The other day, I was in conversation with a high ranking official of a cricket club which is a top level stakeholder of the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) system. Usually, when we sit at the Clubhouse, the topics vary, yet, as of this moment, the SLC AGM is around the corner and involuntarily, we plunged [...]


Independent Election Commission for cricket elections – is it for real?


The present SLC administrators when they sat to present their manifesto - File pic

The other day, I was in conversation with a high ranking official of a cricket club which is a top level stakeholder of the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) system. Usually, when we sit at the Clubhouse, the topics vary, yet, as of this moment, the SLC AGM is around the corner and involuntarily, we plunged into that thorny subject.

While discussing the pros and cons, one of the stakeholders of our little conclave argued there would be nothing to stop ‘so and so’ from winning, as he had the results to prove his credentials. He was impressed by what was laid on the table and the sackful of hard cash that is going to work towards the uplift of the game.

At that point, another quipped, the sackful of cash is a result of the busy schedule of the Lankan cricketers, yet, the said Future Tours Programme (FTP) of the ICC was drawn while some one else controlled the strings of Lankan cricket, and because he accomplished the task diligently, we had a busy calendar in 2017.

In the same breath, he also pointed out that, no wonder, when he wanted to have the AGM on May 19, they made a hash of it, and the Attorney General (AG) had to intervene and suspend proceedings. Even at that time, the timing of the letters sent out was chosen so cunningly that it happened during the Sinhala Avurudu holidays, and a day or two later, on Friday, April 27, nominations closed.

The first guy just brushed aside that accusation, claiming, “They should have known for the past two years or more that the AGM was going to take place. Hence, they had ample time to structure their team and be ready for any eventuality.”

It was my turn to show my grasp of the matter. I quietly inquired, “If they have done the right thing and, as argued and there is hardly any opposition, why leave room for error. In the first instance, there was a query from the Attorney General and it was recommended there would be an Interim Committee (IC), and then, hastily, once again they have rescheduled the AGM process and that too, is full of question marks and exclamations. Why?”

Later, I referred this conversation to Sports Law expert Panduka Keerthinanda, to get a clear insight to the poser. He brought forth a different picture to the whole episode. He was of the view that the process is flawed and that proceeding with the present status quo would only add to the problems of the prevailing uncertain situation.

Keerthinanda explained that, going ahead with the Independent Election Commission (IEC), has no problems on its own. He said, in fact, it was the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which brought forth the stipulation of the IEC. Earlier, all AGMs were handled by the Sports Ministry Director General and his staff but, as it was a done within a political environment, the IOC came up with the alternative — the IEC.

However, the Independent Election Commission should have the necessary ingredients to its composition, to make it a success. Keerthinanda explained, the IEC should comprise people of standing, who are not biased. It should comprise a potpourri of professionals of various fields, so that, there would be a cross section of independent views.

Keerthinanda said:“At this juncture the new Sports Minister has only stated that SLC could go ahead with the setting up of the Independent Elections Commission at the Extra-Ordinary General Meeting. If that is the case, the IEC could be of any status and an element of bias could not be eliminated, because proper guidelines are not stipulated. As a result, stakeholders may get the opportunity to protest over the composition of the IEC and its element of bias.”

Keerthinanda further explained, “What the Minister should have done or, still could do, is to introduce Section 39 of the Sports Law of Act No.25 of 1973. Once that is introduced, law contains the guidelines required to have a proper Independent Elections Commission. That would dispel any misconceptions.

“However when the previous Sports Minister introduced the IEC the above was overlooked or missed. But, if the situation drags on, there may be problems”

At this juncture, the SLC has its own load of problems. Even with regard to the pending AGM, there are different views and angles and sometimes, they are deeply political.

In reality, as a result of Thilanga Sumathipala’s involvement in political triple-jump, has his political lot got weakened? In this era of political affiliations being one of the biggest qualifications for SLC’s top seat, the undercurrents are a reality. At the same time, there is a buzz about an Interim Committee also in the air.

Epilogue: Since 1996, when the then elected BCCSL President Ana Punchihewa was ousted, in what could be termed as a cricket administration coup, our cricket administration has been as straight as an octopus. More than the administration, what has prevailed is backstabbing, Interim Committees and politicisation of the game.

At one juncture, there even was an Sports Minister who appointed one of his own ministry officials to head the SLC Interim Committee; conduct and close the then TV deal and thus handed over the mantle to another Interim Committee to run the cricketing matters.

We presume that the prevailing situation does not work well for the game. The deterioration of the game came gradually: A clear indication the game was run with agenda’s other than those of cricket itself. Right now, Sri Lanka lacks a genuine first class tournament, and the gap between first class cricket and the International circuit is widening by the day.

Though the FTP and cricketers being engaged in cricket,Sri Lanka may earn billions of rupees but, our international status has plummeted to an all-time low.

Sri Lanka won the ICC T-20 World Championship in 2014, four years on, in that segment of the game, we are ranked below Afghanistan.

There is a certain segment of former cricketers who is of the view that, what should change in Sri Lanka Cricket is its constitution, so that, we could inculcate a new culture to our cricket. It will emerge as a game accepted by cricketers who have played the game at the highest level, as well as the cricket lover who would take time out to follow the Lankan cricketers at play and not, administrators at play.

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