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Sunday, 28 February 2016





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Sri Lanka cracks down on mercenaries

SLC brands Mahela Jayawardena a rival unable to ‘cool-off’ in retirement:

Former cricket captain Mahela Jayawardena will have a new battle on his hands fighting off a backlash from Sri Lanka Cricket which is to pass a rule forbidding players who retire and then almost instantly pursue a new target that their onetime employer sees as selling secrets of former team-mates to rivals for money.

Mahela Jayawardena

Thilanga Sumathipala

Jayawardena hung up his lion-emblem Sri Lanka shirt after last year’s World Cup and is now the consultant coach of England who sought his services ahead of next month’s World T20 in the sub-continent.

England will be one of the opposing teams that will play against Sri Lanka in the World T20.

Jayawardena’s one time mentor Thilanga Sumathipala, now the current elected head of Sri Lanka Cricket, has nothing but frowning words for retired players who are taking advantage of a global trend where countries press the panic button and rush to enlist ex-crack shots that they know can help them pull the trigger with ‘inside information’.

“I had a lot of respect for Mahela Jayawardena, but he is now competing against us (Sri Lanka)”, Sumathipala lashed out.

“You play for Sri Lanka and then go to a rival country and advice them of the strengths and weaknesses of your country. We can’t have players joining rival teams and then advising them. We have been very protective of our strategy and now it is open-ended”.

Jayawardena is only the second retired Sri Lankan player in recent years to be contracted by a rival country to advise them on strategy and fine-tuning after New Zealand grabbed Chaminda Vaas for a stint three years ago. But what has upset Sri Lanka Cricket is that unlike Vaas who kept a low profile immediately after retirement, Jayawardena seized the offer from England at a time Sri Lanka is also set to tour the United Kingdom in May-June for three Tests and five ODIs.

“What are the ethics here? There is a cooling-off period after you retire and if players don’t understand this we have to pass a ruling to ban them for up to two years from offering their services to rival teams”, said Sumathipala.Jayawardena’s best ally on the cricket field fellow countryman Kumar Sangakkara also retired along with him but Sri Lanka Cricket has no grouse against the former south paw batsman whom Sumathipala said is advising them on the welfare of players.

Jayawardena is currently in England and is expected to bump into most of his ex-teammates during the World T20 which starts on March 8 in India.


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