Backstage drama leads to gang-up against Sumathipala | Sunday Observer

Backstage drama leads to gang-up against Sumathipala

Jayantha Dharmadasa holds up a document he claims that warned Thilanga Sumathipala of fishy deeds with Nishantha Ranatunga by his side
Jayantha Dharmadasa holds up a document he claims that warned Thilanga Sumathipala of fishy deeds with Nishantha Ranatunga by his side

One time Sri Lanka Cricket visionary Thilanga Sumathipala could be payingthe price for a dictatorial attitude that led to his ouster from the game’s administration that has now left him to depend on his second-in-command Mohande Silva against his main adversary Jayantha Dharmadasa at next month’s election of office bearers to run the affairs of the island’s favorite sporting passion.

Both Mohan de Silva and Jayantha Dharmadasa are ganging up and leading camps against each other in what some analysts see as the country’s second most important poll after parliamentary elections.

But while De Silva attempts to garner the support of Sumathipala’s wider voter base, Dharmadasa claims he’s got enough and more clout to call the shots and be Sri Lanka’s next cricket chief to redeem the country’s fallen identity from the dumps it is presently in.

“The way he (Thilanga Sumathipala) did things was autocratic and intimidating”, declared Dharmadasa as he launched his bid for the top post at Sri Lanka Cricket’s election scheduled for February 21 while the country has come under intense scrutiny by the International Cricket Council (ICC) over allegations of corruption and match-fixing.

Usually a man of few words, Dharmadasa revealed that Sumathipala had forced his subordinates to perform functions outside the demarcated working hours to suit his whims and fancies that led to cracks in the administration which came to a halt through a court order last year.

“Sumathipala ignored all my concerns (as vice president) I raised highlighting his loss of direction in the administration. He was a one-man show and the administration started to crumble. The club and schools structure was in ruins and ground maintenance was nil while coaching standards had dropped and all this is now visible by what has happened to the Sri Lanka team”, said Dharmadasa.

One of the many arbitrary decisions made by Sumathipala according to Dharmadasa was the appointment of Asanka Gurusinha as team manager disregarding authorised negotiations to enlist former captain Bandula Warnapura for the job.

Some 144 votes are at stake but it remains unclear whether Dharmadasa and his team comprising the former World Cup winning captain of 1996 Arjuna Ranatunga who is contesting the post of vice president and his brother Nishantha Ranatunga the secretary candidate can muster a majority to thwart Sumathipala’s faction.

The trio are banding together under a populist political slogan “let’s make Sri Lanka Cricket Great Again”.

But Nishantha Ranatunga, who within a short span of time outsmarted his opponents and rose in the ranks to international recognition while being the secretary at one time, claims they have all the ingredients to make the perfect formula to salvage the country’s cricket team and take it to the limits.

“We have with us all those who have contributed to lifting the Sri Lanka team in the past and the only way we can bring back that past glory is to ensure there is no politics in team selections, no player is a victim of club politics and every player has the right mindset and management. Our conduct must give the players confidence”, said Ranatunga.

He charged that Sumathipala’s administration had misled the people by providing what he called “false figures” over profits made through tournaments with most of the money mismanaged or squandered.

Ranatunga is believed to be the main architect to successfully lead a legal battle against Sumathipala who was poised to sweep the boards at the postponed election last year.