Gearing up for Cricket Elections
By S.R. Pathiravithana
  • We are in the process of forming our team – Thilanga camp
  • Cricket bodies want me to be the head – Jayantha

At a time when the country is gripped with various types of elections, there is another election which is non-political, but just as vociferous looming. That is none other than the election of office bearers to the richest sporting body in the island – Sri Lanka Cricket.

The then Sports Minister Jeevan Kumaratunga dissolved the administration of Thilanga Sumathipala four years ago, a few days after the latter’s election to the seat for the third time on March 2005, on charges of financial misappropriation – a charge which was not probed in-depth thereafter. Since then, the premier cricket body has been run by an interim committee headed by Sports Ministry appointees.

Prior to that, Sumathipala nominee Mohan de Silva had been at the helm for one full term.This time businessman Jayantha Dharmadasa who replaced Sumathipala when Minister Kumaratunga appointed the interim committee and a nominee from the Sumathipala camp are tipped to be the main contenders at the elections, the date of which is to be announced by Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge in the coming weeks.

“We have not set a date as yet, but, dissolving this present cricket administration is one of our priorities,” Minister Lokuge told The Sunday Times. The Dharmadasa camp and the Sumathipala camp are on full gear preparing for the campaign.

Dharmadasa told The Sunday Times, “Apparently the time has come for an election to Sri Lanka Cricket. It has become very imminent. Several clubs, district and allied organisations have been requesting me to come forward as their candidate this time and I have taken that invitation very seriously as I feel cricket at present requires good guidance”.

When we tried to contact the three times President Thilanga Sumathipala, we were told he was at a meeting but his Public Relations Manager Ray Illangakoon spoke on behalf of the Sumathipala camp. He said, “We are forming our team. However, still our group has not decided as to who will be the candidate that will come forward on our ticket. No sooner we get a definite date we would announce who it would be.”

The incumbent Interim Committee Chairman Arjuna Ranatunga had publicly announced that he has no confidence in the present system of holding elections. The last time Mr. Ranatunga battled Sumathipala in 2003, the Lankan World Cup winning skipper obtained only eight votes.

Two years prior to that, violence erupted at the Lankan cricket headquarters in the aftermath of the 2000 elections when the then President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s uncle Clifford Ratwatte unsuccessfully contested Sumathipala.

Since the then vice presidents Sumathipala along with Upali Dharmadasa ousted the then president Ana Punchihewa, only thirteen days after Sri Lanka won the World Cup in 1996, the Lankan Cricket administration has never been hunky-dory.

Thereafter from time to time the governments in power have dissolved the elected body or reshuffled the interim committee on more than four occasions.

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