Dharmadasa and Co. unveil election manifesto

Thursday, 14 February 2019 02:42 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Jayantha Dharmadasa  (second from right) speaks to journalists yesterday. Others from left are  Nishantha Ranatunga, Arjuna Ranatunaga and K Mathivanan - Pic by Chamila Karunaratne

By Madushka Balasuriya

 Presidential candidate Jayantha Dharmadasa and his camp yesterday outlined several proposals for Sri Lanka Cricket ahead of this month’s board elections, though the majority of an hour-long media briefing yesterday centred around addressing the more opaque idea of how to “Make Sri Lanka Cricket Great Again” - which also happens to be the camp’s campaign slogan.

“The main purpose of this alliance is to focus on bringing back the glorious days of cricket that won us the ICC Cricket World Cup & the World T20,” read a manifesto handed out to the media. 

“For nearly three years, cricket has been at its lowest state mainly due to corruption & mismanagement at an unprecedented scale, by the previous Executive Committee who were elected in 2016,” it continued.

“Allegations of match fixing and pitch fixing resulted in the ICC appointing its first permanent anti-corruption representative in a test playing nation, in Sri Lanka. Interference in team selection, ball tampering, financial mismanagement (including attempts to transfer SLC funds to off shore accounts) poor leadership by the team management and numerous other issues has caused our national team performance to deteriorate drastically, giving ICC a chance to label Sri Lanka as the most corrupt Test playing nation in the world.”

Running alongside Dharmadasa is K. Mathivanan and Arjuna Ranatunga, both of whom will be running for Vice President, Nishantha Ranatunga (post of SLC Secretary), Eastman Narangoda (post of SLC Treasurer), Hirantha Perera (Assistant Secretary), and Sedara Sanjaya Senarath (Assistant Treasurer).

The reality that many of these allegations aren’t unique to the previous administration - accusations of financial mismanagement and match-fixing alone have blighted SLC for over two decades - seemed to be lost on those on the podium.

“We handed over nominations because we really want to first, resurrect Sri Lanka Cricket from its current plight and, secondly, rule out corruption from SLC,” stated Dharmadasa. “We only want to talk about cricket-related matters, matters of mudslinging don’t interest us. Previous groups of people haven’t looked after Sri Lanka Cricket. They have done everything other than govern our cricket.” A section of the manifesto also drew attention to the “glory of our contestants when governing Sri Lanka Cricket,” drawing a direct cause and effect between the national team’s successes and the administrators at the time. When questioned over the veracity of such an implication, especially considering Sri Lanka’s 2014 Asia Cup and World T20 triumphs had come amidst a contract dispute when players had gone several months without pay from a board headed by Jayantha Dharmadasa, then-board Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga sought to clarify the situation.

“Not paying the players never happened with us. We put a scheme where they had to earn their money after performing. Based on performance we had a scheme, it was approved by the ExCo, recommended by the cricket committee and announced by me. These are the ways we get the best out of people,” said Ranatunga.

Ranatunga’s elder brother Arjuna, who famously captained Sri Lanka to their first and only 50-over World Cup win, meanwhile said he would personally look into the improvement of matters on the field if voted in, while leaving administrative matters to other members of his team.

“We don’t need captains, we want a team. No need to have tags. A lot of people wanted to have tags, but I’m not a great believer in tags. If the job is done that is the most important thing,” said Ranatunga.

“So you give us time and see how we perform. I’ll tell you, if we can’t perform, not like the other party, I’m not going to come in front of the voters and ask for a vote on the next election. We will have two years, I know what to do on the cricket path, they have to look after the administration path, and most importantly, I know for sure the money will be safe, which has been corrupted very badly in the last so many years.”

Going relatively unaddressed during the briefing were several strategic objectives for all forms of cricket both domestically and internationally detailed in the manifesto, as well as ideas on how to attain SLC’s financial objectives. While most of these ideas were more or less already being implemented to some capacity - such as the establishment of elite domestic coaches, investing in sports science, and enacting centres of excellence, to name a few - others were rather more progressive.

The elder Ranatunga in particular was keen to highlight the need for a more sound domestic and school cricket structure, noting that SLC’s current voting system meant the two vote allocation for school cricket meant that it had been neglected by previous administrations. Meanwhile a promise to introduce age group tournaments for women in district and provincial cricket was also a notable suggestion.

Sri Lanka Cricket elections are set for 21 February.