Flights of fancy

Wednesday, 3 July 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

SRI Lanka Cricket has stated that an inquiry would be held into an incident where a drunken Sri Lankan cricketer had attempted to open an aircraft cabin door while it was 35,000 feet up in the air. This caps an eventful few days for the game’s administrators, who were told earlier in the week by the International Cricket Council (ICC) that they will not be hosting any major tournaments for the next 10 years. The inquiry was ordered after international media reported that a drunken cricketer of the Sri Lanka A team caused panic on a packed British Airways (BA) passenger flight when he tried to open the cabin door at 35,000ft. The name of the cricketer has not been revealed but will doubtlessly emerge over the next few days. In his stupor he had tugged away for up to two minutes at the exterior door before telling BA cabin crew on board the packed Boeing 777 that he had mistaken it for the toilet. Entertaining as the episode is, it does little to lighten the fortunes of the game, which is struggling both in terms of form and financial resources. Over the weekend the ICC announced its international calendar till 2023 and shockingly Sri Lanka and Pakistan are the only two countries not to be assigned any events. Even the SLC officials were reported to have been unaware of the developments despite several top officials attending ICC meetings in England ahead of the announcement. Speculation is rife that SLC’s mishandling of previous events, which included the World Cup that left the organisation trapped in colossal debt, may be a reason for Sri Lanka to have been left out in this round of allocations. Sadly, this is not a new development. With almost unlimited resources and facilities given to the cricketers, it was inevitable that corruption also seeped into the game. After the iconic 1996 World Cup win, real money began to flow in and with that came the shady deals, especially with regard to lucrative TV rights contracts. The shadowy signing and leaving of contracts with cable networks has resulted in Sri Lanka Cricket having to pay off millions of dollars and the stage seems to be set for continued bad management. When Sri Lanka hosted the World Cup, SLC tossed itself into more debt. Desperate for funds and unable to pay players, the cricket administration appealed to the Cabinet for more funds. Impatient with their mismanagement, the Cabinet refused and SLC was forced to tighten their belts by reducing staff and taking stronger fiscal measures. Yet, the same malaise continues to corrupt SLC and the Sports Ministry, with no steps being taken to provide transparency and accountability for the financial decisions taking place behind the scenes. Millions of dollars in revenue are being lost that could be used to develop other sports but not a word is spoken. Blatant politicisation and cronyism has eroded the love people once had for the sports. Allegations of corruption and mismanagement have also dogged the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL), which was expected to bail the SLC out of financial discomfort. There are also indications that the 2013 season will run into trouble as dates are clashing with the West Indian tournament, which could result in a loss of revenue to SLC. Despite investigations by the Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) and repeated mistakes, it seems that SLC is once again teetering over the edge with only the loyalty of fans to save it.