So, it has to come to this. Sick of an ineffectual band of power-hungry officials taking turns to plunge Sri Lankan cricket down the path of destruction, a team of respected persons has sought Appeal Court intervention to try and stop further decline. As in India, they want the Court to issue directives to [...]


Call for Act of Parliament to govern Sri Lanka Cricket

Petitioners move court to revamp administration of the sport from bottom-up


So, it has to come to this. Sick of an ineffectual band of power-hungry officials taking turns to plunge Sri Lankan cricket down the path of destruction, a team of respected persons has sought Appeal Court intervention to try and stop further decline. As in India, they want the Court to issue directives to the Government, saying a bottom-up revamp — not stop-gap interim appointments — is the need of the hour.

On Monday, this group — including former international cricketers of repute, former cricket administrators with unblemished records and some civil society activists — moved the Court to direct the Sports Minister to restructure Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) governance and voting structure which they claim is behind all ills plaguing the country’s favourite sport.

“The alarming decline of Sri Lankan cricket can only be arrested through a root-and-branch governance overhaul of SLC to make the organisation fit for purpose,” the petitioners say. The Court issued notice to respondent Sports Minister and the SLC to appear before it on March 15.

Cricket has suffered deteriorating fortunes owing to persistent occurrences of mismanagement and financial and cricketing debacles for which dishonest, ambitious and corrupt officials and office bearers have much to answer for. The petitioners’ biggest grievance is SLC’s archaic constitution which has allowed even those paper clubs to enjoy the same voting rights as controlling clubs (those actively involved in the promotion of the sport).

According to the SLC constitution, a cricket club commences its membership in the category of an ‘Associate Member’ and graduates to the category of an ‘Affiliated Member’ after 10 years, provided that such a club has a minimum number of 100 members. An ‘Affiliate Member’ in turn graduates to the category of a ‘Controlling Member’ consequent to a further period of 10 years, together with a minimum number of 150 members, provided it owns or manages a SLC sanctioned cricket ground.

An affiliate can also become a controlling member when it completes 15 years, even if it doesn’t own and manage a ground, giving rise to many paper clubs. An association of 10 clubs can obtain the SLC membership and owns two votes at elections — a privilege the controlling clubs too enjoy. An affiliate only gets one vote. The board currently has 147 votes as opposed to 38 in India, a country with 1.3 billion people. This speaks volumes regarding the voting system.

“This system encourages the office bearers to take decisions mostly to satisfy its voter base, causing the playing standards of Sri Lankan cricket to deteriorate,” the petition states. “The flawed Constitution of SLC resembles a closed body lacking in accountability. It has no place for 2 of the 3 key stakeholders in the game — the players and the cricket-loving public (civil society) — to shape its policy making through voting rights at the SLC Executive Committee (ExCo). Policy making is entirely up to the voting Clubs and no one else. It is clear, under the current Constitution of SLC, only one of the 3 stakeholders of cricket makes final decisions.”

The petitioners state that having such a large number of votes has resulted in candidates for SLC elections being compelled to keep their vote base happy by way of widespread ‘buying’ of votes from these substandard cricketing clubs, who unfortunately do not have the best interests of SLC in mind when casting their votes.

They charge that, in order to obtain votes, the incumbent administrators provide voters with various hand-outs and incentives, including foreign tours and funding in the guise of cricket development with no rational justification at times.

In 2012, SLC appointed former ICC CEO Haroon Lorgat to assist SLC in reviving SLC’s management structure. Lorgat noted that SLC’s then constitution and governance model does not conform to global practices and is not fit for modern-day needs. However, none of those proposals were ever implemented by the administrators. Late Justice Prasanna Jayawardena in 2015 came up with a concept paper to reform SLC, but this too had not seen the light of the day. (See below full recommendation)

The petitioners are now pushing for these vital changes to be brought in, in order to make Sri Lankan cricket great once again.

“Notwithstanding such concerted and persistent calls, based on intelligible criteria and persuasion, to introduce a comprehensive and updated constitution, the Petitioners state that the present constitution that was introduced in 2018 barely enacted any of the recommendations made by Haroon Lorgat or late Supreme Court Justice Prasanna Jayawardena PC,” it reads.

While this is the main grievance of the petitioners, they have, in their 32-page long petition also highlighted the state of domestic cricket where 24 teams play in the first-class tournament, which is a huge number compared with Australia (6 teams) and England (18 teams). They say the provincial structure too is flawed.

