IPL or Sri Lanka - what should come first?

Some blog posts contain unedited fan-submitted content — Create an account to start your own blog

Graeme LabrooyNever before has a league or format divided opinions in Sri Lanka as much as the IPL and T20 cricket have. Even though for years players have retired from international cricket well before their time to play county cricket, retiring early to play T20s is blasphemy to some. Why?

The critics of the IPL and T20s - the Arjuna Ranatunga camp - are extremely annoyed that during the IPL season Sri Lanka's international and domestic calendar is on hold, players like Muttiah Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga have chosen to retire from Test and ODI cricket early to play in the IPL and in 2009 a last-minute tour to England was cancelled after Sri Lankan players protested that it was conflicting with the IPL.

There are people all around us who hate change - Ranatunga is one of them. When ODI cricket was first introduced and Ranatunga embraced it, there were old-timers in those days who claimed ODIs and day/night cricket would be the death of Test cricket. It was not. Only to the eternal pessimist does it seem like Test cricket is threatened, others view T20 cricket as a gateway to entice more new fans to Test matches.

The IPL has polarised even journalist in Sri Lanka, with Ranatunga's help of course. The Island's Rex Clementine, who regularly quotes Ranatunga and shares Ranatunga's view on the IPL, has not been shy to criticise and attack players taking part in the IPL and their agents. Perhaps due to Clementine's dislike of the IPL, The Island newspaper does not even carry scores of IPL matches.

Ranatunga has also used Clementine like a pawn in his game to attack the representatives of the Sri Lanka Cricketers' Association (SLCA) - the blokes who look out for the rights of our cricketers - because the SLCA was in the forefront, when Ranatunga was chairman of the cricket board in 2008, presenting the players' case to the media, cricket board and public.

Back then, without much consideration Ranatunga had agreed to help out the England cricket board by sending Sri Lanka to replace Zimbabwe. The English wanted Zimbabwe's tour there in 2009 cancelled because Robert Mugabe was re-elected in a sham election. The players were naturally upset that they would no longer be able to make the big bucks at the IPL.

Whether you agree with the players' stance or not, one thing was clear - Sri Lanka could not afford to upset India with whom they shared cordial ties with and depended on greatly financially. No other tour brings as much revenue for the Sri Lankan board like an Indian tour to Sri Lanka does and it's no secret that Sri Lanka needs India's financial support just to stay afloat.

When he was chairman Ranatunga was still keen on attacking India's T20 tournament in the media, which understandably upset the Indians and prompted a meeting between India and Sri Lankan sports ministry officials in Thailand in 2008. India agreed to pay a fee annually to Sri Lanka in order to release the players and the Sri Lankan cricket board benefits every year from their IPL players' earnings to the tune of almost half a million dollars.

As the head of the cricket board, Ranatunga was more preoccupied with preserving his reputation as fearless and outspoken than being a diplomatic leader of the cricket board. In 2009, India was just into the second season of their new tournament and as far as they were concerned not having Sri Lankan players present was not ideal. It was in fact England who had refused to cooperate and allow Sri Lanka to send a side minus its IPL players. But India's cricket board, Sri Lankan IPL players and those who protect players' rights have borne the brunt of the critiscm for the cancellation of the tour.

"FICA believes that a player has the right to choose where he plays and for whom he plays - the days of 'playing for your country' as the only way you could earn a professional living as a cricketer are well and truly behind us," the chief executive of the Federation of International Players' Associations (FICA) Tim May told ESPNCricinfo recently.

"International cricket needs to realise that there is a competitor to their ability to contract players, and to ensure they react appropriately and progressively to these new market forces. The imposition of unenforceable regulations (such as No Objection Clauses) is obviously not the answer.

"International cricket bodies need to make international cricket attractive to players. These measures should include smarter programming of matches, addressing the volume-of-cricket issues, offering fair terms and conditions in contracts, meeting their agreed contractual obligations and embracing player input."

