Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) which continues to thrive on what has become its private fiefdom stands accused of committing an act most foul in the history of the sport’s administration as the country lost out on hosting the much anticipated Youth World Cup thanks to another kind of ball game played indoors.
A legal expert branded the act as a betrayal on the lines of pre-Independence Sri Lanka.
According to estimates nearly two million schoolboys were looking forward to witnessing the event at their doorstep while 15 of the island’s most promising cricketers were fine-tuning to become finished products in time for the Under-19 World Cup that was scheduled to take place in less than two months.
But their boyhood passions, Parliament declared, were hijacked by greedy and power hungry cricket administrators with the event now shifted to South Africa, a country that has moved on from its dark days of apartheid.
Sri Lanka Cricket denied wrong-doing in the episode and one cricket official shed what some called crocodile tears while passing the buck on government interference opposed by the International Cricket Council that banned the country from staging the 16-nation event.
“We put plans in place over the past three months and what has happened is so sad. We were preparing all these children (Under-19 cricketers) for the occasion and gave hopes to their families. We will help these children not get discouraged by what happened,” said SLC’s acting secretary Chrishantha Kapuwatte who replaced Mohan de Silva who quit the scene answering a public call for a clean-up of corruption in cricket.
Kapuwatte’s cry came two weeks after Sri Lanka Cricket in a most disputed and confidentially shocking letter signed by its head Shammi Silva officially conveyed to the International Cricket Council (ICC) that they are all part of a private organisation not answerable to the country and people.
“We will take all means necessary as private citizens to restore independence to Sri Lanka Cricket including by making appropriate applications to court,” Silva conveyed to the head of the ICC Greg Barclay in one of the letters leaked out and tabled in Parliament by Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe who has sworn to leave no stone unturned while backing a people’s call to rid SLC of corruption.
The clean-up call took another direction as Professor of Law and justice crusader Prathibha Mahanamahewa lambasted stubborn cricket officials who by their unwelcome desire to stay on have disregarded and defied Parliament in an act that he branded was akin to betrayal of the country during colonial times.
“Treachery is nothing new to Sri Lanka, it has happened in the past”, said Mahanamahewa. “SLC committed a foul deed that led to a ban on Sri Lanka. The ICC for its part should have consulted the Sports Minister and checked the veracity of the letters. But nothing of that happened and even natural justice was violated.”
President Ranil Wickremasinghe asked for the letters already tabled in Parliament so he could act on it.