“…All major international stadia and first-class clubs being restricted to only 4 out of the 9 provinces in the country…The rest of the 5 provinces do not have a single first-class team or first-class ground,” the petition reads.

The petition also draws attention to several acts of financial and administrative mismanagement of SLC highlighted in a Special Audit Report conducted by the National Audit Office in 2018 which points to a lack of transparency in SLC governance. The matter is being currently investigated by the Parliamentary Watchdog Committee on Public Enterprises (CoPE). Among those glaring irregularities highlighted in the Audit and reproduced in the petition is SLC’s decision to establish a cricket university in Kandy, irregularities with regard to the collection of income through the sale of international broadcast and sponsorships rights, the appointment and sacking of head coach Chandika Hathurusingha, irregularities in local radio broadcast rights and the establishment of Cricket Aid, SLC’s charity arm.

The Petitioners:Muttiah Muralitharan (World Highest Test wicket-taker), Sidath Wettimuny (former cricket and Interim Committee Chairman), Michael Tissera (former Sri Lanka captain), Justice Saleem Marsoof (President Counsel), Dinal Phillips (President Counsel), Rienzie Wijetilleke (former Interim Committee Chairman and Retired top banker), Kushil Gunasekera (former secretary of SLC Interim Committee), Thilan Wijesinghe (A former Chairman of BOI), Vijaya Malalasekara (former Interim Committee Chairman), Ana Punchihewa (former cricket board President under whom Sri Lanka won the World Cup in 1996), Somasundaram Skandakumar (Former Board Secretary), and Palitha Kohona (Diplomat).



The Respondents:Minister of Sports Namal Rajapaksa and SLC office-bearers Shammi Silva, Ravin Wickremaratne, Jayantha Dharmadasa, Thilak Waththuhewa, Mohan de Silva, Chryshantha Kapuwatte, Lasantha Wickremasinghe, Lalith Rambukwella and rest of the executive committee members.



What they plead for:

  •  To issue a directive to the Minister of Sports to prescribe or amend existing regulations in a manner they could restructure the SLC constitution.
  •  To direct the Minister of Sports to appoint an independent Apex body consisting of an independent board of directors and appoint a consultant from the International Cricket Council to advise the board of directors on the drafting of a new constitution and holding SLC election under the new constitution.
  •  To prescribe that all committees of the SLC should come under the jurisdiction of the Board of Directors.
  •  To issue a directive to the Minister of Sports to direct the SLC to exercise, discharge and perform its powers effectively to elevate the standard of cricket across all levels and to ensure best corporate practices of financial transparency and good governance.
  •  To direct the Minister to enforce the said directives and in failure to implement them to take punitive actions in terms of Section 39 (1) of Sports Law No. 25 of 1973.
  •  To issue a directive to the Minister of Sports to pass a dedicated Act of Parliament to govern and administer Sri Lanka Cricket.



Late Justice Prasanna Jayawardena’s recommendations on Sri Lanka Cricket reforms1. It is recommended that SLC is incorporated by an Act of Parliament, as a Body Corporate, which has perpetual succession and can hold property in its own name and sue and be sued in its own name.

It is submitted that there is ample justification to differentiate SLC from other unincorporated Sports Associations since SLC which has a Balance Sheet with Gross/Total Assets over Rs 6,186 Million and Gross Income (Turnover) of over Rs 3,233 Million [in the year 2014], is the Proprietor of the “most valuable Brand in Sri Lanka” and administers the Game of Cricket which has an unique place in the hearts and minds of the people of Sri Lanka.

2. It is recommended that, the Act of Incorporation provides for SLC to have a Constitution to govern membership rights and incorporates a suitably drafted Constitution in a Schedule. The Act and Constitution should be drafted by a specially appointed Committee and be, thereafter, submitted to the Legal Draftsman’s Department for any required amendments and finalisation;

3. It is recommended that, SLC is taken outside the scope of the Sports Law and is governed by its Act of Incorporation, Constitution and any Rules that may be made by the Minister of Sports under and in terms of the Act of Incorporation;

4. It is recommended that, the Act of Incorporation/Constitution provides that all the Associate Members, Affiliated Members, Controlling Members and Cricket Associations which now hold Membership in SLC, continue as Members of SLC.

However, it is recommended that, following Incorporation, these Members are divided into two Categories – ie: Voting Members and Non-Voting Members.

