International cricket presents its players and administrators with an amazing opportunity to dazzle like in a corporate environment. Large multinational companies very often become stronger after facing a crisis. This is because crisis brings the best out of humans. It taps hidden potential and shows how big you can get if you apply yourself. West Indies did that at the recent T20 World Cup as they went on to beat England in the final.
What can Sri Lanka learn from this West Indies win? The ‘Lions’ too tried their luck at this mega sporting event, but crashed out in the league stage as predicted. Sri Lanka too had their problems in not having their strike bowler Lasith Malinga (injury) and veterans like Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara (retired) which meant the road to defend the title would take them on a bumpy ride. But that is nothing compared to the ‘storm’ West Indies experienced on their way to winning this coveted cricket title.
Skipper Darren Sammy said it all when he revealed how the team manager Rawl Lewis went to Kolkata in search of uniforms for the players. There were so many uncertainties associated with West Indies cricket. The players were not having a healthy rapport with the West Indies Cricket Board. There was not even a congratulatory message from the cricket board for the winners when messages started pouring in after Sammy’s men dismantled England in the final.
A comparison can be made between the WICB president Dave Cameron and Sri Lanka Cricket President Thilanga Sumathipala. They are both kind of autocrats. The difference was that Sumathipala had his chargers under his control during the T20 World Cup, but not Cameron. Sammy went on air after the finals and revealed how shabbily players are treated back at home. Some of these players are not even invited to play Test cricket. Sammy said that he didn’t know when these players would get together and contest a T20 cricket tournament again. Things are so bad. But that’s one side of the coin, according to Cameron.
Sometimes dictators are good for the sport, a thought that Cameron endorses. The big man of West Indies cricket has said in an interview with an Indian newspaper that some of his decisions have made him unpopular because they are aimed at turning the sport around. It would be interesting to assume how Sumathipala would have fared in handling the cricket crisis in the Caribbean Islands if he was president of the WICB.
Cameron was invited to play a role in West Indies cricket administration when he was just 32 years old. Now he is 47-years-old and turned into a very strong willed person. He says he is often a misunderstood person. The difficulty to get along with people when asserting his views doesn’t make him the most lovable person in a meeting room. He has said he is sick and tired of West Indies losing at cricket, a sentiment that Sumathipala would share if the cricketers of his island hit a lean patch.
Now it has happened. The ‘Lions’ went on a hunt to India and returned with nothing. Sumathipala told the media when he introduced coach Graham Ford to them that he wanted Sri Lanka to win the ICC World Cup in 2020. Sumathipala knows that cricket goes beyond the boundaries of sport and serves as one of the best modes of entertainment in the country. If cricket is on track, then revenue is guaranteed. The lives of cricketers then will be good, unlike in the West Indies team where players are grumbling about payments.
We have heard about the cancellation of A.R. Rahman’s tour to Sri Lanka. These reasons for that are related to the history of our politics. Sumathipala is also from the ruling government. It is good if he is aware that cricket has to be ‘all right’ because when we turn on our televisions for entertainment we need to see Sri Lanka win at cricket!