It is a fusty of cliché but even the allegory of how a new broom sweeps clean has its uses.
Well, Yahaluweni, as long as the new broom doesn`t sweep old debris under the carpet and allow it to become forgotten. That is always a real danger. The International Cricket Council did that with the early warnings of the match-fixing malpractice in the 1990s and look how that blew up and left rotten egg on the ICC`s image.
But Arjuna Ranatunga, aka `Cap`n Cool` could also soon find himself ladled with a new handle (not one of the broom variety either) in `Cap`n Clever` as he negotiates the first weeks of his tenure as chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket. He became an astute captain of the national side and as such earned much international respect.
This is a reminder that he not only has a major role to play in sorting out the weak areas of the game in this country. He fills, for a while at least, the position of President of the Asian Cricket Council and in March will need to attend the ICC meeting as the country`s member of the council and other ICC roles. All of which means there is far more on the surface that the job of running the sport locally.
This last named role carries a lot of prestige as well as work. There is no doubt, with his playing background expertise and mindful of his own pathway to the top, he should add value to position. Also, he has Duleep Mendis, the SLC chief executive, who will fill in the background of what he can expect.
Yet, the man at the top can only be as effective as the team he has around him. The plans to bring the popular and highly respected Michael Tissera back into the system, along with Aravinda de Silva, can only but help create the right environment. As it is, Tissera and Sidath Wettimuny have played a role as part of a committee in the redevelopment of infrastructures as the country`s Test and international venues.
All this, of course, is invaluable window dressing as the system works towards the 2010 World Cup when Asia have their third turn.
Ranatunga says that he plans to run the system until then. Two years though is not a long tenure when you think of the time he was captain the point here is that two years is about the shortest term available to put effective structures in place to see that they work. The planning is built around such long-term development ideas.
This is where the help of those he trusts, and those he knows, who will work for Sri Lanka Cricket and its advancement, becomes important. It is not a job for those with egos, to throw their weight around. It is a team game and as such the man in charge needs to know how his team works to achieve lasting success.
In this, hopefully, he will be able to retain some of the national selection panel for the term of his tenure. One of the problems in Sri Lanka and India is how all too often selection panels are changed: on the island because of some sports law decree. While the convener Asatha de Mel has been in charge since 2006, it would make sense to retain him in this position at least until the next World Cup. Maybe replace some of the others, but the convener is the man who has to deal with the captain, coach and the senior team management with forward thinking.
This is where continuity becomes so invaluable. Without it the long-term goals are all too often lost. When Wettimuny walked away from the position of selection convener in 2000 because of sports ministry interference, the longer-term aims were in part side tracked.
Now, in the early days of this column, in 2004, it surprise me that there was no national plan for the game. A design, that is, with demarcated caoching and provincial structures had been mapped out by Aravinda and was working. But when he was turfed out as vice-president of SLC by the interim committee, his format went with him. The result is the chaos at Under19 level that have been highlighted all too often been in these files last year and drew serious sniper fire because of the comments.
Ranatunga knows all too well, from his own experience, as does his senior playing days lieutenant Aravinda, and those he is bringing into the system, the value of quality coaching at school level. Far too often coaches value their worth on results and forget the talent factor. It is a universal problem and not just a Sri Lankan one. But the real danger in Sri Lanka is that talent is lost to the system as well as being wasted because of poor coaching management and lack of structures.
While the Sri Lanka team in Bangladesh didn`t do too well, there maybe comfort perhaps in the knowledge that Bangladesh are now in an under19 triangular series in South Africa and twice beat the hosts but lost to India. In fact, emailed results from South Africa indicates India have been quite dominant in this series.
While the move to have Aravinda coach the Under19 squad should have come sooner, he cannot be expected to perform miracles either. Those responsible for allowing the Under19 system to get into the current muddle need to be made accountable. And here you cannot blame the manager of the squad but the system through which the team was selected and coached after the 2006 Youth World Cup held in Colombo.
As the late Bob Woolmer once explained to anyone who listened when Plan A went wrong, it was back to Plan B that requires the `hard yards to earn success`. In this, he is so right. All the extra work in the nets and other training earned the rewards and built reputations, not invitations to the coach`s room to smoke and drink because he is bereft of ideas. It breaks down morale and respect.
They are like the cheap politicians with their coterie of thugs who charge in uninvited and beat up those who are honest and hardworking and are good examples of a system that tolerates mediocrity. These are the two-legged mongrels and jackasses that are allowed to run amok unchecked and cry `foul` when cornered and plead `innocent` when they are given a little of their own in return.
Cricket is the game for the people, not the so-called elite, and to devise (not device, which means something totally different and that a local comic had in one of their headline blurbs), a long-term national roadmap that outlines the future is the sort of clear thinking and environment the sport needs in this island nation.
Ranatunga has a team of genuine, well-versed and qualified people to run the structures that the SLC Cricket Committee has in mind. His plan to take to game to the schools and outstations that have been so long neglected, spreading it beyond the confines of Colombo, is a blueprint that needs to be supported by all. It is not a time for brickbats but endorsement for what he and his team plan to achieve.
Forget the 1996 World Cup success. That is only been part of this journey. For some, that windfall came far too soon. After all, Ana Punchihewa talked eloquently well into the night at the Culture Club in 1995 about turning Sri Lanka into a world power by the Millennium year. They were brave ideas and the plan was to upgrade country schools with facilities as a starting point.
He was jack-knifed from the system by politics and other so-called administrators eyeing bulging bank balances from they money that World Cup success would earn, tried to run the plan as if it were their own. And just how typical is that? Only the umbilical cord lacked the oxygen needed to allow it to grow and the scheme was dead long before the Millennium arrived.
This time the vision is back in the forefront of the long-term planning, but to get the coaching system right within two years may be asking too much unless the right people are placed in charge of this delicate scheme. Of course developing the `hard yards` as a way of developing and nurturing genuine talent creates many schools of thought.
All you had to do was see how Australia went about it yesterday. It proves the point that at Test level, anything can happen and it did.
Michael Clarke is better known as a batsman than a bowler and taking those three wickets to give Australia a 2-0 lead in this series leaves a bitter image of why India are failing. They have been left with a warped coaching system and Gary Kirsten, the man in charge sitting in Cape Town watching from afar while the man they could have had, John Dyson, is working on his West Indies plan.
As if a reminder, one of defining the memories of last year, popped up again on the TV screen last Tuesday night as an Indian channel showed 2007 highlights. This was of Yuvraj Singh and his six sixes off beanpole Englishman Stuart Broad at Kingsmead.
Lastly, before he headed for troubled Kenya last week, the Emeritus Bishop of Cape Town, Desmond Tutu, rededicated Newlands in Cape Town to commemorate the 200 th anniversary of the game first being played in South Africa.
What better way than a Test between West Indies, with most of the players whose roots are from the horrendous slave trade and the new South Africa. While the symbols of apartheid era are dead, there are those who still hoist the old South African flag to celebrate. Where else but at rugby matches would you find this blasphemous statement, giving distorted values to a discredited sport and those who run it.