Aravinda de Silva says India benefit from financial power and Indian Premier League | india-vs-sri-lanka-2017 | Hindustan Times
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Aravinda de Silva says India benefit from financial power and Indian Premier League

Aravinda de Silva, former Sri Lanka skipper and hero of their 1996 ICC World Cup victory, believes the world body must back weaker teams to help them raise their game and ensure balanced battles.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Aug 09, 2017 09:20 IST
Aravinda De Silva believes the Indian Premier League has raised the standards of even grassroots level cricket in India.
Aravinda De Silva believes the Indian Premier League has raised the standards of even grassroots level cricket in India. (HT Photo)

The India-Sri Lanka Test series is proving to be the biggest mismatch in the history of their rivalry. And for former Sri Lanka batting great, Aravinda De Silva, it is a reflection of the widening gulf between the haves and have nots of the cricket world.

Aravinda De Silva feels the Indian team’s strength is related to the cricket board’s financial health. Except for Australia and England, no cricketing nation has been able to keep pace with the growth of the game due to the disparity in financial power.

“It gives me more pleasure watching a competitive game; it’s better to watch Federer and Nadal play than Nadal against an unseeded player.

“From a spectator’s point of view, they would enjoy a Mumbai Indians versus Bangalore Royal Challengers playing, that is where the real fight is,” said Aravinda de Silva, bemoaning the mismatches in international cricket.

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The Indian cricket team derives its strength from the Indian Premier League (IPL), said Aravinda de Silva. “The IPL has helped them (Indian players) in playing against the best players in the world. They are able to bring in all the international players because of the monetary capability of the Indian cricket board. They all bring in the best knowledge into one country because all the best coaches are there in one competition.

“So you have the best knowledge, best competition in one package. That enhances your talent from a very young age,” the former Sri Lanka skipper said in a chat at his sprawling residence in Colombo.

Aravinda, the dashing batsman of the 1990s nicknamed ‘Mad Max’ scored 20 Test centuries and 11 one-day hundreds and was a key member of the 1996 World Cup-winning side.

He said financial power has helped lift grass roots cricket in India. “Even from the grassroots level, they have to be up to a certain level, so they (youngsters) work hard knowing what their (required) level is. It’s credit to them for doing it and coming up with such a concept (IPL).

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“Australia, England, they have kept up with that because their ability to raise funds is also good.”

Virat Kohli’s No 1 ranked side have won eight successive Test series and are in line for a series whitewash against Sri Lanka.

Aravinda de Silva feels the onus is on the International Cricket Council to help weaker cricket boards maintain standard by supporting their cricket projects on merit.

Recently, the ICC financial model was reworked. As the main market for the game, the BCCI gets the biggest share.

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“To develop and be a strong cricketing nation, you need to be financially strong as well. The ICC needs to look at it seriously, and make sure some of these (revenue) distributions are done in a manner where some of these countries are also taken up to a certain standard to be competitive, because it’s unfortunate some people even with talent (don’t get the facilities).

“The sport has changed into a business and a commercial venture; so, you need to look at it that way.

“The ICC is the one who should fill in the gap for the rest of the world, create something out of the box, not to just dole out cash, but fund on a project by project basis.”

Comparing the top batsmen of this generation, Aravinda De Silva, who was Man-of-the-Match in Sri Lanka’s 1996 World Cup final victory, said his favourites were Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. “Virat (Kohli) and AB are the two guys I will pay to watch.

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“The way they play, they are entertaining, (and) they play proper cricket shots. AB is sometimes a bit unorthodox but bats with lot of confidence and arrogance; he will take on any attack, whether it is pace or spin. Whether it is the longer or shorter version, they are consistent. Of course, (Steve) Smith, (Joe) Root and (Kane) Williamson have done well, (but) they (Virat and AB) have something special.”