Too many horses running: Can SLC avoid an interim committee?

Monday, 16 March 2015 01:53 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Leonard Ratnayake Come a World Cup, all eyes are on cricket. However, not all of them are directed at the game being played out in the middle because there is large interest growing over off-field affairs, especially those revolving around the cricket administration. Sri Lanka Cricket’s Annual General Meeting on 30 April to elect new office bearers is termed as the most democratic of cricket elections to be held so far.   After almost 20 years, the Sri Lankan cricket team is only just finding the right spirit and form to bring back another world cup and there are too many horses running to the hot seat in cricket. Incumbent President Jayantha Dharmadasa, former President Thilanga Sumathipala, incumbent Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga and World Cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga to name a few. Out of the lot, Nishantha Ranatunga has gotten the newest rumps to contest for the SLC’s top seat, although being the incumbent Secretary he seems to have enjoyed more powers than the rest at the SLC. When I knew him he was one of the simplest men to share a tea under a hut but for some reason he became the most influential figure in the country after the arrival of the Rajapaksa family. Under a different regime his candidacy would be tested for all the homework he had done at the club level for the development of the game.   However, following the expression of interest by Arjuna Ranatunga to contest the cricket polls, Nishantha had declared that he would withdraw from the race and support his brother. Soon after his glorious retirement from the game, Arjuna Ranatunga lost the cricket elections in 2000 against Thilanga Sumathipala with several accusations of corruption against the latter following the sacking of his brother Dammika from the post of CEO. Later during his interim tenure in 2008, Ranatunga’s bold and honest character did little to help him survive in the post. Being elected in 2013, versatile businessman Jayantha Dharmadasa is seeking another term in office. He had also enjoyed a two-year interim tenure in 2005. Together with Upali, the Dharmadasa brothers have governed the country’s cricket for almost eight years and since 2011 it has been them who have occupied the seat, hence the upcoming polls should be a harvest period for their development programs for cricket. In a true democratic context, for someone like Thilanga Sumathipala, who has been there at the top seat three times earlier, there should not be any obstacles to contest again.   However, his candidacy or victory is always short-lived as Sumathipala is everyone else’s rival in cricket polls and they would do anything to knock him down. Nonetheless, with his mastermind programs in cricket development locally and internationally, Sumathipala still claims the biggest voter base among cricket clubs. Arjuna Ranatunga’s 1996 Cricket World Cup victory not only followed the ousting of visionary Ana Punchihewa from cricket’s top seat by his two vice presidents but also brought in permanent shareholders to inherit the country’s cricket; the Dharmadasas, the Sumpathipalas and eventually the Ranatungas. Above them was the Head of State Chandrika Bandaranaike, who also interfered in cricketing matters from time to time by appointing interim administrations with vested interests.   However, after a string of different interim administrations in cricket, President Mahinda Rajapaksa was able to resolve the country’s other hot issue by reinstating democracy in cricket elections in his own way. He shrewdly offered interim terms to the Ranatungas and Dharmadasas while managing to keep Thilanga Sumathipala away from the cricket elections in order to ensure so-called democracy in cricket by avoiding interim administrations. (Source: