Stubborn ‘Health Authorities’ derails Sri Lanka Cricket

Written by N Krishnamurthy

Even though the Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa advocates in favor of Return Of the international cricket, the stringent guidelines by the Health authorities have made it near impossible for Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to invite any international team in the country. As a result, while all other nations have successfully resumed playing cricket, Sri Lanka, even after being the least affected among all, is trailing behind big time! More worryingly, after losing out half a dozen International home series in last seven months, now SLC is heading towards the yet another postponement of ambitious Lanka Premier League (LPL) as well, if health authorities remains non-cooperative!

Sri Lanka last played a series against West Indies in February and all their international assignments so far have been put off due to the Covid-19 outbreak, which has paralyzed entire world since then. Due to the pandemic, Sri Lanka has already lost out on hosting a couple of high-profile cricket series. In March, England’s two-Test tour of Sri Lanka was postponed after the ECB requested for it due to the growing threat of the virus. Last week, India’s tour of Sri Lanka was also called off, an assignment that should have seen India played three ODIs and three T20Is starting June end and continuing till July. Just few weeks ago, Bangladesh’s three-Test tour of Sri Lanka was also postponed indefinitely,  following a stalemate between the BCB and SLC over quarantine requirements, with weeks of negotiation failing to yield an agreement between the two boards.

Surprisingly, all these time, Sri Lanka were considered as one of the safest and least affected country from the deadly virus. However, the reluctant of health authorities played a spoilsport for the SLC, in resuming International cricket.

“To be honest, the health authorities are too afraid to make bold decision like this. They are typical government servants, afraid for everything. In last few month, whenever we went to them with a proposal to resume International cricket, they used to appoint a committee to take the decision. Then, if the committee is of eight members, four says yes and other four says no. That’s always been a case with them. As a result, we are not able to play any sort of International cricket, which is very frustrating, given the fact that Sri Lanka government has controlled the virus spreading” a top SLC official told Cricket Age. 

During this period, all other cricket playing nations showed the courage and strategies to play the game –  adhering to health guidelines and make it flexible. For example, even though the UAE was badly hit with the virus, it’s government and concerned authorities provided much-needed support to the BCCI, in successfully organizing the Indian Premier League (IPL). Now, the cash-rich league is just one week away from the final stage matches. England – one of the worst affected by the virus with almost 1 million cases and nearly 46,000 deaths – defied all odds to resume international cricket, hosting West Indies, Pakistan and Australia. Pakistan has also resumed it’s International cricket this week itself, by hosting Zimbabwe for the limited-overs series.

In Sri Lanka, the health authorities are adamant from the first day that the visiting teams must undergo a 14-day strict quarantine in complete isolation in a hotel room.

This non-practical approach is now certain to hit SLC even more harder, as the LPL is scheduled to start on November 21 in Hambantota, where the first leg of matches is expected to be played. The second leg will be in Pallekele.

“The players should be here by November 7 in order to play. Not even one week to kick start the proceedings, but to be honest, we still don’t know whether it will be played or not. It’s very surprising, especially when the country’s honorable President and honorable Sports Minister are also in favor of resuming the Sport in the country, adhering to health guidelines. More importantly, it will bring the revenue and joy in the faces of millions of cricket fans at the same time” the top SLC official added.

As, Sri Lanka is due to travel to South Africa for a two-match Test series soon after the LPL is completed, there’s no chance of pushing it back further. In this scenario, the LPL is staring towards uncertain future.

“It will kill the board financially. More Importantly, we will be trailing big time to other cricket playing nations” the top SLC official concluded.

About the author

N Krishnamurthy