If Australia were looking for a desperate way to push the spotlight away from them, they could not have asked for a better opponent. After being ripped apart to reveal fragility against the Indian team, Australian cricket can breathe easy as Sri Lanka appear to be falling apart on and off the field.
That the rot had indeed sunk deeper into the cricketers was evident in the fact that not a month after Lasith Malinga took over from Thisara Perera and Dinesh Chandimal as Twenty20 and one day internationals captains respectively, his wife posted a message on social media that has set the cat amongst the pigeons even as Sri Lanka are dealing with a heavy defeat in the first Test down under and in the midst of fighting for pride in the second.
That Sri Lanka’s cricket administration had trouble within the ranks is not a new headline. For at least the past couple of decades, there has been no hiding from the fact that Sri Lanka’s cricket is deeply embroiled in power struggle, nepotism, government interference and is an entity unlike no other. Time and time again, irrespective of the results on the field, Sri Lanka’s cricket administration has faced fickle times as a result of the disharmony, seeking dissolution and ad hoc appointments on a whim.
The past few months have been torturous for the one-time ICC Cricket World Cup winners whose had captured the hearts and imagination of the cricket loving public. However, 1996 seems a faraway dream as Sri Lanka wrestle to maintain equanimity in the face of corruption charges that have led the International Cricket Council (ICC) to give the board a fifteen day amnesty period to come clean. This came after former cricketers such as Sanath Jayasuriya and Nuwan Zoysa were found in the red for non-cooperation and fixing respectively.
In turmoil on the field in terms of producing consistent results in the aftermath of the exit of the talented twin duo of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara, Sri Lanka’s cricket has struggled to maintain an aura of dignity. Captaincy since had become Russian roulette with all-rounder Angelo Mathews even threatening to quit cricket at one point over being demoted from the captaincy ranks.
Lack of success has continued to make matters worse as Malinga, only days after being appointed captain, has to now face another barrage as his wife, Tanya, alleged Perera was seeking government intervention for his place in the team. With the unrest having spread into the WAGS corner and with social media now becoming an unwitting participant, it is hard to see Sri Lanka being able to back out of this corner for the team to perform in cohesion.
Even the coaching position has not been spared ignominy and the sense of farce about the proceedings. Once banned for stalling play along with the captain over ball tampering allegations in the West Indies, Chandika Hathurasingha now finds himself out of the on-tour selection team that now includes the team manager and the captain. It is hard to see how the dynamics plays out or for the sport to suddenly come clean given that Sri Lanka already have their backs to the wall, on the field and off it as well with the malice having spread deep enough to create proxy wars.