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Senior member of the national cricket team Angelo Mathews is greeted by SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala when the Sri Lankan cricketers arrived at the Bandaranaike International Airport after completing their recent tour of New Zealand. (Picture courtesy SLC)

The remarks made by Sri Lanka’s interim coach Jerome Jayaratne to an appreciative gathering of media personnel at Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) on January 13 with regards to the islanders’ controversial tour of New Zealand suggested that those hired to serve this institute lacked commitment.

A statement such as, “I am not desperate for the job,” goes on to suggest that Jayaratne is not over enthusiastic about being in charge of the senior national cricketers. How would such a mindset in an individual affect the players who are under him? This writer presumes it would have had a negative impact.

When Jayaratne was asked what he had to say about mediamen targeting manager, coach and captain in a negative manner after a series loss, he said, “Is that so. Well I don’t read the media” It is time Jayaratne realized that media is a vital stakeholder of the game and makes valuable contributions by feeding cricket followers with valuable updates

Jayaratne has worked mostly with youth as ‘Head of Coaching’ and when he indicated his interest is in this group he showed he had not been media trained when handling aggressive mediamen. In the business of entertainment, some film makers and publishers target only children when putting out their products. It would have been wise if he had said his preference in coaching would be to hone the skills of juvenile cricketers rather than saying, ‘I am not desperate for the job’.

Sri Lanka’s tour of New Zealand was a failure and what was really annoying was to see the islander’s number one ranking in the T 20 version taking a beating, largely due to the 2-0 loss suffered against the host in this abbreviated form of cricket. A keen spectator can focus on a team during a match and safely say how organized the employer of these players is. The heavy losses overall in New Zealand suggested in no uncertain terms that the cricket establishment was in a precarious situation before the January 3 elections.
The cricket board is habitually under a cloud of gloom whenever it is governed by an interim administration. This is however a short term problem that crops up now and then in the Sri Lanka cricket scene. But Jayaratne made a revelation about a problem that has existed for years when he said he was alarmed at the gap between international cricket and Sri Lanka’s domestic cricket. Jayaratne said that the young players were not established and that domestic cricket at home wasn’t played in a professional environment.

Most of what was said by the manager Jerry Woutersz, Test Captain Angelo Mathews and coach Jayaratne at the press briefing suggested the problem had more to do with lack of professionalism in the approach to international cricket, rather than with the capabilities of individuals who handled the team. Mathew’s comment regarding alleged player indiscipline where he said, “Nothing significant happened,” was pounced on by a reporter who responded by saying, “When you say nothing significant happened you are suggested that something did happen”. Team representatives at the briefing struggled for answers when reporters hounded them regarding alleged player indiscipline and squabbles within the team. When Jayaratne was asked what he had to say about mediamen targeting manager, coach and captain in a negative manner after a series loss, he said, “Is that so. Well I don’t read the media”. It is time Jayaratne realized that media is a vital stakeholder of the game and makes valuable contributions by feeding cricket followers with valuable updates. If domestic cricket lacks a professional environment does it suggest that team rules regarding discipline are also breached back at home?

The sports minister has already asked for a report regarding the alleged incident on the tour. Manager Woutersz said that once it is ready he would hand it to SLC, so that the institute can deal with the sports ministry. It is safe to think that there had to be something substantial regarding the alleged incident that breached discipline otherwise the sports minister would not have called for an inquiry. Mathews affirmed that whoever who is found guilty of team discipline would not get away with it.

  • K.G.W.Abeytunge

    The prospect of the local coach being replaced by a foreign coach is a very real possibility. Under such circumstances, Mr. Jayaratne’s statement is understandable. His usefulness has to be measured by his coaching attributes and not by his casual statements to the press.