important to bring-in victory for the mother country.

In Australia and New Zealand if one does not show team work and tries to play selfishly, they will receive  the immediate sack.

We should not be surprised about this as our entire nation is like this – utterly selfish.

In effect, the cricket team reflects the society that we live in.

This has not been the case before. Say prior to 1977, Sri Lanka has been a pious society.

We have politicians who have done deals even with the LTTE.

In 2022 we became a failed state; officially we became Bankrupt. There were long queues for petrol, diesel and kerosene. They are now gone. Not a single  vehicle has been imported to this country for over 3+ years. Our best talent is leaving the country in droves. Never have we seen a brain drain of this magnitude. Families are struggling to keep the home fires burning.

In the olden age children were taught about patriotism at school. This is not happening now.

Some patriotic songs like ‘මේ සිංහල අපගේ රටයි’, ‘පිට දීප දේශ ජයගත්තා’ are banned in the SLBC and රූපවාහිනී? The situation in local FM radios/private TV channels is worse. Rather than preserving our traditional values, good ethics most of them promote (intentionally or un-intentionally) Thamilnadu and Western cultures.

In the developed countries, school children are taught patriotism daily like a Mantra (directly/indirectly). It is a very important aspect of their school curricula.

ANZAC Day is an Australian National Holiday.  It is an occasion to commemorate the thousands of Australian soldiers who died in WW1. Many people, especially children, actively take part in events held throughout the country on that day.

Even the Captains of our test cricket and T20 teams have demonstrated alleged bad behavior. They have been accused of drunk driving, even a hit and run accident.

National players should be role models for the younger generation. Unfortunately, our players of late have not been so.

Even when overseas, players have behaved badly. When the team was in England, some leading players were accused of breaching the team’s Corona Virus rules. While on tour a cricketer faced criminal charges for sexual misconduct (he was later acquitted). The fact that he may have focused on online dating than playing cricket does not go to his good credit. One player was caught playing video games when the World Cup was on.

Glen Maxwell recently played a magnificent innings. This shows how players play for their country. It was his sheer determination/patriotism that brought victory for Australia against Afghanistan.

Why cannot our players learn from the likes of Maxwell, Travis Head, Kholi, Warner, De Kock, Azmatullah, Zampa and Coetzee?

We too used to have players of that calibre, unfortunately, not now. Sanath Jayasuriya, Thilkarathne Dilshan, Aravinda De Silva, Arjuna Ranathunga, Hashan Thilakarathne, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath, Mahela Jayewardene come to mind. They gave 100% for the country.

Madhushanka is a great player.

We definitely have some good players in our team with talent. But some are useless.  There are some players that should not be in our national team, they should have been sacked long time ago.

There are players that are bad in both playing and discipline. Some are simply un-talented. There may be schoolboy cricketers that are better than some of the current players.

Some players are in the team solely due to their strong connection with the cricket board officials and selection committee members. Some time ago it was reported that some players had paid a portion of their match fee to a certain selection committee member, to remain in the team.

It is well known that those who practice the Born-Again religion have a good chance of playing for the national team, be they good or bad. This may be the secret why so many Born Again players  have been in the team. The COPE committee must have the guts to investigate this.

Due to favouritsm some senior players think they can stay in the team ‘forever’. They know they have the constant backing of the Cricket Board officials.

A higher order batsman who also has bad discipline  is well known for scoring zeros repeatedly. But, because he occasionally scores a 50 or a 100 (that is also mostly against weak teams), he continues to keep his place in the team.

It is a crafty thing by recent captains to become the team’s wicket keeper. They know that even if they fail in bat their place is secured. They know only  a very few in the team that can do wicket keeping.

Some players like Dinesh Chandimal, Kusal Janith Perera have been very badly treated with. The former is our ‘Ricky Ponting’. If he played for Australia or New Zealand he would still be playing for them. Why was he removed from the National World Cup team, the selection committee must provide answers to the nation.

The moment that Kusal Janith Perera fails to score he gets dropped. He does not get the benefit that the Board gives to their favourite players.

At least now, Dinesh Chandimal should be brought back to both teams – the test and T 20, preferably as the Captain.

Recently a veteran cricketer took too much time to commence his innings on the pitch. When the opposing team appealed, he was adjudged out.

It was clearly his fault.

But he started playing antics on the field.

Rather than obeying the umpire’s verdict, he argued with the umpires. He even spoke to the opposing team’s Captain that appealed for his dismissal! This is something unheard of in cricket.

The player’s behavior was  totally un-gentlemanly in the gentlemen’s game.

The other team had every right to appeal for his dismissal.  What they did was in accordance with the rules book.

After the match (which Sri Lank lost) this player vigorously attacked the entire opposition team using international media.  What right did he have? He was just a player.

The manner he spoke could have caused a serious diplomatic row between the two very friendly countries.

Some players are arrogant because they know they have the blessing of the Cricket Board, no matter what gimmick they have been up to.

In countries like England, Australia and New Zealand players are picked solely on merit. That is why they do comparatively well than other countries (true England performed miserably this time, this is due to their lack of cricketing talent. In England, young men prefer to play Soccer than Cricket).

In Australia it is only the Captain that makes on-field decisions. He changes bowlers and sets the field.  But in our team? There are about 4 or 5 senior players doing the Captain’s work.  The saying – too many cooks spoil the soup.

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