The customary rain that greets the beginning of the Under-19 Inter-School cricket season continues this season too causing a slight delay in the games, but this year, it has been overshadowed by a different hullabaloo. The standoff between Royal College, Colombo and the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA), which ignited last season, is still [...]

The Sundaytimes Sri Lanka

Royal-SLSCA crisis continues


The customary rain that greets the beginning of the Under-19 Inter-School cricket season continues this season too causing a slight delay in the games, but this year, it has been overshadowed by a different hullabaloo. The standoff between Royal College, Colombo and the Sri Lanka Schools Cricket Association (SLSCA), which ignited last season, is still stagnating with neither side ready to bow down.

Now, the saga has worsened over a letter.

Responding to an article published last week in the Sunday Times, Mr. M.T.A. Rauff, Assistant Principal (Co-Curricular) and Senior Games Master at Royal College said the school had all the proof to rubbish the claims of the SLSCA that they had not received a response to a previous letter sent by the Association over Royal’s relegation to Division II due to her withdrawal from the tournament last year.

The SLSCA announced that it had officially demoted Royal College to the Division II segment of its tournament, and Dilshan de Silva, its secretary, said that they have sought clarification from the Reid Avenue school, and were awaiting a response. On the other hand, Royal College Principal, Upali Gunasekara said that they are awaiting a response from the SLSCA to a reply they sent to the sports body on July 26, 2013.

“We sent the reply letter to the SLSCA no sooner we got a letter from them. But so far, we haven’t got any reply. We are waiting for the reply to make our decision whether to play (in the tournament) or not. It has been over a month since we sent our reply,” Mr. Gunasekara told the Sunday Times last week.

The Sunday Times this week produces a photocopy of the original letters not only addressed to the SLSCA and signed by the Principal, but with the acknowledgement of the receipt of the letter on the same day. The copy of the letter addressed to the Secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket Nishantha Ranatunga and initialed by the Principal is also produced. Another copy was handed over to SLC official Carlton Bernadus on the same day and acknowledged by an S. de Silva with the dated put down.

The SLSCA is taking up the position that the original letter was not delivered to their office, even though their office is located inside the same premises as the SLC, and that they had to get a copy from Mr. Bernadus, the Acting Head of Cricket Operations at SLC. An SLC source however confirmed that the original letter was delivered “immediately” to the SLSCA by SLC, i.e. on the same day.

“It’s a known fact that the SLSCA is located within the SLC premises. Whatever dealings the respective schools and the SLSCA have, should be officially done by them. The letter was sent to the SLSCA office, no sooner the SLC got it, and what happened afterwards is known to the school cricket officials,” the SLC source said.

“When Royal College got a letter on July 25, 2013, we were prompted to reply the very next day as July 26 was the deadline for entries for the tournament. The school had just one day to draft a letter and send it. Sending the letter through registered post would only cause delay so we decided to hand-deliver it the very next day. We have proof that the letters have been received and we are waiting for a reply. It’s clear that things here are being dragged deliberately by some individuals”, Mr. Rauff said.

Mr. Dilshan de Silva, Secretary of SLSCA, confirmed that they have received the copy of the letter sent to Mr. Bernadus, but he went on to say that the letter the SLSCA got did not include the authenticated signature of the Royal College Principal.

Mr. Rauff said, “Anyone knows that only the original letter is signed and the copies are only initialed. We sensed there were those at SLSCA who were causing problems for Royal College so we sent copies to Mr. Ranatunga and Mr. Bernadus. We have done our part and are waiting for SLSCA to respond, regardless of what their decision is. We will be compelled to take further steps if they continue to say they didn’t receive our letter,” he added.

What is apparent at this point is that Royal College will not proceed with the Division II tournament as they have decided to play 16 of their traditional matches. They will play a total of 19 matches, inclusive of two traditional games against St. John’s College and Central College of Jaffna, which would be revived after many years. Their final game will be the 135th Battle of the Blues encounter against St. Thomas’ College Mt. Lavinia, who also withdrew from the tournament last season but was reinstated in the Division I tournament this year.

Speaking on the S. Thomas’ issue Mr. Dilshan de Silva said, “St. Thomas’ College officials formally informed the SLSCA through a letter that they will not take part last season before the fixture meeting. But Royal College’s case is different; they played a few tournament matches and suddenly pulled out without a valid reason.”

Mr. Rauff challenges this position. He said, “We were not happy with the changes being made last year because we would be compelled to cancel several of our traditional games because they (SLSCA) made it mandatory to play nine matches stipulated by them. Then, there were issues pertaining to the number of overs during a match day and the days a match should be played on.

“Then the SLSCA gave us time until the fixture meeting and told us that if they don’t hear from us they will consider us as non-participants. According to what we were told, we just had to hand the SLSCA the registration forms by a deadline and if we didn’t, we would not be counted in. That is exactly what happened. St. Thomas’ College has sent them a letter and we did not have to according to how we were advised,” he explained.

“But this season they (SLSCA) have permitted St. Thomas’ to take part in the Division I tournament, but not us (Royal College). In the past Royal has played all tournament matches conducted by the SLSCA, outside our traditional fixtures, which amounts to as many as 23 a season. So they can’t say we haven’t obliged them. What is taking place is total injustice by a clear mafia to sabotage the reputation of Royal College”, Mr. Rauff charged.

Mr. de Silva stated that the SLSCA adopted a flexible stance on Royal College, knowing their rich tradition in school cricket and their contribution to the nation through different levels and to cricket as a whole. But he insists that the SLSCA is in no position to reply to a letter that they did not receive – even though he concedes that SLSCA has received a copy of the letter from SLC. This, while SLC confirms that the original letter was handed over to SLSCA.

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