SLC under the spotlight

Wednesday, 30 May 2018 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

With Sri Lanka Cricket elections set to take place on 31 May, like clockwork, matters long swept under the carpet have slowly but surely begun creeping back into public discourse. 

Thilanga Sumathipala’s legitimacy as a candidate for SLC presidency, with his well-known familial links to the country’s gambling industry, has once again been bandied about in the spotlight. 

Nishantha Ranatunga, with an infamously checkered history himself, is also a candidate for the post and has gone so far as to petition the courts to halt Sumathipala’s trudge towards an inevitable consecutive election win - on what grounds though, is up for speculation.

In the midst of all this, SLC has also been mired in fixing controversies both domestically and internationally. A match-fixing case involving Panadura SC and Kalutara PCC has been under the media’s glare as of late, with it coming to light that SLC had for four months been sitting on a ministerial report explicitly implicating high ranking officials at both clubs - as well as an SLC Executive Committee member - in the affair. A year and a half on from when the allegations first came to light, SLC last week commissioned its third independent inquiry into the matter, which will hopefully bring this saga to a satisfactory conclusion.

That laboured journey towards the truth has been brought into stark contrast by the swiftness with which the cricket board has looked to address allegations brought forward in a recent Al Jazeera documentary titled ‘Cricket’s match-fixers’, which purported to show that two Test pitches in Galle had been doctored for the benefit of bettors in 2017 and 2016. After the documentary aired over the weekend, SLC scarcely wasted any time in going into damage control mode. 

First, an emergency ExCo meeting was called, where it was decided that SLC would offer full cooperation to the International Cricket Council’s investigation into the matter. And even though SLC was told by the ICC to abstain from conducting an investigation of their own, such was the desire to clear the name of Sri Lanka Cricket, that the board outsourced a separate investigation to the Police’s Criminal Investigation Department. 

On top of this, the three individuals named in the documentary, despite not having any formal charges brought against them, were suspended by SLC until the end of the ICC investigation. Even the Stadium Manager at Galle, who was not named in the documentary, is being transferred as SLC don’t want any suspicion ahead of South Africa touring in July.

In a nutshell, SLC’s response to the Al Jazeera investigative piece was exemplary and completely above board. Which only serves to make a mockery of the snail’s pace with which the Panadura/Kalutara match-fixing issue has been handled.

When questioned as to why the board had not taken action since January - when the last ministerial report was handed to them - it was claimed that they had been busy with other affairs such as local government elections and the Nidahas Trophy.

Such lame excuses aside, it does warrant the question, does SLC only take swift action when it’s a story with international implications, or is it only when they genuinely feel like they have nothing to hide? Either way, SLC’s unhesitating reaction to these Al Jazeera allegations has now set a precedent, which they must be held to during any further scandals going forward.