“Oyez, Oyez, Oyez ….. Hear ye……The kingdom of Sri Lanka (Cricket) is now glad to pronounce that the President of Sri Lanka Cricket Upali Dharmadasa is now awake and is ready for business”. From his six-month-long slumber on the hot seat of local cricket he has now awoken just like the fabled Sleeping Beauty did. [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Oyez, Oyez… the man is awake

SLC chief should voice his opinion on U-19 World Cup disaster; lacklustre show at SLPL

Upali Dharmadasa has suddenly become omnipresent.

“Oyez, Oyez, Oyez ….. Hear ye……The kingdom of Sri Lanka (Cricket) is now glad to pronounce that the President of Sri Lanka Cricket Upali Dharmadasa is now awake and is ready for business”. From his six-month-long slumber on the hot seat of local cricket he has now awoken just like the fabled Sleeping Beauty did.

When one looks over the boundary walls of yesterday one can see: When he got the reins of cricket from D. Somachandra de Silva, Dharmadasa ruled the last leg of that interim committee that went on and on with several heads and agendas. And then once the Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage pronounced that there would be the long delayed cricket elections and there would be an elected body, Upali Dharmadasa and his team soon converted themselves to become the prospective candidates in clean white clothing. Likewise he also promulgated that in case he being elected as the president all his actions would be transparent to be the least.

The original composition of that Dharmadasa team somewhat changed from the drawing board to the action fraction, but in reality there was no election as such because his main challenger Thilanga Sumathipala was out for a doosra that he had no answers to. Come what may! In the aftermath of the election or the promulgation of the office bearers there was a wedge imbedded between the fourth estate and the SLC president. His ‘accessibility’ became ‘inaccessibility’ and whenever a journo managed to pick his answer he was on an overseas call with a promise of a ring back. The last part of the promise was as good as waiting for Godot.

Now suddenly there has been a change of heart. The man who was known to be a good observer in his slumber is reported to taste from every pot on the fire and wants to know what ingredients have gone into the pot to make the curry. Insiders say that suddenly the SLC president has become omnipresent. More than that, he also has taken a liking to at least a section of the media. It’s good when they speak he is not on an overseas call…. Now we see.

Yet, there are some points that we cannot understand! Generally an organisation in the magnitude of SLC should be cohesive especially in the top management. First the Haroon Lorgat Files: When we learnt about the arrival of the ex-ICC CEO to look into the matters of the SLC we were rather sceptic. We thought to ourselves how and where Lorgat could fit in to the Lankan melee, where dog eats dog and if given the chance, will do more than that.

In the same vein someone explained even in this melee, the presence of a man like Lorgat could make a change. Well! He is a man who the SLC is hiring at an expense of US$ 100,000 to work for twenty-five days and present a report that could have far-reaching effects in the domestic structure of Lankan cricket.

Yet, for an organisation which is inundated with debt and struggling for survival this is a tall expense by its standard. A concerned insider explained the bottom-line of the impending visit. “As you know there are some agendas down the pipeline that do not go down in tune with some members of the executive committee and people that matter, if you or I propose those could be squashed like mosquitoes by people like Arjuna Ranatunga who have played the game at the top or some others who tend to be against just for the sake of being against. Yet, a man like Lorgat is in the position to talk to all parties concerned and take also the opposing views and analyse them with the proposals which are at hand and arrive at a solution which could be looked into by all parties concerned”.

Ironically, the man at the helm of cricket and a part of the team who invited the South African chartered accountant is even more sceptical than us. It seems that Lorgat’s visit is a run on a tight rope. There is no guarantee that his observations or recommendations will be followed by the SLC, according to its president, Dharmadasa. He has gone on record saying, “Well, reports can be given. But reports have to be vetted properly”.

Yes, at this end, even we are against blind faith. But, a man of that standing could be more diplomatic in pronouncing his inner thoughts. At the same time persons of that standing do not yap about million dollar windfalls without proper backing to the statements. Just a moment from this end we meekly ask: Why spend a hundred thousand dollars that you could have used to settle an outstanding debt if you do not intend making an honest attempt to carry out the proposals. Why squash the egg even before it is laid?
At the same time there are matters that the SLC head could show displeasure of and voice opinion.

The Under-19 Australian excursion to the World Cup was the worst disaster in Lankan cricket in recent times. The Lankan teenagers joined Namibia to walk out of the tournament after losing to BANGLADESH and South Africa. The stories that are emanating from that episode are stinking. The truth is that the Lankan hierarchy had brought upon that shame upon themselves.If he is a real cricket lover what Upali Dharmadasa should do is to scream out so loud that there would be an open inquiry that is transparent and book the culprits and goal them.

The starless Sri Lanka Premier League is a disaster and is full of pockmarks. Even the very cricketers do not seem to be enjoying taking part in it as the franchise owners are side-stepping the player payments. Even the quality of cricket is a very poor relation of the Indian Premier League.  As a responsible leader Upali Dharmadasa can make a public statement on these happenings.

What has prompted this sudden “Red Bull” like adrenaline rush? Is it the talk about the next cricket election that is to come before the promised four year term which will be broken into two halves? Three cheers we hail his run. If any one does for the betterment of Sri Lankan cricket we are fully behind that minute fraction.

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