Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Aravinda de Silva and Anura Tennakoon have been appointed to a five-member committee to rehabilitate cricket in Sri Lanka. Brought together by the country’s sports ministry, the committee will make recommendations to the sports ministry and to Sri Lanka Cricket. Former SLC president Hemaka Amarasuriya heads the committee.
Though largely tight-lipped about the exact changes they wish to bring about, committee members did single out Sri Lanka’s poor injury record as an issue they had discussed. The likes of Asela Gunaratne, Kusal Perera and Angelo Mathews were all unavailable for the ongoing Test series against Pakistan, and Sri Lanka has also had long-term problems with its fast-bowling battery.
“One issue to look at in the short-term is the frequency of injuries,” De Silva said. “Whenever we have a good run of form, we get injuries to key players. We need to look at the research and try and gain a better understanding of why this is happening and how we can better handle it.”
Given Jayawardene’s presence, it can be presumed that the committee will also push for a revamp of Sri Lanka’s domestic cricket structure. Jayawardene has been a vocal critic of Sri Lanka’s present domestic system and had even drawn up plans for a provincial tournament, which was ultimately rebuffed by the incumbent board in 2015. Having worked on that plan for months, only to see it shelved, Jayawardene and his fellow committee members hope the new committee’s recommendations will be taken more seriously.
“We are not part of Sri Lanka Cricket,” Jayawardene said. “It’s up to them to implement these plans and we hope they do, because if not all these meetings would just be a waste of time.
“I’m willing to put in one final effort to help cricket in the country, but it’s up to the board to make it happen. We can’t just keep coming back over and over again, as some sort of band-aid solution.”
It appears that the SLC is indeed keen to revamp provincial cricket – as advised by Jayawardene two years ago – and a plan on the basis of that is expected to be presented towards the end of the year.
While it remains to be seen what other issues the committee will address, some attention might be paid to overhauling SLC’s bloated voting system. Sidath Wettimuny, when he was in-charge of the board on an interim period, advocated for the move quite strongly and had also recommended Jayawardene and Sangakkara to be brought in to the SLC decision making process.
As it stands, the committee has said it will first focus on short-term fixes following assurances by Sri Lanka’s sports minister that their suggestions would be taken seriously by SLC.