Sri Lanka World Cup build-up collapses in political scrum | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka World Cup build-up collapses in political scrum

Sumathipala camp heavyweights Shammi Silva (left) and Mohan de Silva throw down the gauntlet as election fever hots up
Sumathipala camp heavyweights Shammi Silva (left) and Mohan de Silva throw down the gauntlet as election fever hots up

Sri Lanka’s preparations for the high stakes World Cup have been rattled and could leave followers wondering what chances their team would have in reaching the semi finals by winning at least six of the nine matches the team has to play to qualify.

Apart from customary tours of New Zealand and South Africa, the Sri Lankans are left to meagerly focus on the World Cup and plans to open up new frontiers ahead of the global showpiece in June and July were thwarted by the prevention of an elected administration in May last year that many saw as being the result of factional politics.

Aspiring chief of Sri Lanka Cricket Mohan de Silva sounded the bell that the situation was grave and warned his rival Jayantha Dharmadasa to refrain from causing further embarrassment to the country or risk witnessing a can of worms explode right in front of his eyes.

The two protagonists and their clans are locked in a high intensity race for positions in the country’s most lucrative sports institution ahead of the election on February 21.

“Our preparations (for the World Cup) were hampered since May 31 last year,” declared De Silva. “We arranged the Lanka Premier League that could have given immense confidence, exposure and opportunities to the players. We enlisted 45 international players for the slots but we could not implement anything because of the court case. What happened then is history now”.

De Silva was the vice president of Sri Lanka Cricket in the administration headed by Thilanga Sumathipala who was poised to win a second two-year term last May when their rivals successfully sought a court order against the election.

Dharmadasa was also part of the Sumathipala-led administration but broke away citing dictatorship and corruption and is now fighting to deflect counter allegations while his eligibility has also been challenged.

“Dharmadasa is a man who always enters through the back door. He is a businessman and the Sports Law excludes such people from running for office,” lashed out Shammi Silva who is vying for the secretary post and a close aide of Mohan de Silva.

Silva brandished what he claimed was a video with evidence to question the conduct of Dharmadasa and members of his clan which he said would be shown to journalists over the next two weeks.

Historically a race for positions in the country’s most influential sports body and one of the most financially thriving enterprises has never being as closely watched as it is today with plenty of behind-the-scene play taking centre stage.

The International Cricket Council has also been scrutinizing the run-up and Mohan de Silva threw a challenge to both the global keepers of the sport and the government to prove Sumathipala has skeletons in his cupboard.

“These people (Dharmadasa and clan) are fakes who have nothing to substantiate their allegations about Sumathipala against whom nothing has been proved for so many years”, said De Silva.

De Silva was credited with procuring a 52 million US dollar deal through the sale of television rights for coverage of the Sri Lanka team in 2005 and was set to become Sri Lanka Cricket president that same year.

He was thwarted by shadowy politics that resulted in the government setting up an interim committee to administer cricket with Dharmadasa at the helm.

De Silva claimed that nine months of yet another government installed current Interim Committee had triggered a complete breakdown of discipline among members of the Sri Lanka team that led to its present downward trend on the international stage.

“The captain (Angelo Mathews) was changed and the team has no inspiration, leadership and discipline today,” de Silva said.