Island Cricket

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

One more volley from Atapattu

Cricket Australia: Former Sri Lanka captain Marvan Atapattu has been unveiled as a Delhi Jets player for the inaugural Indian Cricket League (ICL) season - but could not resist one last parting shot at his country's selectors.The 37-year-old claims cricket in Sri Lanka is 'doomed to failure' if there is not urgent reform in the game.

Atapattu had been on a two-year hiatus from the national team until the Sri Lankan sports minister brokered his return on the recent Australia tour. The outspoken batsman then promptly called time on his international career midway through the final day of the second Test and has since criticised those who run the game on the island, labelling them 'muppets headed by a joker'."

Sri Lankan cricket is full of talent but the selectors have gone about their job in an improper way," Atapattu told the Asian Age on Monday.

"The second string looks spineless, there is no grooming of youngsters, and if the matter is not dealt with by the cricket board then our cricket is doomed to failure."

"Having played for so long, I always wished that a youngster would be ready to take my place. But that is not happening at all.""I have no proof but it seems that Sri Lanka Cricket is riddled with politics."

Atapattu signed off for Sri Lanka with an excellent knock of 80 in that final Test against Australia to finish with 5502 runs at an average of 39.02 in 90 Tests, including six double-centuries.Despite only returning for two Test matches, Atapattu admitted he felt the time was right for him to retire.

"I did what I could have for cricket and I was not sad at all as some newspapers suggested," he said."I was not sad at the end of my career, but for Sri Lankan cricket which seems headed for the dumps. I did what I thought best and I was not concerned about myself."

"After the sports minister intervened for my selection I realised that the Australian tour might be the last time I would don the national colours.""At 37 and with injuries taking their toll what else was I supposed to do?"

The right-hander has now signed up for the inaugural ICL and is looking forward to being part of the Twenty20 tournament which begins on Friday."I have not played much Twenty20 and I want to have a taste of it," he said."The ICL has provided me with the opportunity and here I am - I don't think it should be blocked in any way."

"In fact, we need more such initiatives to groom talent and it should be treated as a career chosen by a cricketer.""The Indian Premier League has dragged in all the current players but ICL also has fresh talent on display. That is where the difference lies."

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