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Let’s find solutions to problems, not scapegoats


by Rex Clementine

The Asia Cup final last Sunday was a bitter pill to swallow. While 35,000 adoring fans turned up at RPS paying through the nose to witness a good game of cricket, most streets in the country were deserted as millions of ardent fans watched the proceedings on television with keenness hoping for Sri Lanka to defend their title. Alas, it was all over in two hours. Sri Lanka had been shot out for their lowest total at home – 50.

The final was an anti-climax no doubt. Rather than discussing conspiracy theories and offering the game to India on a platter, let us address the real issues facing our cricket. Every time we play India in recent years, they expose the vast gap between the teams. They have moved far ahead while we keep blaming the usual suspects.

On every occasion where we lose a big final or by a massive margin we find scapegoats. It used to be all Kumar Sangakkara’s fault at one point. Then we moved onto Angelo Mathews. The blame was placed in the doorstep of Chandika Hathurusinghe more recently. This time around we found a scapegoat in Dasun Shanaka.

It is incredible that the selectors thought that the captain needed to go with just over one week left for the team’s departure to India for the sport’s showpiece event.

That is exactly what they have been doing during their tenure of over two years – finding scapegoats. Some of our heaviest defeats in the sport both in red and white ball formats have come under the current set of selectors. Instead of finding solutions and addressing the real issues, the selectors have found whipping boys and passed on the blame.

Chairman of Selectors Pramodya Wickramasinghe made a hue and cry about players’ fitness and then got rid of half a dozen seniors from the white ball formats. He then made players ineligible for selection if they failed fitness tests. You wonder what has happened to those rigid fitness routines now? Dare we say the team that he picks for the World Cup will at least have two or three players who do not meet minimum fitness standards.

India’s success is not just due to the IPL. There are various other aspects like some terrific athletes like Virat Kohli coming through and pushing all sorts of limits. Although fitness standards have been lowered since Rohit Sharma took over as captain, India have overall high standards in fitness. India’s strength always has been their spin but nowadays they have backed their quicks and if you wonder how come someone like Mohammed Shami can not find a place in the side, Mohmmed Siraj answered those questions in the finals.

There is so much at stake in Indian cricket and you don’t find players overstepping the line whereas we have multiple discipline issues ranging from drunk driving, brawls at casinos and even players being arrested on overseas soil.

Much needs to be done to put our cricket in order and threatening to sack Dasun Shanka alone will not solve our problems.

The same set of selectors were responsible for appointing Dasun as ODI captain knowing all too well that he didn’t own a place in the ODI team. During the contract crisis with Kusal Janith Perera on warpath with the establishment, the selectors wanted a compromise candidate and Dasun Shanaka fitted that bill. KJP was given the cold shoulder. Bloodless cricketing coups aren’t a new thing in our country and from Bandula Warnapura onwards many captains have suffered the same fate.

The selectors had so many chances to get rid of Dasun if they wanted but they were playing political games. Obviously, they didn’t want to go back to Angelo Mathews, the rightful heir to the throne. Wanindu Hasaranga is of course too independent and will be tough to control while the selectors have had differences with Dhananjaya de Silva.

Having waited this long, when the nation is angry following the Asia Cup final debacle, the selectors thought that Dasun is their fall guy for they needed someone.

Thankfully sanity prevailed. With the World Cup just around the corner, this is not the right time to change your captain and you’ve got to wait till the World Cup is over.

As for Dasun, there’s so much he can work on to ensure that he doesn’t become a mere passenger in India. He can start with tightening his defence. However, he seems to be too busy doing PR acts apologizing to fans for the losses.

Whatever said and done, under Dasun’s leadership Sri Lanka have reached back-to-back Asia Cup finals. On both occasions Star Sports and the organizers were hoping for an India-Pakistan clash but Dasun has spoilt those plans. Having done that now it is time to make some contributions with the bat and get noticed or face the axe after the World Cup.

If Dasun doesn’t perform with the bat in India, the selectors should ask him to step down. While doing so they themselves can tender their resignations for their flawed policies is a reason why the game is not moving forward.

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