The SLC AGM Premier | Sunday Observer

The SLC AGM Premier

25 April, 2021

It’s the Annual General Meeting of Sri Lanka Cricket to be played out on May 20. Now that the Cricket Selection Committee has been finally named, the next eagerly awaited match that all sports people are awaiting is this AGM as the new team will be tasked to make the difference that is needed.

There is no doubt that SLC is the most watched sports body of all national sports bodies in the country.

Until the country attained Test status in 1982 and won the 50-over World Cup in 1995’96, SLC was then known as the Board of Control for Cricket. Its affairs were conducted with great responsibility and efficiency by the then Presidents and office bearers with no questions asked. Their names are too numerous to mention. Some are still in the land of the living, while most of them have gone to their eternal rest. They were examples worthy of emulation to all sports officials and bodies.

I know of some of the officials who when the Cricket Board was running out of funds, doled out their own personal funds for the cause of the game. They had no issues organizing meetings in their residencies or paying clubs to use their club house to host their meetings.

But with the attaining of Test status and winning of the World Cup, the dollars began to flood SLC and so began the decay and scramble to hold office. Some contested for status while others to enrich their lifestyles and hob-nob with the lords of the international game. Yet there were some eminent men who were courageous enough to dedicate themselves for the love of the game and its uplift.

Sadly the dollars that were flooding SLC was a great attraction never to be missed and so began the greed to hold office. Allegations and counter allegations continued to be bowled at parties contesting, some true, some false and the verbal fights that were going on reached a zenith till AGM day arrived.

Talking of the AGM the writer remembers one AGM when guns were pulled out and voters and their supporters threatened if they don’t vote for a particular side. Maybe the guns that were pulled out did not contain live bullets, but voters were not going to be scared.

Seeing the scenes that were enacted reminded the writer of the famous Western movie that was running to crowed house at that time – GUNFIGHT AT OK CORAL-. The favourite won the election, but the scars remained.

Sadly there were times when being voted to office belonged to those able to influence the voter offering tempting perks that were too good to be missed. And so began a new game called vote buying. Whether it still persists is anybody’s guess.

There have been instances where clubs have nominated their men to represent them at AGMs and how they should vote and for which side. But at the AGM they go against the mandate given by the club and voted differently. Why they do that is obvious and needs no elaborating.

On vote buying at a recent meeting of the Committee of Public Enterprises – COPE- it was revealed that an outlay of Rs 60 million by Sri Lanka Cricket for the purchase of rollers for cricket clubs has been highlighted by the Auditor General as ‘suspicious’.

A COPE opposition member who wished to remain anonymous alleged that the sum of Rs.60 million spent is suspected to have been with the objective of vote buying at the AGM to be held next month. The member further alleged that the Auditor General has expressed his suspicion on these expenses.

With several more allegations leveled at SLC it has been reported that SJB Member of Parliament Eran Wickemartne a former left-hand opening batsman of Royal College who played in 1976 and ‘77 under T.M.S Saldin and Ashok Jayawickrema and offered a straight bat has suggested a proposal to study the systems which are followed in Australia and England to administer their respective cricket bodies. Serious note should be taken of Wickremaratne’s proposal. Wickremaratne’s opening partner was Kevin Baalthazar.

SLC also came out in poor light before COPE Chairman Professor Charitha Herath and the Parliament’s Committee on Public Enterprise Committee who instructed Anurdha Wijekoon, Secretary to the Ministry of Sports to initiate legal action against members of the previous Executive Committee of SLC if they are guilty of irregularities. From the looks of it there are many other irregularities that SLC will have to answer.

While this is read the first Test between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will be on its final day, that is if the game is not over much earlier than the intended five days it has been slated for.

Sri Lanka after their miserable showing against England and then salvaging some pride by holding the Windies in the two Tests will have to give a vastly improved performance against Bangladesh who are not expected to offer much opposition.

But with cricket being called a funny game and filled with the glorious uncertainties anything is possible. So the Lankans better not drop their guard.

With the return of the master Angelo Mathews, Wanindu Hasaranga and Lahiru Kumara the Lankans will carry more muscle. In the game today not many teams boast of a leg spinning all rounder. In Wanindu the Lankans have a match winner. We hope he will rise to the occasion and deliver in all aspects as we know he can and be a thorn in the visitors’ flesh.

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