of the KINGMAKER
Had the great William Shakespeare been living in
the twenty first century he surely would have taken a stroll down
the streets of Colombo to write the modern day version of the family
feud between the Capulets and the Montagues of Verona. However on
this occasion it would not take on the dimension of a love affair
like in the world famous saga of Romeo and Juliet, but just the
strong desire of the two families of the Dharmadasas and the Sumathipalas
in their battle to have custody of the “golden bat’
which gives them an opening to untold power and world fame through
the game of cricket.
In the post Gamini Dissanayake era of cricket,
besides the mere one year tenure by Ana Punchihewa the rest of the
years have been overseen by either of these two families. However
during this period there were also short stints which were ruled
by government appointees in the guise of interim committees, in
which the last one was also a Dharmadasa himself.
Approximately a year ago the minister of sports
Jeewan Kumaranatunge scrapped the then Sumathipala - controlled
Sri Lanka cricket administration and handed it over to Jayantha
Dharmadasa and now the minister has called for fresh elections to
be held on the 15th of July and they say the latter is ready to
take the bull by the horns now.
Ironically both leaders of either camp have their
own impediments in contesting the elections and both will have to
get their names on the “all clear list” if they so desire
to contest the election. Now down the grapevine we hear that the
Sumathipala clan will come out with their time tested second-in-command
of Mohan de Silva while Jayantha Dharmadasa is making a bid to come
out as the candidate for his camp with the necessary blessings from
the minister of sports.
Taking this whole act into consideration it is
also intriguing to delve a bit into the history of the SLC politics
and see how the wheel has turned so far.
In this game of power one may have the necessary
credentials of the lust for power and the money that goes with it
but, not if you do not have the most important ‘kingmakers’
to back you.
At the time of the untimely demise of Gamini Dissanayake
who was a then cabinet minister and the person who was largely responsible
for Sri Lanka getting the final nod to being selected as one of
the ‘big ones’ in world cricket, the then Managing Director
of Pure Beverages Ana Punchihewa came in as the uncontested choice
to head the destiny of cricket which was not such a hot item at
Yet to win a Test match abroad, Sri Lanka was
one of the minnows that had promise, but, were yet to prove themselves
by a long shot. However at the same time people in the know say
that it was the ‘kingmaker’ as he later came to be known
who was largely responsible for the elevation of the former President
to the hot-seat. Prior to the elevation the ‘kingmaker’
also had seen to it that the then vice-president took over the mantle
of the former’s ‘down-South’ club before he was
given the seat at the promised podium.
When Ana Punchihewa was installed as president
of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, Upali Dharmadasa
(The younger brother of the President of the present Interim Committee
Jayantha Dharmadasa) and Thilanga Sumathipala were the two vice
With the passage of time Sri Lanka registered
their first overseas win in New Zealand and in the rush won the
World Cup too. But, with the flagging fortunes of president Punchihewa
in his own work place, saw the ‘kingmaker’ turning his
allegiance and within the space of fourteen days of winning the
World Cup, Ana Punchihewa lost his seat at the next BCCSL elections.
Nevertheless the kingmaker’s agenda was
different. Upali Dharmadasa too did not last long. This was the
beginning of the end of the Dharmadasa-Sumapthipala alliance with
Sumathipala taking over as the next president of the BCCSL.
With his advent as president the Sumathipala faction
were soon to assert their influence through every nook and cranny
in the officialdom of cricket. So much so there were others of cricketing
authority and persons of great political influence who contested
the Sumathipala regime and failed, the reason being the vast majority
of the cricketing machine including the kingmaker backing the incumbent
Now the scenario has changed. The Last Tsunami
took a heavy toll of the kingmaker’s own backyard. The then
policy makers wanted to change the venue to safer grounds, while
the current IC is gearing up to revamp the lost entity. Lo and behold
now it is reported that the kingmaker has changed his allegiance
In normal civic society one is able to hold on
to only one vote. However it is said that this kingmaker holds the
key to six votes on his own.
This tale which was unfolded just now is as interesting
as one of the Shakespeare dramas. However truth will out on July
fifteen and let the best man win.
In conclusion the irony is that specimens like
this kingmaker thrive under these circumstances even though their
intentions are not built on the purest of final goals. On our part
we who love the game of cricket hope that the future will hold the
key to the exposure of these elements and the game will once again
revert back to its pristine glory with the right elements occupying
their rightful places including the ones who have already declined
to be a part of the machinery under the present circumstances.