Playing on a ‘Political wicket?’

Playing on a ‘Political wicket?’

May 16, 2010   01:09 pm

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As Englandand Australia prepare to meet in the final of the ICC World Twenty20 cricket tournament, there is festering discontent in Sri Lanka whose team was one of the losing semi-finalists.

 

 

The unhappiness is over the continued inclusion in their squad of Sanath Jayasuriya, a former captain who attained legendary status in earlier times but is now widely accused of being past his best – and of using political influence to continue playing.

 

 

In the current Sri Lankan cricket team, sport and politics are well and truly mixed up. For the first time anywhere in the world, an elected Member of Parliament is playing international cricket – namely Sanath Jayasuriya, who’s just become a legislator for the President’s party and is continuing his sporting career aged nearly 41.

 

           

Sri Lankadid reach the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 in the West Indies. But Jayasuriya scored only 15 runs in six matches despite opening the innings for the last four games.

 

The sports minister has to confirm the selectors’ squad. And there have been unconfirmed rumours that he insisted on Jayasuriya’s inclusion for the tournament, and that the national captain, Kumar Sangakkara, almost resigned in protest.

 

 

In the media and the blogosphere there are growing calls for Sanath Jayasuriya to quit cricket.

 

 

On cricketing websites some fans have been scathing, saying that Sri Lanka playing is now like its governing party playing, or that Jayasuriya is “dancing to the tune” of the President.

 

 

But one more sympathetic fan questions why people should turn against him just because he is a politician; he is still fitter than many younger players, the fan says.

 

 

In an interview with the BBC Sinhala Service, Team Manager Anura Tennakone said that there was no political influence during the team selection process for Twenty 20 games. – (BBC)

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