SRI Lanka Cricket has been a hot topic of conversation for most of this year, due to the massive financial mismanagement that has finally caught up to the institution, with even the Government refusing to back it any longer.
Lending a ray of hope, Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage said on Tuesday that the current financial crisis at Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) would be resolved by February next year.
He has said that 65 per cent of the payments due to the Sri Lankan cricketers would be paid within the next two weeks and that all payments would be completed by 15 January next year.
The explanation by all accounts was that the International Cricket Council (ICC) has agreed to give US$ 2 million and the Sri Lankan team coach and the cricketers would be paid with the monies.
The players haven’t been paid since the World Cup with SLC owing Rs. 340 million as payment to the cricketers and the coach by September this year. According to Aluthgamage, steps would be taken to make a payment of Rs. 240 million in the next few weeks, making the burden slightly easier to bear.
SLC ran into debt of over US$ 32.5 million since financing the building of three international cricket stadiums in Hambantota, Pallekele and Colombo to host 12 World Cup matches. A decision that itself needs to be questioned since there was little need of three new international stadiums when Sri Lanka already had sufficient venues that could have been upgraded at much lower cost.
However, according to the Minister, SLC is faced with a financial crisis because the ICC has taken four instalments amounting to US$ 13 million at once. Despite these reasons, one is forced to consider that the financial mismanagement and politicisation of SLC has roots deeper than the World Cup and this was simply the climax of a situation that has been festering for many years.
Cricket boards around the world seem to be facing challenging times with the Australian and South African boards running into contentious situations, with the former actually sparking off speculation that it will sack itself. This is a clear indication that SLC along with other cricketing bodies around the world need to seriously reconsider their governance and independence in order to keep the game vibrant.
Even though the Minister has insisted that the financial situation will be eventually brought under control, he has not outlined how the SLC will prevent any future cases of mismanagement. The shadows have been gathering for a while and in a country where corruption is rife, it takes special effort to be named the “most corrupt institution,” as was pointed out by Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE) Chairman D.E.W Gunasekera.
Already the people who are vying for the top post at SLC do not have the best of credentials, with allegations of corruption levelled against at least one candidate. This raises the concern that transparency and good governance will remain elusive for SLC unless strong measures are taken to rectify the situation at least now.
How an organisation raises itself from chaos is the ultimate test of character and it can only be hoped that SLC can turn its humiliation around to become a fitter leader for the passion of Sri Lanka.