Sri Lanka cricket seems to be heading towards a crisis. The crisis is emerging out of the darker elements of the cricket polity. It is due to a clash of values that bedevils, I believe, all or most of sports today.
We may have at one time thought that our own cricketers were a set apart, where they realised where their priorities lay, and come what may, they would stand by the higher values where disparate values clashed.
We know differently for some time now. Sri Lanka Cricket must henceforth learn to live with that dark impediment in mind.
What are the values in question? If we were to treat values as measurable so far as our cricketers are concerned, we could post two indices or indexes. One, the ‘Patriotic Index’, and two, the ‘Money Index’. (I am almost tempted to call this latter the ‘Filthy Lucre Index’). A word on these indices, as they apply to our sportsmen, specially our cricketers.
There was a time when the Everest of ambitions of our cricketers was to be selected to play for Sri Lanka. To wear the National Cap, the Sri Lanka Cap, even once or twice was surely the peak of accomplishment. Every cricketer interviewed in post-match briefings gave out that they were not bothered by, or influenced by personal gains, or goals, but played solely for the team, and beyond that, they always claimed, and even now claim ‘Rata Wenuwata’ or ‘Rata Gena Hitha’ objectives as the basis of performance and participation. On the ‘Patriotic Value’ objectives as the basis of performance and participation.
On the ‘Patriotic Value’ index, they scored high. And they also claimed at these interviews, that they would continue in that mode.
We thought so too, and so believed till we noticed certain elements introduced into the ‘PV Index’. Some players, who deserved being dropped continued to be selected. Favouritism? Money? Some players (even some of our cricket icons), usurped the role of the selectors and appealed over their heads to political authorities for reinstatement when they were dropped. And so on. The reasons soon became apparent. The other index had emerged in opposition to the ‘Rata Wenuwata’ or ‘PV Index’. This was the ‘Money Index’.
Today, the clash of these two values have come to a head. We know that when our cricketers talk of their ‘Rata Wenuwata’ ideals, it is all plain hypocrisy. Those who have made a name having been given the chance by SLC, now opt for the ‘MV Index’ (the 3rd rate IPL, where filthy lucre is king), kicking the National interest to hell. A simple clash of values. Money rather than one’s country which gave them the chance to be now be where they are. Their market value was based on National selection only.
Here’s the huge contrast. The IPL cricketers kick their country, as they do not want to miss their millions. Our servicemen fight for the country for how much in contrast, and risk their lives, so that we and those cricketers are safe and so that these players can make their millions. And for what? Because they can hit a ball around or strike three pieces of wood! In contrast, what do our troops get?
And so Mahela Jayawardane and Co., you will need to decide whether in the final analysis, you will enlist for your millions, or for your country. Remember, it is the country that enabled you to have a market to make millions. Remember, you all have already made a good pile, which I believe should suffice to give you all a comfortable life in the future. You still will have opportunities to make more piles when IPL matches and National matches do not clash. Remember also that most of you have regular, well paying jobs, in addition. Also, that in playing for your country, you also get well paid, and unlike earlier days, you bargain for your pay now, whereas earlier, players played because they took pride in playing for the country without any pay.
Finally, some or you have been appointed ‘Brand Ambassadors’ and have accepted the honour and the fame. That too was due not to IPL marketability, but due to your National cricketing status.
So Mahela & Co, the country’s plea is that you strive to get up on the ‘Patriotic Index’ rather than on the ‘Money Index’. National tournaments/tours are always of more vital import than any ‘Pol Adi’ gimmicks (albeit money leaded), like the IPL. If you do choose the IPL and jettison National interests, (SLC) remember, don’t let us hear you people hereafter saying at post or pre-match interviews that you play for the country without regard to personal interests.
If you do say so, it would be hypocrisy and a joke!