Someone's Watching
Huge doses of cricket: For whom and for what?

by Bino
Thushara Cooray, Sri Lanka cricket Board’s scorer whose credited with having kept statistics in 40 test matches and also gifted with a ready wit, asserted while at the last test match in Kandy that watching cricket these days is like looking at a retail shop (kadei).

This is a deep reading on present day’s cricket when one looks at the extent of commercialism that is mingled with the game.

There is too much of cricket and most of it is boring to the common cricket fan.

Are these matches played for the sake of commercial gains and not for anything else?.

A sport becomes a large social force once it represents a common objective of a society. In that sense, after Sri Lanka won the 1996 World Cup and after they defeated England in London two years later (in both versions of the game, in tests and in ODIs), local cricket came to a status where there is no other broader socio-political objective left to be achieved through cricket.

The eternal outstations revelry against the metropolis’ cricket ended successfully during the period of Arjuna Ranatunga’s captaincy. The ‘war’ against the ‘whites’ and the British colonial domain, the retaliation against the ‘Aussie’ egoism; these are all accomplished missions by now.

A cricket field is today sans any broad social objective. Then why are there so much of cricket during a year? Statistics reveal that the national cricketers have been engaged in three three-test series in a row against India, West Indies and then against Zimbabwe. For what and for whom?

When one looks from such a background at the cricket team selection row over the last week end, two interesting issues come to the surface. One is that the selection committee is up to make drastic changes, citing the fact that their vision is to groom young blood into the national side, how unpopular they may be. And on the other side, the national team’s management and its skipper act as a forceful unit whenever there is any decision coming against them from above. But the central point coming out of the whole issue is whether Sri Lanka should expose youngsters at the present hour or stick with the same combination as long as possible.

Given the standard of the touring Zimbabwean team this would have been the right time for the youngsters to compete at test level. But those who oppose this point argue that the best combination should play at any time giving no space for experiments. Some say that the out of form Russel Arnold was the one to be dropped instead of Marvan Atapattu.

But as how things evolved over the last few days it showed that the national players are eyeing for personal milestones rather than a goal common to all or for that mater working to a futuristic vision.

In an age where the national team has achieved almost all the major goals over the past years, and at last being a top team in the test arena, the vision now should be to sustain the acquired level in the years to come.

Here the greatest examples are coming from Australia and South Africa who consistently maintain a top performance level throughout decades.

Milestones and ranking charts are for the sponsors and are subsequent to consistent winning anywhere in the world. For that matter, as the sternest test are coming ahead with tours in England, South Africa and Australia, futuristic vision is the need for the day. At least to find a replacements to Murali, Jayasuriya or Mahela as the authorities in Australia and South Africa are doing.

Above all, that kind of a collective, broad-viewed vision will not distract its fans from the game and continue to provide them with some spirited performances beyond its present hackneyed commercial outlook.