Island Cricket

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A reminder to SLC | The Nation

The Nation: It is over a month since Nisal Senaratne passed away following a brief illness. In the field of cricket Senaratne was a stalwart in his own way having played the game at school and representative level and more so having served the game for over a decade.

Senaratne as we all know held the post of secretary of the then Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) for as many as six years in two-year spells on three occasions. He was also a vice-president of BCCSL and manager on many tours including the 1987 World Cup and the 1981 tour of England when Sri Lanka were granted full membership of the International Cricket Council (ICC) and served the Cricket Board in various other capacities too numerous to mention from the time of Robert Senanayake in the late sixties till Gamini Dissanayake in the late eighties.

It is indeed sad to note that people such as Senaratne who had served the game for long years have simply gone unnoticed. Others who have served in this category for long years include, apart from Senanayake and Dissanayake, – Neil Perera, Abu Fuard, Nuski Mohamed, S. Skandakumar, Ranjith Fernando, WAN Silva, Anuruddha Polonowita, Leo Wijesinghe, Anura Tennekoon, M. Rajasingham and SS (Chandra) Perera.

All these individuals have served Sri Lanka Cricket (as it is now named) for a period of well over a decade in HONORARY capacities holding high office in various positions. They have carried the Cricket Board virtually on their shoulders at a time when the controlling body did not have the luxury of funds that it has today.

With the passing away not very long ago of Tryphon Mirando who served as secretary under the Dharmadasas there were huge newspaper advertisements placed by Sri Lanka Cricket. SLC to be frank played a big role in his funeral and other arrangements also participating in the funeral procession. This gesture is laudable in not forgetting the service rendered to the game by such individuals. We do not mean any disrespect to the late Mirando who was a very fine gentleman.

However, one wonders whether it is double standards or total ignorance by Sri Lanka Cricket when it comes to giving due recognition to people who have served for much longer periods and sacrificed part of their lives for the game. The fact that Sri Lanka Cricket completely ignored the demise of a veteran such as Senaratne even by way of an acknowledgement is unpardonable.

We hope that in future this will not be repeated and that Sri Lanka Cricket will give due recognition to those who have done yeoman service to the game and that they are at least acknowledged even in death. Not only past players and captains but also managers, coaches and officials, all should be respected and treated alike because they all contribute towards the upliftment of the game. Without their efforts Sri Lanka cricket wouldn’t be where it is today. As much as players contribute on the field there are also others who contribute equally off it. That much Sri Lanka Cricket should take very special note of.

Raising junior cricket standards
We have another ICC junior cricket World Cup around the corner and all eyes will be focused on these young cricketers in Malaysia for a fortnight from February 17, to see who the emerging stars will be. This sort of tournament, although not having the same draw card as some of the major ones, is important in the ICC calendar because it brings into focus the latent talent among the juniors and pushes them into the spotlight of a worldwide audience.

Winning the tournament is great but the most crucial factor in the junior World Cup is how many future cricketers one’s country can produce. In this aspect it is sad to note that Sri Lanka has fallen far behind. Their standard of school cricket is not what it was maybe a decade or so ago.

No one has actually put a finger on what has gone wrong with our school cricket standards and come up with a remedy to rectify it. World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga coming into the scene as chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket interim committee has given some hope of a revival. One of his top priorities in taking over the reins of Sri Lanka Cricket is to ensure that school cricket standards are raised to the point where it was at one time. When Ranatunga made his Test debut for Sri Lanka 26 years ago, he was still a schoolboy at Ananda College. After him several other cricketers have walked into the national side straight from school. But sadly it is no longer the case today. What the former captain needs is some guidance on the lines of how it needs to be tackled. He has only to look around him for there are enough and more past cricket officials and players who would gladly lend him a helping hand. After all school cricket is our nursery towards nurturing top quality players for the future. If there is something wrong there it needs to be rectified immediately or the results could be rather detrimental to the future of Sri Lanka cricket.

By Sa'adi Thawfeeq


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