Sports - Sunday Musings

Law or no law, the dirty games in sports will go on

If you have been among the spectators at any popular local cricket encounter there is one slogan that you may have not missed. Generally it comes when a batsman is on song and hammering the bowling attack and has just hit a boundary. The slogan goes as: “We want another one just like the other one.”
Nevertheless the same slogan can be used to woo the present cricket administrators also.

In the run up to the 2011 World Cup, there was a hue and cry about the preparation for the cricket spectacle and the then cricket administration was accused of misappropriation and mismanagement. It was a case of the media -- both electronic and print -- shouting out loud about the shortfalls and the then administration coming out with cover-up stories. At one point a TV channel went to the extent of countering a person touting World Cup tickets right opposite Sri Lanka Cricket premises.

Crunch time for the new Interim Committee chief. So much to do in a small time frame, but, he should look out for the real helping hands. Pic by Ranjith Perera

Then there were accusations that certain items given to the local authorities by the International Cricket Council had ended up in the wrong hands and never reached the intended destinations.

However, the World Cup 2011 was conducted without much hassle and more so the world authorities even went to the extent of complementing the wickets that the matches were played on. Ironically it all culminated in the SLC ending up empty pocket. It was obvious something had gone wrong and the ship was sinking.

This was followed by reports of investigations and other actions to be taken, but everything happened the way things occur generally in Sri Lanka – that is sweeping the bones under the carpet.

This tale of woes was dealt with by Sport Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage by relieving the administration led by former Sri Lanka leg spinner Dandeniyage Somachandra de Silva.

The minister then appointed a fresh Interim Committee led by well known businessman Upali Dharmadasa. In 1996, Dharmadasa captured the hot seat of cricket administration after he was elected for the first time as president of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka, replacing the then BCCSL head Ana Punchihewa just two weeks after Sri Lanka won the Cricket World Cup.

Unfortunately, when he came to the scene for the second time, he was handed over the crown of local cricket embedded with two ominous thorns. The first was he was given only six months for his administration prior to the ICC stipulated elections and the second was the administration stood on empty coffers and bank overdrafts.

Down the grapevine it was not clear who actually would get the chance of running for the chair – Upali or his brother Jayantha Dharmadasa – another ex-head of the cricket institution. But, unlike Upali whose initial term in the chair was as an elected person, Jayantha was the first head of this (almost permanent) Interim Committee that has been running unbroken since 2004.

Though we have some idea as to who is going to be the opposition, we still do not know for sure if the last ousted elected head of the SLC, Thilanga Sumathipala, would come out himself as the contestant or he would appoint another ‘Mohan de Silva’ to run on his behalf. That is why persons with block votes are precious to the present administration and they are being nurtured with all possible privileges and lap dog status.

Over this development came the launch in Colombo of the next big cricketing event that is going happen in Sri Lanka -- the 2012 ICC T-20 World Championship. Once again we hear the same old story. There are allegations of persons pilfering ICC souvenirs which were meant to be distributed among the 175 or so guests who attended the launch at the Ceylon-Continental.

Now….now….now …..We all were under the impression that the previous administrators had to vacate their seats because of allegations of malpractice or questionable actions. We remember the present administration even promised to investigate certain allegations which were highlighted by the media during its inauguration. But nothing happened.

The 2012 T-20 launch was conducted by the ICC yet, SLC was very much a part of the proceedings. We suggest that the SLC could take the initiative and probe the alleged ‘souvenir’ incident and expose the person responsible for it.

Then unlike the previous administration the present lot can begin their T-20 run with a clean slate.
Yes, we also see through the tunnel that persons who began the launch may also want to extend their stay and want to be in their seats when the 2012 T-20 takes place in Sri Lanka. Well! They are trying to cite the provisions in ICC stipulations to justify their claim that they can go on till 2013. If so they better begin to look under their carpets rather than try to sweep the bones under it.

On this same scenario our sister newspaper Lankadeepa carried a two-page advertisement inserted by the Ministry of Sports requesting the people’s views on the proposed 40 point Sports Policy of Sri Lanka.

On surface it looks good and the subject covers almost every aspect of sports other than the conduct of the people who are going to implement them. We remember the then Sports Minister K.B. Ratnayake (1973) introduced the Sports Law to Sri Lanka to combat certain situations that prevailed at that time and according to that timeline it was a roaring success. Yet, it contained certain clauses which were good for that era, but, woefully inadequate to deal with the present predicament or to check moves by politicians or their cacophonies who want to make use of the loopholes in the law to their advantage.

That is why we say, any law which is enacted today for to meet today’s needs can be abused or misinterpreted tomorrow; so please be very careful.

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