'We need transparency and accountability' - Warnapura
Bandula Warnapura, who is on his way out as Sri Lankan Cricket's director of operations, has said that the country needs a cricket-development base before harbouring visions of producing the best cricket team in the world.
Warnapura, Sri Lanka's first Test captain, has been involved with SLC for the past eight years (as director of operations) and worked under the administration of elected as well as appointed bodies. "My belief is that until SLC is completely transformed into a 100% cricket development base with transparency and accountability we will not get anywhere. Today it is not a cricket-development base, but a power-development base."
Set to take over as the development manager with the Asian Cricket Council, Warnapura urged Sri Lankan administrators to forget their difference and come together for a common purpose. "People who have fallen out with each other must get together and work towards the development of this game immaterial of names or clubs," he said. "If we can do that part only we will develop and achieve to become the best in cricket. A good example is Australia. Their cricket is the best because their administration is the best.
"There should be a proper structure where each post is given in black and white. Nobody should be taken outside that. We don't have a structure that is why anybody can come in. SLC doesn't have any guidelines for employing people. It is very loose. That is why politicians try to get their people in and the right person for the right job doesn't get in. This is a big drawback. The present system is an advantage for people who want to get their own people in to have it loose like this."
He was also critical of the present voting system which forced SLC to bend over backwards to help individual clubs, all with a vote in mind. "The clubs have also got used to playing cricket with SLC money," he said. "If you don't give them money they say they won't play. A club tournament is like having branches of SLC. SLC gives everything to the club for what? Just for one or two votes. There is no commitment from the clubs. They pay huge amounts of money for players but to play in the tournament matches they want money from SLC. All this is because of the present voting system.
Warnapura, a towering figure in club circles in Sri Lanka, was saddened with monetary concerns over-riding team loyalties. "Most of the players today don't have a feeling towards the club that they play," he said. "It is because of the money which has come in and the perks that they are getting. At the end of the season you find players wanting to change clubs for the sake of money. Even provincial tournament the players must have a feeling towards the province."
He was also concerned about the provincial set-up, one that was affecting outstation cricket in the country. "From what I see these outstation clubs and schools are feeder grounds to Colombo schools and clubs. Based on that we must make sure we provide the basic facilities for the youngsters to develop. Until such time we sort out the provincial set-up we have to make sure we give enough facilities to outstations. We talk about outstations clubs today but most of the boys are practicing in Colombo. We have to make it stronger to avoid it. We are going in the right direction at the moment but it will take another 3-5 years time."