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Sri Lankan Cricket’s Day of Shame

 

Cricket owes much of its unique appeal to the spirit of the game. On Monday, at the Rangiri Dambulla International Cricket Stadium, when India outplayed Sri Lanka well and truly, Suraj Randiv resorted to something unthinkable and unspeakable and his action is sure to incur the opprobrium of cricket lovers the world over and tarnish the image of Sri Lanka as a cricket playing nation.

Sri Lankan Cricket’s Day of Shame
Cricket owes much of its unique appeal to the spirit of the game. On Monday, at the Rangiri Dambulla International Cricket Stadium, when India outplayed Sri Lanka well and truly, Suraj Randiv resorted to something unthinkable and unspeakable and his action is sure to incur the opprobrium of cricket lovers the world over and tarnish the image of Sri Lanka as a cricket playing nation.
 
Here’s what happened on Monday: Virender Sehwag was on 99 when the scores were levelled and in what could be described as a deliberate move, Randiv conceded a no‐ball to deny Sehwag a well deserved hundred.
 
Sri Lankans are known to be playing the game sporting a friendly smile. This is not to say that they have been soft on the field; Sri Lankan teams over the years have played really tough, but the fact remains that they have always taken victory and defeat with remarkable equanimity.
 
Is it that we have come to such a pass that the spirit of the game means nothing to some of our present‐day players and they are only worried about their bank balances?
 
Legendary Muttiah Muralitharan, who has done Sri Lanka proud, was a fierce competitor, but he always played the game with a smile—even when he was hit for towering sixes. He has retired and it looks as if we did not have more than a handful of cricketing ambassadors of his calibre left amongst us.
 
The problem is not with the player as such but the system, one may argue. Be that as it may, the blame for the shameful act on Monday in Dambulla, the blame must be laid squarely at the doorstep of Randiv.
 
However, let it be added in the same breath that when a sport is governed by a body that is rotten to the core, we cannot expect players to be different. Look at the way some appointments to the key positions in the Sri Lanka Cricket have been made. That institution is full of unsavoury characters that have used political connections to catapult themselves to high posts.
 
Standards of cricketers are dropping so drastically. It has been revealed that one senior Sri Lankan cricketer spent a night in jail in Zimbabwe for a very serious offence. According to Sri Lanka Cricket, however, the incident never happened!
 
What is more shocking is that a much respected fine player like Kumar Sangakkara held a brief for Randiv, when he addressed the post match media conference. “I have no doubt that it wasn’t intentional, maybe he was trying to bowl the doosra and get more bounce. Suraj is not that kind of guy,” Sangakkara said in defence of Randiv.
 
Maybe after seeing the video footage of that delivery, Sanga may get a clearer idea of the whole episode and change his position. It is only Sanga who can do something to remove the rot in the game.
 
Sehwag in terrific form, having ended the Test series as the Man of the Match with two hundreds and a 99 along with seven wickets, was quick to slam the Sri Lankans. His consternation is understandable. He can rest assured that every right thinking Sri Lankan is on his side.
 
Sehwag said: “It was deliberate. He should not have done it. It was not in true sportsman’s spirit. It’s not done when a batsman is on 99 that you bowl a no‐ball. That doesn’t figure as good cricket. In Tests, he hasn’t bowled a no‐ball; in one‐dayers he hasn’t bowled a no‐ball. How come he bowls a no‐ball when a batsman is on 99? And that too not a small no‐ball, a foot and a half outside.” We could not agree with you more, Sehwag!
 
The Indian vice‐captain was spot on, except his claim that Randiv hadn’t bowled a single no ball in international cricket. He has bowled no balls earlier, but the fact remains that what Randiv did on Monday was deliberate and has left a very bad taste in many a mouth.
 
The Sri Lankans were the recipients of ICC’s Spirit of Cricket award not too long ago. When they achieved that award, minute things like wearing the national cap for the first session of a Test Match when the team was on the field may have counted.
 
The tradition that was begun by Marvan Atapattu and persevered by Mahela Jayawardene was abandoned at the recent Test against India at P. Sara Stadium. Randiv was one of the two players who did not wear the national cap. When the press asked a senior player (Thilan Samaraweera) for a comment on abandoning the tradition, he quipped that what mattered was taking wickets and scoring runs and he didn’t give a tinker’s damn about respecting the national cap. That being the callous attitude of some of our senior cricketers, we needn’t be surprised at what is happening to the young players in particular and the game in general.
 
(Island)
Posted in: Sports
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