ICC MUST regulate international cricket schedules - says Mahela
CRICKET: Sri Lanka cricket captain Mahela Jayawardena warned that the
cream of cricket which is the Test form and 50-over game could be
engulfed by the advent of Twenty20 cricket that is seriously threatening
to undermine the two pivotal forms of the game sacred to its reputation,
unless the ICC stepped into the picture and regulate the newest version
on its annual international schedules.
"What I mean is the ICC (International Cricket Council) must strike a
balance between all forms of cricket", Mahela Jayawardena told'Sunday
Observer' during a brief interview. He added: "I think, right now, that
is the way forward for cricket in general.
"What happens now is that there are Twenty20 tournaments springing up
everywhere and therefore it becomes more of a circus if I may put it in
that sense. It has also led to the current impasse that has occurred in
our cricket. I feel that all these issues could be sorted out, if the
ICC and the cricket boards of the countries can come to an understanding
and sort things out for the satisfaction of all concerned."
Jayawardena noted that as a result of Twenty20 cricket taking
precedence over Test and ODI cricket all international players have been
sandwitched in between and that it will not augur well for both players
and the basic structure of cricket. "I think this is not a very healthy
sign at all", he said. "It is very difficult to hold four different
Twenty20 tournaments per year and players being dragged from one
tournament to another.
"Why I say this is not a ideal situation, is because once players get
pushed about, the player then will start to make decisions on their own,
like what has happened now," Skipper Jayawardena stated, referring to
the ongoing dispute between a key group of national players and the
Chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket's Interim Committee Arjuna Ranatunga. The
second edition of the Indian premier League (IPL) has been announced
before the dates of the proposed tour of England were finalised. Both
engagements were fixed for 2009.
Asked to comment on the current stance of the group of players led by
him, who are involved in an impasse with the SLC over the intended tour
of England next year in April-May, Mahela evaded the question, saying
the media should clarify any development with the Secretary of the Sri
Lanka Cricketers Association Graeme Labrooy.
Jayawardena urged the powers that be in world cricket to seriously
consider having one solid window for all players to compete in one big
Twenty20 tournament. If that is done, many thorny issues which have
cropped up of late, concerning two of the Asian nations Sri Lanka and
Bangladesh for example, could have been sorted out. The Sri Lanka
skipper said that he is not in a very powerful position in the I.C.C. or
Sri Lanka Cricket to give a ruling on this issue.
"All I can do is to give my views with regard to this issue when I am
quizzed and if the authorities can act on it, I think it will make a
difference in the long run", Jayawardena said. Commenting on the current
'break' enjoyed from international cricket by his team, since the end of
the home Test and ODI series against India, Mahela Jayawardena said that
the postponement of the ICC champions Trophy (Mini World Cup) in
Pakistan was a blessing in disguise as the Sri Lanka players needed a
'break' as they needed a rest period as they had been playing
continuously for eight months. A rest was necessary so that they would
be able to recharge their batteries before the start of a new season",
The Sri Lankan skipper said that "Some players like Sangakkara who
has gone to Australia for a surgery and has come back, but is preparing
to fly again to Australia for further treatment.
"I also have had a knee injury, a niggling one and I too need some
respite and then there were guys like Maharoof, who I think has
recovered by now".
Jayawardene said on the domestic circuit most of his players have
been playing Division 1 cricket, besides provincial cricket as well
which goes to show that the cricketers have been involved with cricket
right along in some way or the other whilst taking a deserved break from
the international arena.
ICC in charge
Airing his views on Sri Lanka's inability to have more Test cricket
against top ICC ranked nations like Australia and South Africa,
Jayawardena diplomatically pointed to the ICC's Future Tours Programme
(FTP) and emphasised that his team had no other alternative but to abide
by the schedule mapped out by the world controlling body.
He said that he would like to stick to the FTP and play against
whoever the opposition may be without grumbling on it, saying that his
side was not getting much exposure unlike some of their counterparts.
Commenting on the upcoming Canada Cup Twenty20 extravaganza in
Toronto, Canada, the Sri Lanka skipper Jayawardena said that it was a
good chance for his team to stake a claim for the title alongside
Pakistan, Zimbabwe and host nation Canada respectively.
The tournament is slated to be held from October 10-13 at Maple Leaf
ground in Toronto. Jayawardena was also pleased with the squad chosen
for the short series in Canada, saying a lot of deserving players had
got a 'break' and that with the upcoming tour of Zimbabwe, the action in
Toronto could stand in good stead for his players.
"There is healthy rivalry between youngsters and seniors alike, he
said, talking of the squad chosen for the Canada event.
The Sri Lanka captain was philosophical when asked for his views on
the team being pitted against bottom-ranked ICC Test nations like
Bangladesh and Zimbabwe more often than not, Jayawardena observed that
before Sri Lanka received ICC Test status, Sri Lanka too, had played
rookie teams regularly. It was unfair to look down on such countries
now", he said.
The Sri Lanka skipper also spoke of the decision to hand over half of
the contract to injury plagued 'slinger' fast bowler Lasith Malinga and
said that as members of the Sri Lanka Cricketers Association, its duty
was to look into the interests of players and the express pacer was no
exception, considering the service rendered to the country thus far.
However, he confirmed that the fast bowler would naturally have fight
on his hands to regain his place in the side, since the advent of novice
pacers like Nuwan Kulasekera, Thilan Thushara Mirando, Dhammika Prasad
and the more experienced Chaminda Vaas.
Sri Lanka squad for Canada Cup Twenty20 subject to ratification by
the Sports Minister: Mahela Jayawardena (Capt), Sanath Jayasuriya,
Mahela Udawatte, Chamara Kapugedera, Jehan Mubarak, Thillekerathne
Dilshan (WK), Jeewantha Kulathunga, Farveez Maharoof, Nuwan Kulasekera,
Thilan Thushara Mirando, Ajantha Mendis, Thilina Kandamby, Dilhara
Fernando, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Kaushalya Weeraratne.
Schedule: October 10 - Zimbabwe vs Sri Lanka, Pakistan vs Canada.
October 11 - Pakistan vs Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka vs Canada. October 12 -
Pakistan vs Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe vs Canada. October 13 Play off match for
3rd place and Final.