Jayantha Dharmadasa - an entrepreneur par excellence | Daily News

Jayantha Dharmadasa - an entrepreneur par excellence

It was at the 14th floor at Nawaloka Hospital where I met my former boss, he stood still for a moment before he greeted me as was his custom, ebony in colour, clad in his customary cream he just looked magnetic He was none other than Jayantha Dharmadasa the owner of Nawaloka Hospitals. The leading private hospital, despite owning the plum hospital in the Island he has 14 other companies under his belt which is a unique achievement. In spite of all his business accomplishments there was something else that ran in his blood ‘cricket’ and he also mentioned to me that “his love for cricket was pristine with no strings attached.” As a matter of fact this affinity to cricket has also taken root with Upali Dharmadasa, his brother another past big wig in the cricketing circles of Sri Lanka.

Jayantha was of the view that Sri Lanka should be capable of producing world class cricketers which occurred in the recent past but as of now there has been a dearth.

His view was that the number of clubs playing in the big league should be curtailed to 6 or maximum to 8, to make it more competitive so as to produce cricketers of the calibre of Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Sidath Wettimuny etc. Jayantha’s argument was that if well-established clubs like the SSC and NCC could foster lesser known clubs like Galle and Saracens, the latter would benefit due to the fact that the infrastructure of the bigger clubs are much better. To reinforce his argument Jayantha mentioned the fact that SSC has 3 or 4 top notch players whereas Galle has none and the mixing experience would definitely rub off on the Galle players enabling at least a few of them to reach top level. Pumping money into clubs without the bare necessities would be a futile exercise stressed Jayantha.

He has been harping on the above fact right along but unfortunately it has fallen on deaf ears, which is a pity.He too is not worried about votes and noted that cricket will suffer due to this, not only cricket but otherwise too, this has been the bane of our country.

When focusing on the selectors, Jayantha was of the view that selectors should be given the liberty to attend matches so that they can concentrate on the job in hand, e.g. they should not be part timers and also the fact that they should be adequately compensated so that they can attend all the matches without a hassle.

Jayantha also queried about, the awkward fact “why selectors should report to the Sports Minister.” The normal form is that the selectors report to their respective cricket higher ups, likewise in Sri Lanka they should report to Sri Lanka Cricket and otherwise it looked lopsided.

In his tenure at the helm of cricket affairs Jayantha had a cricket committee consisting of Arjuna Ranatunga, Ranjan Madugalle, Graeme Labrooy and Asantha de Mel whose meaningful suggestions were well accepted by Jayantha and according to him 95% of the issues were ironed out as a result. Asantha de Mel also came in for praise from Jayantha stating that he talks straight and had a long term plan. Incidentally Asantha De Mel was bold enough to state that Angelo Mathews was not suitable for one day cricket which is a fact.

Jayantha was spot on when he mentioned that Sri Lankan cricketers needed a psychologist stating that there was a mind problem among our cricketers. This is true when one looked at the last two ODI’s where our batsmen were within touching distance of winning them. Thisara Perera and to a lesser extent Kusal Perera played two blinders but unfortunately they were unable to put the icing on the cake. As Jayantha agreed only a wee bit of fine tuning is required and we have the ODI batters to beat the best in the world.

Handling of fame was another issue that Jayantha put across meaning that young cricketers who get quick riches and fame with it were unable to handle them and as a result they go overboard. Etiquette and handling interviews were the two other issues that cropped at the interview, when our young talented cricketers travel abroad and face interviews they must have a translator standing by otherwise unfortunately they look sheepish in front of the cameras. It really is a pity that these young talented guys get stumped at the interviews.

Nowadays managers and coaches are changing at the drop of a hat and he was averse to this situation and stated that there should be permanency in relevant positions to stabilise the rocking boat. Jayantha observed that the CEO of Sri Lanka should be more active in pursuing fixtures with the ICC so that Sri Lanka gets an advantage at the end of the day.

Jayantha the entrepreneur has employed 16 national players in his organisations just to play cricket for the country and Aravinda de Silva, Hashan Tillakeratne and Asoka de Silva springs to mind. It has to be noted that younger brother Upali Dharmadasa too had a hand in the above.

Switching lanes and delving into the success story of Jayantha Dharamadasa, I have to put it in a nutshell due to space restrictions.

Jayantha was working with his father the late Deshamanaya H.K. Dharmadasa (Nawaloka Mudalali) and his brother Upali Dharmadasa and he disagreed over a certain matter and came to Colombo 11 years ago. At the start Jayantha found the start a hard grind, there were times he did not even have a vehicle (just imagine driving around in a swank Mercedes Benz at Peliyagoda and coming down to earth with a thud). Jayantha admits to the fact that his great father the Nawaloka Mudalali’s business acumen rubbed on him. However Jayantha had his own thing going for him and that was the “never say attitude” and his motto “If something is got to be done today it has to be done now.” This busy body signs 200 cheques a day and his table is clear after that.

His daily routine is quite simple no tamashas during and after office hours, Jayantha gets up in the morning at 6 a.m. and watches the previous days teledramas and then reads about 6 dailies including one in Sinhala, spends 8 to 6 in office, gets home by 6.30 pm then attend about 3 different functions and back to bed by 11.30 pm. He is also accessible only through the mobile day or night even when he is abroad. Jayantha has two sons and a daughter who helps him with his work and they themselves have their own businesses as well. I found Jayantha Dharmadasa to be a simple guy who knew his “onions inside out.”


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