Sri Lanka cricketers outgrow the game, get too big for their boots | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka cricketers outgrow the game, get too big for their boots

30 May, 2021
Sri Lankans could do well if their minds are not corrupted by senior players
Sri Lankans could do well if their minds are not corrupted by senior players

Demanding bigger pay is one thing, wanting to hide what they earn is another:

Some of Sri Lanka’s senior cricketers have outgrown their boots, become too big for the game and are dictating to their employer how much they should pocket, all this at a time when they have lost their bargaining clout, fallen low down in the international ranks and cannot even find a regular place in the team.

They have also become sore after their employer, Sri Lanka Cricket, justifiably told followers and fans how much they earn as they now join the super rich in the island who don’t have to reveal their wealth while only the poor estate workers or labourers are made to tell the country how much they draw.

What the beleaguered senior players don’t realise is that transparency comes at a price while their once adoring followers in Sri Lanka have begun to frown on them for making a big fuss and a public outcry after it was revealed how much they earn as professionals in a country whose half the population live on less than two dollars a day.

Most of them contend that it was only fair that the people who pay to see them perform at the venue or pay TV channels for live broadcasts, ought to know how much they are paid for performing.

“Why is it that we Sri Lankans only read in the papers about how much Messi, Ronaldo, Federer and Tiger Woods earn as professional sportsmen and the moment one of our international players have his earnings made public, somebody cries foul,” asked one cricket follower.

A former cricketer who was among the first batch of players in the post Test era who did not wish to be embroiled in what he called “privileged secrecy”, said he cannot understand why today’s players in Sri Lanka have to demand how much they get or take offence because their earnings have been made public.

“There is nothing wrong in playing for money as professional sportsmen or women in the present era. So what is wrong when how much they earn is spoken in public.

“Today we have a country like the USA offering citizenship and money to non-Americans to form an international cricket team. If these (senior)players feel they are worth much more, then they should try America, but also be prepared not to emotionally complain when the people there get to know how much you are paid,” he said.

Some analysts who are not cricket fans contend that in Sri Lanka senior cricketers or favourites have been mollycoddled to such an extent in the past and present that it had paved the way for hundreds of young and untested players to either give up or move overseas.

“What is happening here in Sri Lanka is not closed-door Asiatic mentality if you take what is happening at the IPL in India where we all know how much players like Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja earn as pros,” said one of them. He said that what some Sri Lankan cricketers don’t realise is that by objecting to transparency they are only practicing hypocrisy as they take pride in displaying their wealth through the latest model SUVs and opulent lifestyles.

But no one needs to go far for answers when it comes to the private lives of public figures than look to one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic and professional players who never let down his fans, the great Aravinda de Silva who destroyed Australia’s bowlers in the 1996 final for his county to lift the World Cup.

De Silva was not only proud of his achievements but also made no secret of the fact that cricket made him a high end celebrity like it is all over the world with world famous entertainers and showbiz artists.

“As past players we are happy to see these (present day) players make a career out of sport. But if you look at our present day performances, we are down in the rankings.

“We should have implemented things that we have implemented now a long time ago. There are a lot of (contract) responsibilities to perform and represent the country and this is the part that has to be achieved through this (result oriented) process,” said De Silva who is now the chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket’s technical advisory committee.

A junior cricketer who played in this week’s ODI series in Bangladesh told the Sunday Observer that some senior players he did no wish to name told him to fall in line and take a rebellious stand against the establishment.

“I am a new comer and my priority is to prove my self as a professional with wickets and runs or runs and wickets and then be in a position to take a look at myself. I don’t want to embarrass my self as a failure asking for the moon,” he said on condition that he not be named.

But a senior rebel player who also did not wish to be named told the Sunday Observer that as long as Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) sees them as players available for selection, they should be paid more than anyone else in the country by way of what he called “individual earnings.”

“Look, some of the guys working at SLC take home more than what we get. It should be the other way around. If not then they must tell us that there are other players to choose from. This way we know where we stand,” he said.