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Sri Lankan tour a debacle? - John Lonnergan
See also Sri Lanka Defeat Australia

Thought I'd contribute to the Soap Box thanks to the current debacle of a tour by the Aussie Mens side. Please print on your web site if you feel appropriate (ICW: For this forum, all such articles are appropriate, so we've published it):

I would just like to voice my concern over the AICF's decision-making in regard to the current tour of Sri Lanka by the Mens' Australian Extreme team. The tour was originally supposed to happen last year, but was postponed due to political issues in Sri Lanka. Since that time, 3 of the original 12 players have had to pull out, leaving only a squad of 9.

I have it from a reliable source that the people in charge of the tour enquired with "about 4 or 5 people" to see if they would be able to tour, but they didn't have any luck. However, rather than going through a due diligence process and contacting each State delegate and asking them to try and find suitable candidates, the decision was made to tour with just the 9 players.

As Murphy's Law is alive and well in areas where you take risks, 2 of the players clashed heads in a game against Sri Lanka 'A', and are unavailable for the 2nd Test. Therefore, with only 7 fit players, it is likely that one of the touring staff who did not compete at the Open Nationals will pull on an Aussie shirt and play.

In defense of the AICF, there were difficulties in finding more players in that:

1. You would have needed to be able to get time off work at quite short notice

2. You would have needed $3000 handy to spend on the trip

3. You would have needed a current passport

4. You would have needed to have competed at the Open Nationals to be considered as good enough

5. In past years they have found it difficult to get replacements (although not impossible) when people have pulled out and there is only a couple of months notice.

This is a difficult set of criteria to meet, however the AICF need to understand that in order to keep at bay the wolves who constantly criticise their actions, they need to implement processes and visibly demonstrate their management skills and reasons for decisions. People will still complain, but at least the AICF can point to the process they implemented and their reasoning, and if anyone has complaints then they can offer advice to improve the process so it is constructive criticism.

I for one am able to qualify for all 4 criteria above (except number 4 as I had to pull out this year, but I have played enough to warrant at least a bench berth), and I am sure there are at least a handful in each State who would also have qualified, and given their right arm for the chance to represent their country. It would also help the players in the 9 that have gone if they were part of a full squad, and therefore felt they had the backing of the AICF in representing their country in a fully fledged tour, rather than what might be conceived as a "friendly" tour.

A cynic might even suggest that the AICF saw only sending 9 players as a way to possibly allow Sri Lanka a win or two so that they become more involved in events like the World Cup (ICW: A Cynic? Around here? Wash your mouth out!!). God forbit a political motive would ever move into the pristine sporting arena.

I trust that my efforts to show both the pro's and con's to the decision, demonstrate that I am merely trying to offer constructive criticism in order to improve the organisation of our sport.

John Lonergan
Southern Cobra's (Open) and SA Monkeys (Masters)
24 January 2002

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