Cricket takes backseat as sex scandal rocks Lanka

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By The Line Judge

Sri Lankans love to gossip while the media thrive on scandals to increase their readership just like some television channels slant news to increase their ratings. This is a deadly mixture which could affect the lives and careers of innocent people. Normally scandalous stories surface on irresponsible social media platforms but when a supposedly mainstream newspaper goes to town with an alleged sex scandal involving a Sri Lankan cricketer and a senior health official; it becomes a case of being pronounced guilty without a trial.

This alleged incident during the ongoing series against England should be nipped in the bud by holding an inquiry because it is a slur on the well being of those involved in this gentleman’s game. Also coming as it does on the heels of Sri Lanka’s debacle in South Africa and on the eve of the second Test against England, it can have a damaging affect on the team’s morale, especially after the thrashing at the hands of England in the first Test.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has acted swiftly to limit the damage by promising to hold an inquiry.

“In consideration of the seriousness of the alleged incident which was reported by the mainstream media, SLC has instructed the Team Manager Mr. Asantha De Mel to submit a report on the incident forthwith in order to find out the veracity of the said news reports. SLC wishes to state that once the Team Manager submits his report, an inquiry will be conducted into the alleged incident, if the findings of the report warrant such an inquiry. SLC holds a zero-tolerance policy against misbehaviour and stern action will be taken against any party if proven guilty,” SLC stated in a release.

Head coach Mickey Arthur has rubbished the scurrilous allegations while a local cricket pundit lamented the fact that there are more serious issues facing the national team than believing in gossip.

“Shame on you for believing this rubbish! Do you honestly believe this can happen in a bio secure bubble……scandalous reporting!!” tweeted @Mickeyarthurcr1. He should know better of what is going in the dressing room.

“We as a nation should be shameful for believing in gossip and ignoring real issues. The real issues are First Class cricket, lack of exposure for A team, fitness and our ICC rankings,” tweeted senior cricket writer @RexClementine.

The alleged sex scandal seems to have camouflaged Sri Lanka’s meek capitulation in South Africa and in Galle where they were skittled out for their lowest total of 135 in the venue on the opening day. Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara was quoted as saying there was no excuse for the spineless batting performance in the first innings. Another former Sri Lanka skipper Angelo Mathews made a welcome return to form from injury grinding a half century battling for five hours to score 71 off 219 balls to show some semblance of a fight-back and take the match into the final day.

“Inside us we are confident that we can win the next Test; we lost the first Test due to our poor batting in the first innings. All of us will take the blame for that. In the second innings we managed to rectify our mistakes, but it was a little bit too late,” he said.

South African Mickey Arthur wants the young batsmen in the team to apply and play an innings similar to that of Mathews who defied the England attack along with Lahiru Thirimanne, who scored a century to help Sri Lanka score 359 in the second innings and avert an innings defeat.

“Angelo Mathews’ innings was just superb in these conditions, the way he applied himself, the tempo of his innings, his game plans. All our young batsmen just need to watch the way he went about his business to know how to bat on a turning wicket. I am looking for a lot more of the same. We need somebody to get a big score,” said Arthur who pleaded for patience with Kusal Mendis who managed to break his sequence of four ducks.

“I’ll keep reaffirming that Kusal Mendis is a wonderful player, he will score a lot of runs in the future for Sri Lanka,” he said.

Sri Lanka’s dismal performance on the field, attitude of some reserves who were caught on camera playing cards when the chips were down and distractions off the field, overshadowed the announcement of Mumbai Indians legend Lasith Malinga that he was quitting franchise cricket. Perhaps one of the greatest overseas players to grace the IPL (Indian Premier League), Malinga leaves on a high being the highest wicket taker (170) in 122 matches. The only bowler to take four wickets in four consecutive deliveries in ODIs as well as in T20Is, he is also the only bowler who has two World Cup hat-tricks. In fact he has the most hat-tricks in international cricket (five) and the first bowler to take 100 T20I wickets.

“Lasith Malinga has been at the core of Mumbai Indians for 12 years. We respect his decision, even though I would have liked him to be part of our bowling attack for another 5 years,” stated Mumbai Indians Owner Akash Ambani.

“It’s been an honour playing alongside you and picking your brain all these years, Mali. Congratulations on a successful career, the IPL won’t be the same without you,” tweeted Indian pacer Jasprit Bumrah who has Malinga’s identical sling shot bowling action.

“When there was no #Rohit no #Bumrah  no #Pandyas When #MI had no #IPL trophies. There was one man, who stood there for us like a Champion! Separamadu Lasith Malinga is his name,” tweeted another Mumbai fan.

Franchise cricket will definitely miss Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning T20 captain who captivated fans with his laser guided yorkers. His final delivery in the 2019 IPL which saw him trap the batsman leg before when Chennai Super Kings had to get two runs off the final ball will remain etched in living memory.

-ENCL

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