Proposes bringing commercial managers under players code of conduct

President of the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Deputy Speaker Thilanga Sumathipala spoke to the Nation addressing the recent controversy, surrounding the commercial managements employed by national cricketers, specifically about an individual named Charlie Austin and allegations of undue influence exerted on the SLC, the Sri Lankan Team, and the selection of players to it whilst also proposing potential solutions regarding the issue.

Q     : What is the SLC’s position concerning this?

Discussions have been going on in this regard for over 15 years now. Commercial managers of players are professionals. Even though there is no evidence of such, there is, however, a perception thanks to the harping on about Charlie Austin and the conduct of those who previously when in power chaired and ran the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka and Executive Committee of the SLC that the commercial managers of players are interfering with and/or influencing the selection of players for the Sri Lanka Cricket Team, the management of the SLC and the Captain of the Team. Commercial managers who represent the players are not involved in the day to day activities and affairs of the SLC. This perception is, however, bad for the game. It is not good for the credibility.

This matter has been taken up by us at the level of the International Cricket Council (ICC). A solution proposed by us is to have the commercial managers of the players also brought under a code such as the code of conduct for players (the SLC’s Anti-Corruption Code for Players and Player Support Personnel). The SLC is of the view that the public confidence must be brought back and for this we feel that we have to take measures to restore the lost credibility founded on the feeling among members of the public that commercial managers wield influence on matters pertaining to cricket at the national and international level. Players can disclose and declare when it comes to matters relating to commercial managers. There is nothing wrong with having commercial managers. They are professional people. Cricketers retire between 30 and 35 years of age and therefore they have to exploit the commercial opportunities that come their way when they are at their peak. These are international players. There is nothing wrong with that.

Q     : What are the steps that have already been  taken in relation to the matter?

The SLC has given a report to Minister of Sports, Dayasiri    Jayasekara. The report contains information and details including the number of such commercial managers, their names, the names of the players they represent amongst other aspects. We are looking at and for a solution. We are talking to the players and discussing with their managers. It is better to find a solution than airing matters publicly.

Q     : What do you make of the comments and statements made by some former players?

I do not really want to talk about it. How does one select a team? It is stated that the captain is biased and the selectors are biased. Even though the perception is such, there is no such thing. When senior players including former captains make such a noise, people think that there is in fact and indeed something.

I do not want to get involved in any controversy or issue. Yet, we have to lift the public’s confidence which has presently gone down. We have confidence in the captain and the selectors. Former captain Angelo Mathews captained the Lankan Team to a whitewash against Australia last year and was in form this year, too, yet stepped down. If the Team was performing in form nobody would be talking about this kind of nonsense. Now we have as captains Dinesh Chandimal (test) and Upul Tharanga (one-day internationals and T-20). They are valuable players and assets of the SLC. We cannot afford to have the Teams and the players focus taken away from the task at hand by this nonsense. What will happen then if they are made to leave as a result of this nonsense? This is my view.