Sri Lanka Cricket needs an authoritarian president to fight indiscipline

Arjuna Ranatunga
Courtesy: Getty Images

I was expecting Sri Lanka to win the World Cup and come back home with the trophy after they won the Asia Cup. But they came back home bringing shame to the entire country. The country that was in world news for inflation and economic crisis was all of a sudden in the headlines for the wrong reasons such as rape and brawl. This shows that the players lack discipline. And now I know why they couldn’t win the World Cup.

Our country has now lost to Zimbabwe, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and even Namibia in the last few years. Back in those days, we were one of the most feared countries in the world so much so even the mighty Australians were so scared that they refused to come to Sri Lanka. Now, everyone loves beating us for fun.

Sri Lanka finds itself in a hole deeper than Mr. Ranil Wickramasinghe’s pocket. And to start winning on the cricket field, they need to take their discipline seriously. Discipline is very important. That’s what makes the difference between an average cricketer and a good cricketer. The players must understand that they are lucky to be able to represent their mother nation in cricket matches. 21 million people are yearning for this opportunity. But only they have got it. They need to keep this in mind. Anybody can bat and bowl. It is not that difficult. But what is important is that you stay disciplined. These players were chosen just for that. They were expected to show the 2500-year-old Sri Lankan culture on the world stage, but they have only brought disrepute to our proud motherland.

Now, I am not worried about our cricketers raping and hitting. White folks love accusing us of it. They have accused our army of rape, murder, and things as trivial as genocide. They have accused our government of human rights violations. So, I am not going to bother about White people’s complaints. It’s time they understand that Sri Lanka is no more a White man’s colony and they must check their White privilege. What I am more bothered about is the culture of drinking, dating, smoking, and partying which is against our culture.

In the last few years alone, we have had our Test captain drunk drive and run over a tuk-tuk. One fellow hit a man with his car and killed him. He was also caught smoking in England along with two of his friends. They were frolicking even as the whole nation was struggling to bear the losses in England. Now, one of his friends has gone out on a Tinder date in the middle of a World Cup and embarrassed the whole nation. This has to stop.

Players these days are spoilt. They spend more time in nightclubs than in temples or nets. They are only interested in giving gallery talks and taking pictures and putting them on Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Tik Tok, and whatnot. It is not like those days when cricketers understood that they were representing their motherland and took their job seriously. Discipline, commitment, and patriotism were the reasons why Sri Lanka dominated world cricket.

Now, detractors might point at minor issues in those days, but they are what they are—just minor issues. Fredrick de Saram might have attempted a coup even before it was cool, but I don’t consider these Burgher buggers Sri Lankan. Sathasivam also got into trouble for being an alcoholic and murdering his wife. The question of if a Tamil like him should be considered Sri Lankan aside, one must note that this happened in Ceylon and not Sri Lanka.

Aravinda de Silva did have the habit of turning up to games late and munching on his breakfast while fielding, but at least he never forgot to bring his kit. He also spent an entire night out during the middle of a Test in Wellington, but he made sure no one recorded it and put that on Facebook.

There was also a cricketer who got caught stealing a mobile phone in England in the late nineties, but that was not an expensive smartphone; it was a normal feature phone.

Speaking of the nineties, both Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva were accused of match-fixing but were eventually cleared after the investigation failed to cross-examine the bookie. Arjuna has also been accused of sexually assaulting an air hostess but at least he didn’t refuse to wear a condom. He also made a short stop at the Colombo airport to honor the tour contract before flying back to India to play benefit matches, but he never chose IPL over his country. He may have also hit school students in 2001 but he never hit on women in nightclubs.

On the eve of the 1996 World Cup final, Sri Lankan cricketers were bargaining for rags, but that literally put the rags in their rags-to-riches story. The star of the 1996 World Cup Sanath Jayasuriya might be the Brown Johnny Sins, but he made sure his videos were not leaked at least until he retired. Even then, he was patriotic enough to take a two-year ban to save the honor of his mother country by refusing to hand over his phone to the ICC because his phone had all the stuff. And whenever he was caught with his pants down, it was on the cricket field and not in a hotel room.

Whenever Sanath was caught with his pants down, it was on the cricket field.

Even after the nineties, Sri Lanka’s great disciplinary record was well sustained. TM Dilshan was accused of rape in 2010 but he did not go to prison over it. He also threatened his neighbor over a property problem, but he also stood up to evangelists like Ahmad Shehzad, unlike the current born-again boys. Sangakkara may have a smoking problem, but that is just smoke without fire. Kaushal Lokuarachchi and Jehan Mubarak may have killed people in road accidents, but no one remembers them now so we should ideally move on.

This commitment to discipline was what made Sri Lanka a powerhouse. So, it is high time we bring back that discipline to make Sri Lanka Cricket great again. To do that, we need a Hitler-like board president.

This call is not unprecedented in Sri Lanka. An eminent cricket analyst called for a Hitler-like leader and the nation duly obliged by electing Gotabaya Sir. He campaigned on creating a disciplined society and within a very short time, he turned Sri Lanka into a very disciplined chart-topper.

During his rule, alcohol consumption and smoking went down as people could not afford them. Partying also slowed down because there was no electricity. People were also put on a strict diet plan and some people even started intermittent fasting. A doctor friend of mine told me that people’s body fat percentage went down like crazy during his time. People also took to riding bicycles and gave up on their motor vehicles. There were no drunk driving or road accidents. Sri Lanka’s carbon emission was also drastically cut down.

So, Sri Lanka Cricket should appoint a similar figure. And the only one who can come close is the great Arjuna Ranatunga. Like how Gotabaya Sir won a war, Arjuna won a World Cup. And both are proud products of a very disciplined and religious school.

Since discipline is the need of the hour, Sri Lanka Cricket should also be militarized, and Major Dinesh Chandimal should be appointed as the captain. He is also from the same great school, so, naturally, he will make a great leader.

Sri Lanka should put the cricketers in an army camp, and seize their mobile phones and other gadgets. Their Facebook should also be taken away from them. The only book they should be allowed to keep is the pirith book. They should be forced to practice daily and should be surveyed 24/7 by CCTV cameras. Their bank passbooks should also be taken away like what Arjuna did during those days. They should also be banned from having girlfriends and Sri Lanka Cricket should find them the right partner only when the time is right.

If Sri Lanka can start this today, they should be able to win the next ODI World Cup and do their motherland proud. After all, the major reason why England managed to win two World Cups in three years is their discipline. Just ask Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Johnny Bairstow, and Alex Hales.

This is a satire and is expected to be taken with a pinch of salt.