Has SLC derailed women’s cricket? | Daily News


Has SLC derailed women’s cricket?

Just when newspaper conglomerates like the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Ltd (ANCL) have treaded into an area which was exclusively for schoolboys for 40 years and are trying to broaden the horizons by recognising the performances of schoolgirl cricketers and bringing them on par with the boys, Sri Lanka Cricket has dealt a terrible blow to the girls’ future by failing to extend the contract of Apsari Tillakaratne, convenor of women’s cricket for the past three years.

Apsari’s contract expired in June this year and according to her the responsibilities of looking after women’s cricket was then passed onto Asanka Gurusinha who was heading the High Performance Centre at Khettarama Stadium. However Gurusinha’s contract with Sri Lanka Cricket expired on August 14 and as it was not renewed it is learnt that he has returned to Australia.

Currently women’s cricket is like a rudderless ship in mid-ocean with no direction and Sri Lanka Cricket has to take full responsibility for the sad state of affairs.

Just as schoolgirl cricket was beginning to blossom it seems that SLC has nipped the flower in the bud by not extending Apsari’s contract or appointing someone else to continue her good work done in the past three years.

As a result the Big Matches introduced for girls’ schools and conducted with success in the first two years did not take place this year and the formation of the Development Squad after the completion of the provincial under 23 tournament has been kept in cold storage.

The situation worsened after the SLC election when the current set of office bearers were elected to office.

“I was invited to this position by Thilanga (Sumathipala) in 2016 when he was president. He wanted me to come and do something for women’s cricket. I was directly working with Mr Mathivanan who was handling domestic cricket and the president. After they left I was asked to work with Gurusinha and he was handling women’s cricket. No one asked me anything and I was not called for any meetings and I was totally ignored,” explained Apsari.

“When I was appointed convenor I was asked to overlook everything including women’s cricket but because they didn’t consult me for national issues concerning women’s cricket I didn’t go. But when the national team lost I was unfortunately the target for criticism whereas I had nothing to do with them,” said Apsari.

When her contract came to an end and there was no response from SLC Apsari said that she had to go to the CEO to find out about her future. “I am very sad because no one spoke to me from SLC I had to go to the CEO to find out what my position was because my contract was coming to an end. He said that he was not aware of it. So I just closed my office and came home.”

What Apsari fears is that all the hard work and sweat they had put in the past three years will be brought to naught if no one continues with the work they have began.

“When I took over only a few clubs were playing and we managed to create a pathway so that every girl from anywhere in the country could join the national team,” said Apsari.

“In my first year I managed to bring two girls to the national squad as there was a very big gap and we didn’t have youngsters and, eight to the Development squad. In 2017 there were 17 girls and I requested SLC to give them a small amount of money to cover their costs. It was very successful I am very sad to see that if there is no continuity all my hard work for the last three years will be wasted. It is a very sad situation,” Apsari said.

In the past seven years or so the SLC has built up a rather nasty reputation of hiring and firing of its employees so that today they find themselves in a position without a head coach for the men’s national team. Due to their rather amateurish way of handling professionals Sri Lanka lost the services of two good international coaches in Geoff Marsh and Graham Ford, two men of repute who could have been of immense benefit to the team.

Will women’s cricket which was being given a fillip from the grassroot levels by Apsari take a nose dive because of the lackadaisical attitude of some SLC officials?

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