Royal and S. Thomas’ pull out of school cricket tournament

Naushad Amit

In a bizarre move in school cricket both Royal and S. Thomas’ have decided to pull out of the current inter-school cricket tournament, run by the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA).

The SLSCA and officials from the Ministry of Education are set to meet tomorrow to discuss a national policy for school cricket.

However, informed sources revealed that some of the institutions are not going to take the rulings in their stride. TheSLSCA together with Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) came out with a new set of regulations that is to be implemented with the kick-off of the First XI school cricket 2012/13.

All Division I schools were informed that only 16 games will be allowed to be played from this season, which also includes the annual Big Match, with games being restricted only to weekends. Additionally, a 72-hour break before the next match is compulsory. Despite these rules being made essential, it was clearly witnessed that almost all the schools were not following the said recommendations.

However, one of the few institutions in Sri Lanka to play cricket for over a century, S. Thomas’ College Mt. Lavinia, decided to withdraw from the tournament, citing concern for their players’ academic and sporting wellbeing. This took place prior to the beginning of the season. Last week Royal College Colombo joined their Battle of the Blues partners. But their explanations were rather different.

“Royal came to this decision purely because we felt that the proposed plans would do nothing good for school cricket. So we decided to stick with the traditional games which come to around 20 with the big-match,” a top official of Royal College, M.T. A. Rauff, who was also a senior official of the SLSCA in the past, explained.

However, according to Dilshan de Silva, the Secretary of the SLSCA, they have decided to also ban the junior teams of schools that withdraw their First XI teams.

“When we took this matter up with the Ministry of Education, they told us clearly to ban the Under-17, 15 and 13 teams of those schools who withdraw their senior teams from our competition. A circular will be sent in this regard to all schools after tomorrow’s meeting,” said de Silva, whose statement was charged by a Royal College official.

“There are schools that only play in the junior age groups and at the same time there are schools that only play in the senior age categories. And there are schools that take part in all age groups and some even field more than one team in one age group. So how can they (SLSCA) make such decisions on their own will,” the Royal official asked.

Though the controllers of school cricket claim to have come out with a bigger and brighter picture for the development of school cricket, it is also an open secret that besides a handful, many are not in favour of these sudden changes.

However, after tomorrow if the national policy on school cricket includes a point on banning the schools’ junior teams, just because the senior side is not competing at the senior level, some schools may seek legal advice on the subject, it is learned.COURTESY:SUNDAY TIMES