Instead of authoritarianism and attacking people like Graeme Labrooy, whose job as the SLCA secretary back in 2008 was to ensure players' rights and interests were looked after, Ranatunga and his cohorts should focus on improving the earnings and well-being of Sri Lankan players so they can easily turn down overseas offers to play for Sri Lanka.

So, what should come first - is it IPL or Sri Lanka? Neither. The players should come first. After years of playing for next to nothing, it's time we focused on the best interests of these incredibly skilled athletes.

© Island Cricket


Stormy's picture
Member since:
15 January 2011
Last activity:
4 days 4 hours

@Slion no I dont beleive the BCCI will allow SL to build the #1 team, that would be up to SL. The point is right now the wheels of SL cricket are wobbly mainly due to the financial crisis. SL needs to get over this crisis first and then look to the future and the best way out of that is through the BCCI. You cannot build a number one team when the grass roots are neglected or under funded. Basically my point is SL needs to 'milk' the BCCI (the fatest cash cow for a country mile) to get out of the hole.

I realize the players have been paid now but if my employer didn't pay me for a year and I had a limited working life of say 3 years (Mahela, Sanga, Dilshan), I would be taking matters in to my own hands and ensuring I maximize my earning capacity in that time. I definitley would not be putting myself in the hands of my un-reliable employer country or not.

logan's picture

@Asanka2002:Ranjan Madugalle and Roshan Mahanama were both reputed match referees.However,Labrooy wasn't.So his elevation as a match referee at the IPL raises questions.I have never repeated what Rex Clementine has said but verified my facts and I KNOW WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT

@#2:Gavin may well be in the payroll of Roshan Abeysinghe as well.I know both the gentlemen but they aren't agressively business minded like Charlie Austin

Jagath Perera's picture
Member since:
7 April 2010
Last activity:
1 year 8 weeks

Logan you dont know what your talking about. ICC appoints match referees for IPL! You know the facts?? Hina! :)

Anonymous's picture

arjuna is a number one idiot, he wanted to be seen as "The Patriot" also most of the times he wants to pick fights. He should be sent far away from SLC as he has no diplomatic skills and administrative skills to govern such a body like his bro.

This whole IPL vs SLC thing is totally unnecessary. Arjuna and the SLC created a problem.

1. Arjuna decided for an england tour hastily.

2. By that time it was known players had agreed to play for the IPL (i may be wrong here can some1 clarify), so why does he need to go for it? This man wants confrontation.

3. IPL is loved and watched by many in SL, even they have their own favourites.

4. IPL is lucrative for SL players, so why block them? After all they are our countrymen, let them earn.

5. IPL is lucrative for SLC, so why disagree with it?

6. As a cricket fan I could say IPL is good for cricket, it has taken cricket to new heights.

7. Arjuna is not concerned about cricket or the country, he is concerned about it because the crickters didnt listen to him. He is hell bent on proving him correct that IPL destroy SLn cricket and boost his ego. But the truth is IPL is lucrative for SLn cricketrs.

He is using this country before anything card to harass the players who play in IPL. Actually Arjun has damaged SL cricket by this.

1. The players who participated in IPL are looked down upon.

2. The fans are divided,as pro IPL and anti IPL.

3. Problems have started between a SLC and a friendly cricket board, upon whom SLC depended very much.

4. The attention is deviated from the corruption in SLC to the players devotion for the country.

5. SLC have problems with its key player malinga some going to the extent of calling him a trator.

This whole thing was avoidable and unnecessary. The ones who started it at SLC are at fault. It is the trend in SL these days to rouse the so called patriotism and brand anybody a traitor who doesnt agree with them. The gullible people can be deceived and carried away by this cardboard patriots.

It is a tragedy!

Post new comment

All anonymous comments are moderated.
  • Avoid abusive remarks and personal attacks.
  • Avoid posting unrelated links.
  • Avoid vulgar or obscene language.
Already a member? Log-in now. Not a member? Sign up for a new account.
Enter each letter you see in the box below. It helps us prevent automated submissions from spammers.