At a time when chaos is the name of the game, we would even feel a snowflake is like a gift from heaven. Yet, in tropical Sri Lanka, snowflakes are only confined to the television and in the minds of kids who follow Yuletide. Yet, in the midst of all these unpleasant experiences, the news [...]


SLC’s Anti-Corruption Unit is on its way


At a time when chaos is the name of the game, we would even feel a snowflake is like a gift from heaven. Yet, in tropical Sri Lanka, snowflakes are only confined to the television and in the minds of kids who follow Yuletide.

Yet, in the midst of all these unpleasant experiences, the news that Sri Lanka Cricket CEO Ashley de Silva delivered was most timely and welcome. Last week de Silva told the Sunday Times all work pertaining to the setting up of the Sri Lanka Cricket’s anti-corruption unit was just about to be a reality and it needed only attending to the nitty-gritties.

De Silva explained that the Sri Lankan version of the Anti Corruption Unit is now a reality. He said: “We are in the process of setting it up. Now the legislation stuff in ready and being revamped. We are going to advertise for the positions next week and we are defining their job descriptions. Then the ICC has nominated an official to be with the unit. All this means we are in the process of setting it up.”

Pointing out that there is a lot of progress taking place, the CEO said, “We are hoping to start the operations by January 15 next year. At present, through the interview process, we have to get the right people. However, in this whole endeavour, the ICC will be a part of it. The ICC also has given us an indication as to who would be working at the unit on a permanent basis. But, however, legislation wise it will take a little longer because the draft bill has to be passed by parliament. But I feel it will happen soon”.

When asked now that the administrative process is being under a period of abeyance where there is no elected executive committee set in place; would any new member who is elected try to put a spoke in the wheel of this process, de Silva replied: “I do not think so. Even the Sports Minister was very supportive of this project and backs it wholeheartedly. Besides that, this whole thing was mooted on the advice given to us by the ICC. So, the ICC is fully aware of the process and everyone knows how important this venture is, so nobody will want to discontinue it. Because everyone wants to eliminate this menace and make match fixing a punishable offence. So anybody who takes over the SLC is bound to support this move”.

In England, at present, the ECB has its vibrant anti-corruption unit. The ECB understands the continued risk that corruption poses to cricket. The focus of the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) is the prevention of corruption in domestic cricket, with emphasis on the following:

  •     Education
  •     Providing guidance and awareness to participants in the game

Collaboration and working relationships with the Professional Cricketers Association (PCA) and other key stakeholders such as First Class Cricket Clubs (FCCC), Women’s Cricket, FCCC Academies, the International Cricket Council (ICC) and other cricket boards

The guideline has been made in collaboration with the PCA and the Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (FICA), and forms a key part of participant education. It covers the three main risk areas of the Anti-Corruption Code:

  •     Betting on cricket
  •     Misuse of Inside Information
  •     Fixing

Ironically the Sri Lankan version of the FICA is not recognised by Sri Lanka Cricket.

However what has transpired at Sri Lanka Cricket could be termed as one of the best moves made by the national cricket governing body in recent years. Now, it is common knowledge that the ICC had been operating behind the curtain for a lengthy period, netting in the culprits — and already three former cricketers have been booked by the ICC ACU authorities.

However, the ACU bus will not stop moving at this point. The ICC has already interviewed several other cricketers and personnel and, in all probabilities, once the Lankan unit is set in place, most of the investigations would be handled over the local unit.

The Anti-Corruption Unit in Sri Lanka is a concept that we already had. The initial idea of setting up an anti-corruption unit at Sri Lanka Cricket was mooted during the time of Nishantha Ranatunga who was the then secretary of the cricket administration of Sri Lanka. He told the Sunday Times Sports this week: “Yes, we had a very vibrant anti-corruption unit at Sri Lanka Cricket at that time. It operated under retired Police SSP Lakshman de Silva who also kept a very close watch on the scene and the developments around it. However, when a new administration assumed power after us, the importance of the unit began to wean until such time Lakshman de Silva decided to call it a day. So, I must say during our tenure of our administration, we mooted the idea and moved it forward.

“However, if the present cricket administration is going to set up an Anti Corruption Unit in Sri Lanka with all powers to prosecute wrong doers, we would support it wholeheartedly. Taking into consideration of what is going around in the cricket circuit, espeically where local cricket is concerned, the situation is alarming. So setting up of a unit of this nature with the backing of the ICC is very encouraging”.

One of the first people to support this move was none other than former Ceylon and Sri Lanka cricket captain Michael Tissera. He said: “It is a very good idea and should have happened long time ago. Setting up a unit of this nature is the only way to curb this menace, and corruption in cricket should be made a criminal offence with severe punishment. Otherwise what will happen is they will indulge in it and once the ban imposed them is over, they will be back in business as usual.”

There are many arguments about how the SLC is moving forward without the guidance of an administrative executive committee. But, at the same time it looks as if the machine is chugging well enough without the interference of individuals who have more matters in mind than cricket while attending to the chores of the day-to-day affairs of cricket.

Well, there is a cricket committee which is looking after the cricket affairs presumably on a voluntary basis and they are burning the midnight oil ungrudgingly. Already they have changed the selection committee and are in the process of looking for fresh talent at the fielding and spin bowling departments. At the same time, it is learned that they are in the process of effecting many other changes, too.

The think tank behind this endeavour is SSC stalwart Michael de Zoysa. He is there in the SLC Cricket Committee as a member of a controlling club. At the same time even without the official blessings of the SLC, Ken de Alwis, who is the live wire of the Lankan version of FICA, is also a member of the Cricket Committee.

Seemingly now cricket is working well enough sans greasy hands mucking up the engine, yet, in an democratic world, it is the wishes and views of the SLC– I mean the elected body that is paramount and so much so the cricket elections now has been announced for February 7, 2019. Yet, we hope once they assume power, the Lankan anti-corruption unit will become stronger and invincible.

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