Questioning Thisara’s integrity


Thisara Perera

by Rex Clementine

A senior cricket writer who was a die-hard fan of former South Africa captain Hansie Cronje and defended him staunchly during the early stages of match fixing allegations until Cronje’s own admission once warned us. He wanted us to be cautious in defending another person’s integrity. ‘Every man has his price!’ he said.

The journalist said so due to the bitter experience he had. There are still sportsmen whose integrity is beyond reproach.

Having seen all-rounder Thisara Perera over the last three years at the big stage and having heard numerous stories about him, no one should bother about him fixing cricket matches. Last week Deccan Herald, a Hyderabad based Indian newspaper alleged Perera had agreed to lose an IPL game with several of his other teammates during the last IPL. A closer look at the scorecard of the game in question told us a different story. Perera’s IPL franchise in fact had won the game and Perera had done remarkably well with the ball in that game.

A couple of days later, much to the relief of Sri Lankan fans, Sri Lanka Cricket said that Board of Control for Cricket in India had said that the allegations against Perera were baseless.

Perera is a passionate cricketer. A lot of people may not have realized, but he has the potential to become one of the all-time greats in the sport. His big hitting as was showcased against Robin Petersen at Pallekele when the Proteas were here a couple of months ago was highly impressive. His bowling is ever improving.

He was dropped for the tri-nation tournament in the Caribbean early this year after the Champions Trophy in England. More than due to lack of performance, he was dropped to be given a strong message. The message was that the selectors felt that he could contribute more than what he was doing. Since being left out, Perera has been a different player altogether.

Perera is a son of a science teacher and he is very much a family man. He married soon after his school days. Once when he was picked for a tour of New Zealand to represent Sri Lanka Development Squad, he refused to go on tour as he didn’t want to miss the company of his girlfriend. Since joining the national team, Perera’s wife has accompanied him wherever he played cricket.

Perera is not the first Sri Lankan cricketer to be the subject of baseless allegations. From Sanath Jayasuriya to Aravinda de Silva, most Sri Lankan players who have had some impact have been subject to speculations questioning their integrity. More recently Tillekeratne Dilshan has come under attacks of allegations of match fixing. But at the end of the day, they have all emerged unscratched.

Unfortunately though the damage through such baseless allegations has been already done. Perera finds his integrity questioned and it would have definitely been uneasy on him for a couple of days. SLC was right to put out a statement defending the player immediately.

Perera’s all-round ability, particularly his big hitting which is ideally suited for T-20 cricket makes him one of the popular choices for various emerging T-20 leagues. SLC needs to protect Thisara from being overused.

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