Sometimes I wonder how this ship ever sails the way it does. Then when I come across a piece of news that talks about crossings of swords inside the den, I think the time has come for the ship to sink. But, it doesn’t. Yet, it never fails to astound me as this is a [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Different views, but SLC is united for cause of cricket: Mohan


Sometimes I wonder how this ship ever sails the way it does. Then when I come across a piece of news that talks about crossings of swords inside the den, I think the time has come for the ship to sink. But, it doesn’t. Yet, it never fails to astound me as this is a unique model that works on any given power on earth — wind, coal, electricity, raw fuel or nuclear power. Your guess is right; we are talking about Sri Lanka Cricket and the way it’s run.

At the same time, I thought I would direct my inquisitiveness towards a man in the executive committee. He is senior and experienced enough, yet at the same time is not shy of imparting with what he feels is right. Vice President Mohan de Silva, who once was at the helm as the President of Sri Lanka Cricket, has been in office long enough to know what is good for the goose and what really works.

Mohan de Silva explaining matters - File pic

We came right to the point and began with the creation. I asked him how this committee came into being. It was not the most democratic election, nor was it an all air dropped one. It met the cross section of the cricket officialdom halfway through as most of them came through the real election process while some did not. I asked him how a potpourri of this nature works for Sri Lanka Cricket.

Surprisingly the reply came promptly. Mohan explained: “I feel this system works very well for Sri Lanka Cricket. As you know I have come from the Thilanga Sumathipala camp to the executive committee along with two others. Likewise there are a few factions in the executive committee and they have their own thought processes and ways of looking at problems. Because of this, no faction gets the right to steamroll. There are checks and balances. Not that we do not have our differences. Sometimes they come out with a huge thud. But, nevertheless the whole team works with one objective — that is to nurture tomorrow’s game of cricket, today.

“For instance, (Selections Committee Chief) Sanath Jayasuriya last week wanted to send six cricketers to England ahead of the tour proper. This was going to cost a mint of money, but, to do this the executive committee approval was not sought. It caused a huge furore, but when things were explained in their right perspective, the ex-co approved the move. That is how it should work and it is working the way it should.”

The SLC vice president further explained that in the past there had been instances where certain ideologies prevailed because the entire cross section of the ex-co belonged to one faction. “Being in the game for the length of time that I have been I know the difference. When one works in this environment, there is more transparency.”

He said that since they received the Lorgat report, the SLC had been working on some of the drawbacks pointed out in the report and this process was started by the then SLC President Upali Dharmadasa. “One of the major projects that we are working is the new corporate image.”

Mohan de Silva claimed that in the financial sector SLC treasurer Nuski Mohammed had done a tremendous job and has put things into its perspective. He said that they have found out while working with the Government that some of the contractors had overcharged them and that once that was sorted out, they could bring down the outstanding by about Rs. 700 million. However, he reiterated that SLC would not be able to settle the outstanding Rs. 3 billion, and the Government would have to absorb it as one of its investments towards the game of cricket.

With a sigh of relief, de Silva said the national cricketers now had no burdens in their minds other than matters of cricket.
At the same time while complementing the selectors for doing a commendable job, he said that they had entrusted Jayasuriya with matters pertaining to national cricket. “Now there is a good flow of cricketers who are joining the national grid from the ‘A’ team and performing from day one. At the same time Marvan Atapattu has been given a chance to prove himself as a worthy coach and he has time till the end of the South Africa series. Meanwhile, there are some others who are also interested in taking up the job. So we have to take things as they come, but, we feel at present national cricket is functioning smoothly and it should move in the same manner till the post-World Cup era in 2015,” he said.

At this point we pointed out that although the national team was on course, the domestic structure was still finding its feet. The top cricket structure is torn between the club system and the provincial cricket system while the schools system is in disarray.
De Silva did not agree with the statement that school cricket was in disarray. He said: “We are working very closely with the Sri Lanka School’s Cricket Association and we have told them that our vision is not spreading the game for the sake of taking it to every corner, but to harness the maximum talent from where we could. We have infused Rs. 130 million towards the school cricket project, where we recognise and help the schools that produce cricketers with talent. For that we have obtained the services of veteran Sunil Fernando who along with the head of the National coaching academy Jerome Jayaratne, who is doing a tremendous job, has devised a way that budding cricketers from under 13, 15, 17 and 19 age groups are selected on a district basis and brought down to headquarters. There the junior national coach Roger Wijesuriya also has a look at them. In this manner, we have structured the junior level of cricket and train the youngsters for the challenges like the Under 19 World Cup. In this manner we have a count of the cricketers who are in the loop from a very tender age.”

Speaking about the club structure, de Silva stressed that they were very focused on its objectives. “We had a very successful Premier League Tournament this season, where the bowling and the batting performances were equally good. Likewise, the Super Eight tournament saw some very competitive cricket played on the field. Besides, a while ago we had a brain storming session where, instead of the SLPL and the Provincial Cricket tournament, we devised the ‘super four system’. We even may call it something else, but last year we had a trial and it was successful and it would be the tournament where the cream of the local talent test their wits against each other in a competitive tournament. It is for the T-20 segment.” de Silva said in conclusion.

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