Conflict is not something that is confined to only Homo sapiens. Conflict is common to all living beings — big, small or in micro forms. Yet, the difference between the man and the beast also is defined at this point. The human kind through travails of time have grown into a being who could understand [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

After the Colts war, another big battle looms at HQ


Conflict is not something that is confined to only Homo sapiens. Conflict is common to all living beings — big, small or in micro forms. Yet, the difference between the man and the beast also is defined at this point. The human kind through travails of time have grown into a being who could understand the repercussions of conflict and the damage it could bring in and at the same time has learned how to use a thing described as wisdom – the faculty that is more powerful than conflict.

Yet, history explains that the beast in man has survived and as a result conflict also has travelled along with the beast overpowering wisdom.

That piece of philosophy was explained to understand the conflicts, the undercutting and the drawbacks that have hit Sri Lanka’s cricket which is about to enter a chaotic era triggered by a set of power hungry people with tunnel vision.

This particular subject has been discussed before and it is being discussed now and if I am not wrong it will once again be the subject at the post-mortem.

Generally what transpires at a club AGM does not even hit the coverage page of a newspaper. If it is to appear in the newspapers a devoted insider who has connections with the press would personally see to that it gets published.

Nevertheless, about a month ago, one of my contacts while discussing another subject said “There is something bigger than the SLPL flat tyre or the SLC elections. Just wait and see what is going to happen at the Colts Cricket Club annual general meeting”. At this end of the phone I nearly choked with laughter. I asked, “How on earth can a club’s internal issue going to be bigger than the SLC polls?”
The voice at the other end said: “There is going to be a showdown between SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga and SLC Vice President K. Mathivanan. Only one man can win this race and either losing the plum could have that rock-the-boat effect – and even some others may have to jump overboard just for survival”.

Knowing the love-hate relationship between the two SLC heavyweights, I made it a point to follow the developments brewing at Havelock Park.

Then the next thing that I learned was, true to my contact’s words, the issue had developed out of proportion. The club hierarchy had put the two contenders to a side and got them to agree upon a third man — Chaminda Mendis – a present national selector — to take over the chair. But this proposed solution lasted for only a few hours. The bout began again between the two heavyweights and both were back on the road to contention.

The issue also had a history behind it. Though they tolerated each other, insiders knew it was only a love-hate relationship between Mathivanan and Ranatunga. At the last Colts AGM, Mathivanan, who had been the President of Colts Cricket Club for the past twelve years, told the membership that he did not intend continuing as president and named businessman Rohantha Fonseka, a longstanding member of the club, but, not a cricket playing member, to take over the hot seat at the end of his reign.

Ranatunga during the twelve years held on to the post of vice president of Colts Cricket Club. Cinders lay under the carpet and when it came to the run for presidency of the club this year, Ranatunga came forward, with the backing of important senior club members with cricketing background. Yet, the forecast was it was going to be a clean run for Mathivanan.

Yet, with a day to go for the elections there was an about turn. Mathivanan not only pulled out of the race, but also resigned from the post of Sri Lanka Cricket vice president. When he resigned he burst out with a barrage of accusations and even went to the extent of saying that Sri Lanka Cricket is run by a ‘Mafia’.

At the same time there were reverberations about a ‘mysterious’ call received by Mathivanan that prompted him to resign. And the next morning the leader of the opposition also asked questions about this mysterious call that prompted Mathivanan’s resignation.
By Saturday morning things had taken a further change in the mould, when Mathivanan said that what prompted him to resign was personal reasons and also there was no reference to any Mafia and even denied that there were any calls that prompted his resignation.
In the aftermath of this drama, there are a few names floating around in the cricketing circles to fill the vacant position at the SLC. They included former SLC President Upali Dharmadasa, former vice President Asanga Seneviratne, Shammi Silva, who is a Thilanga Sumathipala loyalist, and a fourth name that still is behind the curtains.

Now the question is: Will there be a Special General Meeting to fill up the vacancy? The talk behind the curtain is that if so, who is going to win. An insider explained: At Sri Lanka Cricket there are five individuals who have the control of 100 or more votes within their grasp. That is the real Mafia in Lankan cricket today. What happens at Sri Lanka Cricket – ‘unless someone is air dropped’ – the verdict goes according to who the majority of these five individuals back? So even at this SGM, if it ever takes place, the chair will be occupied by the individual who has the backing of the vote holders and the scales now are tipped towards Shammi Silva. If this happens both vice presidents of the SLC would be from the Thilanga camp. Then the SLC President Jayantha Dharmadasa would go in one direction, the two vice presidents in another direction and Nishantha Ranatunga who is the politically strongest in a third direction..

Yet look at the bigger picture. The SLC executive committee is mostly manned by persons who have not indulged in the game or have played at a certain level. The people who have represented country in cricket in the executive committee are less than a handful, if at all. But in reality they run the game of cricket in the country.

At the same time in the post- 1996 (World Cup win) period; the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka went through some structural changes with well qualified past cricketers being employed at senior positions to run the cricket affairs of this country. The CEO was to be given the task of representing the country at world cricket forums. Then there was a cricket development manager post which was also filled by a past national cricketer and the list grew longer and longer every day.

Ironically, though the cricketers were placed in various crucial points, still the game is run by half cricketers or individuals who do not know the weight of a leather ball.

This is where wisdom comes in. Even reluctantly we admit that cricket affairs in countries like England, Australia and South Africa are run more cohesively and professionally. We do not hear about Dharmadasas or Dalmiyas running the game in those countries – or for that matter the secretary of the executive committee.

In England, Australia and South Africa, the officials may have their own share of differences, but, those boards are run more professionally and with a lot of accountability. That is why cricket in those countries have the wherewithal to manage on their own.
Once, Nishantha Ranatunga went on record saying that he wanted to run Sri Lanka Cricket in the mould of a blue chip company. If it is to happen so, even he must be ready to step aside and remain as the elected secretary and let the cricketers whom they have appointed to run the game. The paid executives must not act like mere messenger boys who say yes at every turn and fall ill when the tide is too rough. They must run the show.

Then there would be accountability. The cricket would be run by a set of professionals who have played the game and understand the game better. Even at the world forums it would be cricketers who occupy the Lankan slot. If not the same Mafia who holds the block votes would continue to ruin Lankan cricket till it halts to a grind.

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