Cricket in Sri Lanka has the potential to serve, entertain and shock the public with their activities both on and off the field. The sport serves the public when hordes of young cricketers, leaving schools, find slots in club and national teams that contest domestic and international tournaments respectively. But all this depends on how stable the cricket’s governing body in the island, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), is. Right now, as at today, the thought of conducting the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of SLC is enough to give the players and the cricket loving public the jitters.
When Nation last spoke to Director General of the Ministry of Sports K.D.S Ruwanchandra he said that he was confident that the cricket elections will be held in a free and fair manner. This is a nation which offers many methods when undertaking a task, even if there already exists the best way to do the job. This is possibly why candidates contesting for the post of president in the SLC Executive Committee (EXCO) differ so vividly when talking about a common goal like developing cricket.
The hot favourite for the SLC’s top seat Thilanga Sumathipala has spelt out a six pillar plan where he aims to invest funds wisely, develop cricket and establish an administrative system which covers all aspects of the game. However, his critics (Sumathipala’s) point out that he has in his team individuals who served the last interim committee that administered the sport using a system which they term as ‘not good’. Sumathipala, who is also the Deputy Speaker in Parliament, has the backing of the most influential decision makers of the country and is tipped to pull through at the elections scheduled for January 3 (Sunday).
Former World Cup winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga has bowled a doosra in the form of voicing his concerns against the manner in which the Sports Minister’s appointees have carried out the supervising of pre-election activities. The Nishantha Ranatunga camp points the finger at Sumathipala saying that he should obtain ICC clearance. However, Ruwanchandra, when contacted said that whether ICC clears Sumathipala or not doesn’t curtail in any way his chances of being a candidate for posts at the SLC AGM. “We are conducting the SLC AGM in keeping with the law prevailing in the country,” he explained.
The Nishantha Ranatunga camp hasn’t harped much on their election manifesto. But they have made it clear that they will focus on developing school cricket, a segment in this sport which they say doesn’t receive the patronage of the ministry of sports and the education ministry.
Right now Sri Lanka is struggling in their tour of New Zealand. The visitors have already suffered a series whitewash in the Tests (2-0) and lost the two opening matches in the ODI Series. To add to their woes the Sri Lankans have also seen their ODI Rating take a beating. The tremor created in the Sri Lankan cricket circles as a result of the SLC AGM seems to have been felt by the ‘Lions’ in New Zealand.
Less than two weeks ago the media reported an incident where cricket board election candidates were involved in a fisticuff inside the Ministry of Sports. There are concerns about more incidents taking place at the venue of the cricket election. Ruwanchandra said that he expected no incidences on election day, but added, “We have, however, requested for some policemen to be on duty that day.”