Accountability – an alien word to Sri Lanka Cricket


by Rex Clementine

Mismanagement and waste are daily occurrences at Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC). The latest drawback to the cash strapped sports body is the out of court settlement it has reached with sacked coach Geoff Marsh. The Ashes winning former coach had sued SLC for a sum of 250,000 US$ and the board has opted for an out of court settlement that has cost them 100,000 US$, The Island learns.

For an institution that is struggling to settle the outstanding dues it owes two state institutions running into billions of rupees, the latest setback will be felt badly. But who cares? The men who keep bungling at SLC continue regardless despite their incompetence to hold such esteemed positions.

Lead up to the ICC Cricket World Cup that Sri Lanka co-hosted, SLC bigwings were spending like drunken sailors on shore leave. The warning that a financial crisis is looming large was treated with scant respect and today not only is the SLC bankrupt, but that burden is about to be passed onto the public as well. If SLC’s debts it owes the two state institutions are written off, the burden of 3.2 billion rupees effectively will be on the public.

Geoff Marsh did no wrong. A coach who had won The Ashes and the World Cup with Australia would have turned Sri Lanka into a match winning outfit had he been given a proper run. Sadly he was unceremoniously sacked after just two tours.

Marsh’s mantra for success was ‘hard work’ and you could see him put in hours and hours of work with the team in a bid to achieve perfection. Marsh is known for his quotable quotes. Here is one he came up with during the tour of South Africa in 2011. "You can’t improve one particular thing by 100% in a couple of weeks. But what you can do is to improve hundred different things by 1%. That can make a hell of a difference between winning and losing," he said in the lead up to the historic Durban Test.

Sadly, Sri Lanka’s cricketers weren’t fortunate to learn more from a man who is held in high esteem and whose performance compares with that of great coaches of the caliber of John Buchanan and the late Bob Woolmer.

Due to Marsh’s sacking SLC not only suffered financial losses, the board’s reputation too took a severe beating.

Many wonder why some of the top international coaches didn’t apply for the advertised post of the national coach to be vacated by Graham Ford in February. Simply, they do not want their reputation to be tarnished by working with an unprofessional institution.

Marsh had strong grounds to argue because he had overseen Sri Lanka’s best tour of South Africa in their history where the national cricket team won their first ever Test Match in South African soil. Sri Lanka’s previous three Test tours to that country were disastrous ones.

SLC will pay out Marsh. But will those officials who took the decision to discontinue his services abruptly, taken to task? We doubt very much. These officials who cannot win a club election without manipulation will continue to represent the country at international fora and Sri Lankan cricket will continue to suffer. Greats retire hurt, jokers go places.

SLC’s waste has no limits. Former ICC boss Haroon Lorgat was hired as a consultant by a spendthrift SLC boss last year. Lorgat was paid 100,000 US$ and the whole package is supposed to have cost the board 180,000 US$. But has the Lorgat recommendations been implemented? The same SLC chief was refusing to play ‘A’ team cricket and he pointed out that the board had no money to spend on such development projects, but how he managed to find the money to bring Lorgat down remains a mystery. They say, a fool and his money are soon parted.

Financial bankruptcy is not the only danger facing Sri Lanka Cricket. Some of our cricket administrators suffer from an allergy towards Test cricket. In 12 months they put off as many as ten Test Matches, including high profile home series against India and South Africa. As a result, today Sri Lanka is ranked number seven in the world – just above New Zealand, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe.

Mysterious are the ways of those who run Sri Lanka Cricket.

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