Sidath Wettimuny

Sri Lanka Cricket interim committee chairman Sidath Wettimuny has stated that the country’s cricket future lay in the hands of its stake holders.

“There is a limit to what we can do as members of the interim committee within a short time frame,” Wettimuny told The Nation.

“Within this period we hope to make some sensible decisions and assume the stake holders will co-operate otherwise there is nothing we can do,” he said.

The interim committee was appointed last month by Sports Minister Navin Dissanayake on the grounds of corruption and malpractice by the previous administration.

At a meeting with the stake holders early this week the Minister had assured them that elections would be held by January next year which meant that the Wettimuny-led interim committee will have barely six months to fulfill the tasks they hope to achieve.

“We should structure our cricket in such a way that there is stiffer competition at every level, that’s the principle of it. More quality cricket is the key and how to get there is the idea,” stated Wettimuny.

“Mahela (Jayawardene) has made a proposal which is a good one. We have to get the timeline going to have it ready by the end of the year to set it in motion.

“I hope to have a meeting with the stake holders and explain this concept and try and get them to buy into it a long term solution to help our cricket. A big responsibility lies in their hands,” he said.

“Like the 19th amendment where the two sides got together and agreed for the betterment of the country. Likewise all these stake holders who are split into so many sides must sit together and say this is what is good for Sri Lanka cricket, let’s do it. They can put it on trial for a year or two and see how it works.

“Let the clubs get involved in managing cricket. Club administrators should become head of provinces and then work themselves towards a top position in Sri Lanka Cricket, not come to hold positions by throwing money or come through politically strong connections. It has been the practice over the years.”

Wettimuny said the core issue as he saw it was that the clubs felt that their prominence would be reduced. “That’s my gut feeling. When there is a provincial tournament they feel there is something above them. It’s very unfortunate.”

The former Sri Lanka Test opener said that he has already got the cricket side of things in motion.

“We’ll have the indoor nets and swimming pool at R Premadasa Stadium finished within the six months and hopefully get work started at Pallekele and Dambulla as well,” said Wettimuny.

“We got a trainer for the national team (Michael Main), Champaka (Ramanayake) is handling the bowling and the selectors have been given a clear message which Kapila (Wijegunawardene) is handling very well.

“We also have a super soft skills program going which is an opportunity for the young cricketers to educate themselves. They are given 11 areas of knowledge like etiquette, speech (talking in front of a microphone), grooming, yoga, IT skills, cricket history etc. so that they go out more confident to face the world. It’s a weekly program for all cricketers from the senior team downwards.

“Most of the cricket based things are done. The key is to consolidate and not for the next guy to come and undo it,” he said.