Parliament: Arjuna, Sanath cross swords over Indian cricket debacle

One-time national cricket captain and the present Chairman of Selectors Sanath Jayasuriya yesterday accepted responsibility for Sri Lanka’s first ever 5-0 loss to India.

Participating in the committee stage debate on budget 2015 under the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Sports, Deputy Postal Minister said that national players should be prepared to represent the country at any time of the year.
In fact, they had been paid to play for the country throughout the year, the Deputy Minister said, strongly countering allegations that the government had complied with India’s request for a series of matches at the expense of the unprepared national team.

Jayasuriya recalled the circumstances under which India had sent its team here to play during the conflict when West Indies and Australia refused to play here.

The government had accepted India’s invitation for a special series after West Indies pulled out of scheduled matches, Jayasuriya said, noting that India played here during the conflict to prove that Sri Lanka was safe.

"We never expected to win all matches played in India. It was wrong to blame the Sports Minister for the debacle. The tour was finalised after the Selection Committee, the players and the Captain of the team had agreed to tour India. We have to expect both victory and defeat. We have provided players with everything that they asked for."

Deputy Postal Minister Jayasuriya said that players tended to make various statements after having experienced defeat. "Players know their mistakes. I as the Chief Selector take the full responsibility for the loss we experienced."

DNA MP and former Sri Lankan captain Arjuna Ranatunga participating in the debate said that Sports Minister Mahindananda Alutgamage should accept the responsibility for the debacle. The former national cricket captain alleged that the team had been sent there to appease the Indian Cricket Board.

Ranatunga said: "We should not play without a proper schedule or game plan. Decisions such as the one to play in India just to please Indian cricket board will lead to the Minister of Sports being called a puppet. Have we received any money for playing in India? Sports Minister should reveal that in Parliament. We have succumbed to the pressure of Indian Cricket Board. The Sri Lanka Cricket has become a den of thieves."

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