5. It is recommended that, the Voting Members at any General Meeting of SLC be restricted to the following Categories of Members – (i) a maximum of 14 Clubs who, as at the date of that General Meeting, play in the then current Premier Tournament, which should be restricted to 14 Clubs (as at present); (ii) A maximum of 10 Clubs who, as at the date of that General Meeting of SLC, playing in the then current Emerging Tournament, which should be restricted to 10 Clubs (as at present); (iii) Recognised Cricket Associations who conduct Tournaments (there are 06 at present); (iv) Provincial Cricket Associations (ie: 09, at most) who will represent all the District Cricket Associations within that Province [The Constitution should set out a Model for this arrangement]

The current voting system results in SLC having about 147 Voting members at any time, based on the present structure. [PCB has approximately 17 voting members, the ECB has approximately 18 members, BCCI has approximately 42 members and Cricket Australia has approximately 22 members];

6. It is recommended that, Members who are Premier Clubs and Provincial Cricket Associations will be entitled to 02 votes each at a General Meeting of SLC and that members who are Emerging Clubs and Recognised Cricket Associations will be entitled to 01 vote each. All votes to be exercised by delegates to the Meeting.

7. It is recommended that, the Act of Incorporation and the Constitution provides for SLC to be governed and managed by a Board of Directors of 15 persons which will hold Office for a period of two years and are appointed at an AGM of SLC;

8. It is recommended that, the members of SLC elect 09 members of the Board of Directors from among candidates who are duly nominated by any Voting member and are members of the nominating Club or Association; that the Immediate Past Chairman also be a member ex officio; and that, the Minister of Sports, in consultation with the National Sports Council, appoints 05 members of the Board of Directors, who shall be independent professionals of known integrity and high repute with 02 being qualified practicing Chartered Accountants with more than 20 years experience, 01 being a senior lawyer who has been in practice for more than 20 years and 02 being Directors of Public Quoted Companies;

9. It is recommended that, the Board of Directors appoint a Chairman from among the elected members and a Deputy Chairman who is an appointed member;

10. It is recommended that, no person shall hold the Office of Chairman or Deputy Chairman for more than two terms and that, no person shall be a member of the Board of Directors for more than two consecutive terms;

It is recommended that, the Act/Constitution clearly specifies: the Duties and Obligations of the Directors including the fact that they hold Office in a fiduciary capacity; a Code of Conduct for Directors; the usual grounds specified in similar Acts of Incorporation for disqualification of a Director and also disqualifies any persons who holds elected political Office; suitable provisions for Board Procedure; the Procedure for the removal of Directors; makes it mandatory for SLC to appoint the Auditor General as its Auditor; makes it mandatory for SLC to appoint a recognised Firm of Chartered Accountant to carry out Quarterly Management Audits and Internal Audits in line with accepted Corporate Practices; requires SLC to have an Audit Committee chaired by an appointed Director who is a Chartered Accountant and one other appointed Director and 02 elected Directors; and other Provisions which will ensure good governance and efficient management on a long term basis.

11. It is recommended that, there shall be a Board of Governors of SLC consisting of 05 persons, 02 of whom shall be past Test Captains of Sri Lanka who have ceased to play First Class Cricket at least 15 years prior to their appointment to the Board of Governors, 02 of whom shall be independent and eminent professionals of known integrity and high repute and with a seniority of not less than 25 years in their profession and 01 of whom shall be a previous Chairman of SLC;

12. It is recommended that, the Board of Governors shall be appointed by the Minister of Sports, in consultation with the National Sports Council, and hold Office for a period of 03 years;

13. It is recommended that, the Board of Directors of SLC shall obtain and consider the views of the Board of Governors with regard to decisions of the Board of Directors on financial transactions over a value of Rs.10 million; the acquisition, disposal or other dealing in property of SLC which is over a value of Rs 10 million and the hiring, termination, remuneration and disciplinary control of the Chief Executive and Departmental Heads of SLC before the implementation of such decisions;

14. It is recommended that, Provisions be made in the Act/Constitution for SLC to have a Chief Executive who is appointed by the Board of Directors, in consultation with the Board of Governors. The Chief Executive will function as the operational head of SLC and will report to the Board of Directors and be entitled to attend Meetings of the Board of Directors.

15. It recommended that, Provisions be made in the Act/Constitution for SLC to have Departmental Heads responsible for Cricket Operations, Finance, Tournaments, Marketing, Administration/Legal and IT, each of whom reports to the Chief Executive.


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