Minister Bandula Gunawardena is out. He thought it was a sixer he hit, with the ball rising up in the sky and racing to pass the boundary. But it suddenly moved down, and was caught by none other than the Vice Captain – the Prime Minister himself.
Which means the Homagama, Diyagama Test Cricket Field is out, at least now, being suspended. There is always a chance of a rebirth of a Cricket Ground that is named after none other than Mahinda Rajapaksa. But let that take its own time. We now have to cheer the Rajapaksa fielding at the boundary that sent Bandula Gunawardena to the pavilion; to think of another headline hitter that will stand out amidst the Covid scares.
Bandula who is the Minister of Information and Communications Technology in the Pohottuva Cabinet, is certainly bad in both Information and Communications. His Cabinet colleague Mahindananda Aluthgamage has said he is not sure whether Bandula made this statement about a ground because of a mental problem. His suspicions cannot be very far, when we remember Bandula saying that a family of five could live comfortably with Rs. 2,500 a month!
The situation is made worse with his political colleague and ex-MP Udaya Gammanpila telling the media he was misled by Bandula’s statement about funds for the Homagama Cricket Ground from the ICC; which said it had no idea of funding such a project.
Let Bandula G take more sleep during these curfew hours, to wake up with a better understanding of Information and Communications. Our real bother here is with Sri Lanka Cricket that was even louder than Bandula about this ground, and the foreign funding for it. As an institution that is supposed to develop the game of Cricket, and restore the glory we once had in the game, it has forgotten the game; but gives more importance to a ground, or grounds as in the past. The SLC is so crudely grounded that Cricket can have little hope of progress.
The cost of this super Test ground, to be constructed on a 26-acre state land, with a capacity of 40,000 was to be US$40 million. One doesn’t have to think of how many, many millions that would be in our rupees. Was there or is there no one in SLC who has some understanding and concern about what this country is going through just now, with Covid-19? Is SLC not bothered about the numbers who are and soon will be unemployed in this country due to this pandemonium? Not very likely. They are not the gentlemen who play Cricket, but the dirty hunters of publicity, profit and the rainfall of commissions.
If the SLC has any real interest in the development of cricket in this country, can it be so ignorant or wholly unmoved by the fact that more than 500 of our schools have no toilets? Is there no generous thinking in the SLC to make it donate a few millions in rupees, not dollars, to build proper toilet facilities for the thousands of school children who attend these schools, and could be the future national players of Cricket?
Should the SLC and its operators and manipulators have no interest whatsoever in the absence of proper drinking water facilities in several hundred of our schools? Is there no one in the SLC who know the difficulties and suffering our rural people undergo in getting proper drinking water, and sending their children to school with small bottles of water, hardly sufficient for a school day?
The SLC need not ask the ICC – International Cricket Council – for any assistance for such school toilets and water facilities. All it has to do is to launch a Fund – a Cricket Support Fund, if necessary – to raise the money for these essential facilities for our schools. The contributions will freely flow from Sri Lankans here and abroad, and from foreign enthusiasts too.
That is not the thinking of SLC. Its thoughts are fixed on the Politics of Power, and the Profitability of Crooked Cricket. Its search for such profitability is the stuff of Crooked Cricket, that is focused on the biggest publicity that does not promote the Gentleman’s Game but the lay of the Crooked!
While both Bandula G and the SLC have been bowled out in this Million Dollar Ground Game, will it now get back to the meeting room and think how it can contribute to building some proper playing fields, including Cricket grounds, that are so badly needed in so many of our schools? This is one way of getting away from your pervading image of Crooked Cricket – with no benefit to the game, but rewards of dirty profit that moves far away from the scores of good cricketers!