Lanka’s fall from grace in cricket administration | Daily News


Lanka’s fall from grace in cricket administration

We were once the proud examples on the cricket field with our electric fielding that was the envy of every cricketing nation and power batting that won us the 1996 cricket World Cup. Every nation looked up to us as a role model country to emulate. But somewhere down the line despite the outstanding achievements on the field by our cricketers, the cricket administration began to deteriorate with businessmen and politicians getting into the stream of holding office and getting the taste of power and knowing what it is to be the head of the most powerful and rich sports body in the country – Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

The amount of cash flowing into its coffers attracted individuals with shady backgrounds like a swarm of bees to a hive.

So it is no surprise that the International Cricket Council (ICC), the world governing body for cricket has rated Sri Lanka as the most corrupt cricket nation, which is a stigma which this beautiful nation will have to live with.

To make matters worse the ICC has even rated the local cricket body Sri Lanka Cricket as worse than Zimbabwe Cricket’s administration. To what low levels has our cricket administration fallen since the heady days of the late Gamini Dissanayake whose charismatic approach won the country its much belated Test status in 1981?

Sports Minister Harin Fernando said that he had been shown a confidential report in his recent visit to Dubai to meet ICC officials that supports ICC’s evaluation of SLC as “an administration that is corrupt from top to bottom”.

Minister Fernando said, “We met Alex Marshall, Head of the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit. Unfortunately, Sri Lanka has been ranked as one of the top worst countries where sports corruption thrives. This is nothing to be proud of. The ACU also informed me that even the mafia is involved in Sri Lanka Cricket corruptions.

“They mentioned that even Zimbabwe Cricket is not corrupt as much as Sri Lankan Cricket. According to the ICC, Zimbabwe’s administration was better, but Sri Lanka Cricket is corrupt from top to bottom.”

The Minister further said that the corruption was more to do with cricket administration than players. “They told me that the problem was not limited to bookies, but even the local game's links with the underworld."

So it is no surprise that the Sports Minister wants to postpone the scheduled SLC elections fixed for February 7 to ensure those vying for the office-bearer posts are clean and free of corruption. Whether he will succeed in buying time to clean the Augean stables the ICC will decide next week. Already Sri Lanka has got two postponements for their AGM from the ICC when Faiszer Mustapha was the Sport Minister.

The SLC elections that was originally scheduled for May 31 was thrown into disarray after a court of appeal, adjudicating on a petition filed against then SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala by SLC presidential candidate Nishantha Ranatunga, found that the election protocol had been flouted.

The petition itself had sought to disqualify Sumathipala's candidacy on grounds of his familial relations to Sri Lanka's gaming industry. While refusing that request, the court found constitutional discrepancies in election procedure during their deliberations, and subsequently suspended the elections. Since then, the court has lifted the ban, but the ongoing court case against Sumathipala has meant elections have failed to materialize.

Sumathipala has been accused of violating ICC rules by holding office despite alleged links to gambling, a charge that he denies.

The ACU’s effort to crack down on cricket corruption has resulted in four former Sri Lanka cricketers coming to being suspended.

Former Sri Lanka cricketer and Galle pitch curator Jayananda Warnaweera was suspended in 2016 for three years after he “failed” to cooperate in an ongoing anti-corruption investigation against him.

Then in 2018 three former Sri Lanka cricketers were suspended by the ACU - captain and ex-chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya was charged for failing to co-operate with a match-fixing probe and concealing information, former fast bowler Nuwan Zoysa was charged and suspended with articles relating to match-fixing and encouraging players to influence results and fast bowling all-rounder Dilhara Lokuhettige was suspended with match fixing charges during the T10 League in UAE last year.

The Minister said that the ICC will be giving an amnesty period for all members of the Sri Lankan cricket team to come before them and provide any relevant information on corruptions which are taking place in Sri Lanka Cricket. The specific time period will be soon known.

The absence of a proper rule to curb match-fixing in the country has resulted in Sri Lanka failing to bring the culprits to book.

Bearing this in mind the Minister said that the government is planning to incorporate match-fixing in the Sports Law and that it will be done within the next two months.

“Advice has been sought presently from the Attorney General’s Department on the matter and the policies with regards to the new changes in the Sports Law which will be sent to the Legal Draftsman’s Department soon. After the proposed Sports Law is drafted, I will be presenting it to Parliament. This law is for all sports in the country, not just for Sri Lanka Cricket,” the Minister said.

Notwithstanding the lean run our national cricket team is going through at the moment the situation has been further compounded by this latest evaluation of the country’s cricket administration as the most corrupt in the world by the ICC. Where are we heading as a country?

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