Is all going awry? One wonders if Sports Minister Faiszer Musthapha is keen to have the cake and eat it too. Seeming what the majority of the elite panel of cricketers who keep their heads above their shoulders do not go seeking for glory. Already they have had their share of glory within the precincts [...]


Musthapha II — Minister has the power to change the cricket constitution


Is all going awry? One wonders if Sports Minister Faiszer Musthapha is keen to have the cake and eat it too. Seeming what the majority of the elite panel of cricketers who keep their heads above their shoulders do not go seeking for glory. Already they have had their share of glory within the precincts of the playing field and most of the time off it too. As a result they are not going to stake their reputation to give a breathing space to a cause that has already lost its sheen.

Sidath Wettimuny, has been highly critical on cricket administration

Initially it looked as if Minister Musthapha was doing the right thing and was keen in redeeming the flagging reputation of Sri Lanka’s cricket, which is now caught at crossroads. Administratively cricket is in a mess and it is no secret and no explanations are needed. Cricket wise, everything is in abeyance. I feel even their most expensive merchandise – coach Chandika Hathurusinghe must be wondering, “hey! What’s going around me?”

All what cricket wants right now is stability and that could only be achieved through some balanced action and sane thinking.

Just imagine a few minutes after Minister Musthapha announced his desire to round-up Aravinda de Silva, Mahela Jayawardena, Muttiah Muralitharan, Roshan Mahanama and Kumar Sangakkara and request them to look into cricket affairs till things are settled to go ahead with the election, the plan fell apart. First Mahela Jayawardena tweeted that he was not interested in buying time for someone else. Then Roshan Mahanama told the Sunday Musings, “I heard about something of this nature only through the media and that’s not the way things should happen. Any if I was going to come in I would have to come on my own terms and not someone else’s. Anyway I am not interested in such an ad hoc arrangement. Then Muttiah Muralitharan also joined the fray and said ‘no I am interested’. Already three out of the five pulled out even without a formal meeting.

Definitely something is wrong and we at this end feel that there should be an end to this masquerade and have a fresh constitution for Sri Lanka Cricket so that it could be saved even in this eleventh hour.

Sports Minister Faiszer Musthapha has become a topic of interest lately - Pix by Amila Gamage

So I sought the opinion of veteran Sidath Wettimuny on it. When I met Wettimuny initially he was rather hesitant wondering if we were only trying to build sand castles on the sea shore; but, yet again he grimaced and told himself that this effort was for the game that we all love.

Our question was: Under the present context do we really need a change in the SLC constitution when no one could challenge the supremacy of the stakeholder. Wettimuny replied, “All this boils down to the will and the courage of the minister. Everybody knows what should be done, but nobody wants to do it. Only time will tell whether this new minister has the vision – I am sure that he has the vision and the know-how of what has to be done — but, whether he has the courage and the political will to do it is the question. Sadly when you are in a political party you have to listen to your party so what you do is not necessarily is best for cricket, there are other factors that come in.”

Wettimuny added, “It’s all good if he could it. If he could affect the changes he would go down in history as someone who did something or he would remain as someone who just ran with the wind.”

Then taking upon the question whether the Sri Lanka Cricket Constitution cannot be changed because the stakeholder is supreme, Wettimuny explained “That is absolute rubbish. When I was chairing the Interim Committee, the ICC gave in writing to the Prime Minister to keep the interim committee and change the constitution, they would fully support and extend technical support as well – it is there in writing. So the ICC fully supports the change of the constitution because they all know — we all know — that we have a crazy constitution with 147 votes. So a constitution which lends itself to vote buying, corruption and all that goes with it has to be changed. There is no other country in the cricket playing world that comes near the number of votes that we have. India with 1.2 billion people has 46 votes. Their supreme court has said change it and bring it down to thirty. We have this amount of votes and that is our problem. But I know for a fact that there is legal knowledge to say that through an act of parliament we can change the constitution of Sri Lanka Cricket. Until it is done, we will always be in this messy situation of interim committees, dissolution of boards, court cases and it will go on and on.”

In the midst we also asked sports law expert Panduka Keerthinanda if the number of votes could be changed through an act of parliament. He said, “Yes, it could be done. The Minister only has to bring in a resolution under section 31 and 41 of Sports Act 25 of 1973. There the minister could amalgamate certain votes. Do away with so many clubs which are inactive – meaning scientifically reduce the numbers to around 35 to 45 instead of the staggering 147 at present”.

Then we came back to Wettimuny. We asked him, “Now with the election looming ahead the question would be who would hold the Sri Lanka Cricket Administration together, when the road map to recovery is set up? There is a school of thought that interim committees are ineffective and they serve no purpose. Yet, with the verdict going the way it is and the court requesting to make amendments to the cricket constitution it is bound to take time. Apparently it would be necessary to look for another Interim set up.”

Wettimuny added: “My opinion is that Interim Committees have come and on most occasions they have cleansed the system and gone. But, they never had the time or the direction from above to do what’s needed to be done. Even today to get over the situation an interim committee could be there, but they should have clear cut direction from the government with the support of the ICC. Yes, still you can clean the place up. May be through an act of parliament, may be in six months. Change the constitution and change this whole set up and then go in for a workable solution that would do more good for the game of cricket.”

We pointed out that during the tenure of the previous Sports Minister there was a huge cry about the falling standards and then a committee that comprised none other than Aravinda de Silva, Mahela Jayawardena, Kumar Sangakkara, Anura Tennakone and entrepreneur Hemaka Amarasooriya was handed over the task of resuscitating the game. There too there was talk about the setting up of a new constitution, but for about six months they discussed but, nothing concrete came out of it?

Wettimuny replied, “It was only lip service. I am sorry they put in a lot of work, but nothing came of it. The plain and simple reason is that at that time the then Sports Minister did not have the will to go through with it. I gave the copy of the proposed constitution to the then sports minister and he said that it was very good. I gave a copy to the Prime Minister too, and he was very happy with it and the ICC gave the clearance to go ahead and do it. But, nobody did it – at least the minister didn’t do it.

“Now it is upto the new Minister of Sports to get active. The direction has been given. If he is to do it, either he has to get the backing of the party or the president and needs to realise this is a task that has to be accomplished in a proper manner. If not, we will go on with this mockery where people trying to bring in obstacles of different sports and mar the smooth flow of governance.”

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