Sri Lanka’s demoralised cricket team faces an investigation into alleged “scandalous behaviour” that includes parties and squabbling during a dismal tour of New Zealand, the sports minister said on Tuesday (January 12).
Dayasiri Jayasekera said he had been handed photos of national players attending all-night parties just before crucial matches against New Zealand, who achieved a virtual clean sweep in the tour.
“There was scandalous behaviour,” the minister told AFP. “They have not only attended drinking parties till three and four in the morning, but there was a lot of tension and friction among members.”
Sri Lanka went to New Zealand as defending champions of the shortest form of the game, but slipped to third position in the rankings this month behind West Indies and Australia after their resounding defeat in the Twenty20 matches.
Sri Lanka also lost the Tests 0-2 and the one-day series 1-3 to the hosts.
“When they return, I want to call the team and along with Thilanga (Sumathipala, the new Sri Lanka Cricket president) try to find out what happened,” said the minister.
“My main concern is the breakdown in discipline. When that is affected, the team naturally performs badly,” he said of reported squabbling between players, including the captain, and the coach.
Jayasekera said Sri Lanka would also focus on finding a long-term coach after Marvan Atapattu quit weeks before his contract was due to expire in September last year. They appointed Jerome Jayaratne as interim coach, initially for the home series against West Indies and then for the New Zealand tour.
Jayaratne, 49, had been head of coaching at Sri Lanka Cricket but his elevation to oversee the national team was seen as a stop-gap arrangement.
Atapattu was the seventh Sri Lanka head coach in the past five years. The 45-year-old took over the team in September 2014 after Englishman Paul Farbrace abruptly quit months earlier to become England’s deputy coach. Since 2010, Trevor Bayliss, Stuart Law, Rumesh Ratnayake, Geoff Marsh and Graham Ford have also held stints as Sri Lanka coach.
Jayaratne, a former Under-19 international, had headed the coaching department for seven years.