Sri Lanka’s sports minister on Monday blasted the national cricket team’s recent performances, saying the side was riven by politics and in “crisis”.
Mahindananda Aluthgamage vowed to deliver a stern lecture to the players when they return later this month from their tour of South Africa, where they last week lost the Test series 2-1.
“The Sri Lanka cricket team is in a crisis situation. It is very unfortunate,” Aluthgamage told reporters in Colombo. “The team is not clicking together off-field and it has shown in the results on the field.”
“Once the team returns, I plan to meet them,” Aluthgamage said. “I feel there is a lot of internal politics within the team that is spilling over to the cricket pitch.”
Since the retirement of bowling star Muttiah Muralitharan in July 2010, Sri Lanka have won only one Test match, though they did reach the final of the one-day World Cup last year.
Sri Lanka will now play five one-day internationals in South Africa starting on Wednesday, before heading to a tri-series tournament in Australia which also includes India.
The government has often been accused of meddling in the sport and recent uncontested elections for the cricket board were mired in allegations of interference.
Aluthgamage’s comments came after Sri Lanka skipper Tillakaratne Dilshan blamed his side’s inconsistent results on the island’s weak domestic scene.
“It is very difficult to find good cricketers. We have to correct our domestic structure. Coming from our club cricket to international cricket is a huge difference,” he said after losing the Test series.
Some players have complained about months of unpaid wages as the Sri Lanka board struggles with debts of $69 million after building two new venues and revamping a third ground for the World Cup.