Michael Roberts: “Sri Lanka’s Cricket Governance needs Overhaul”
The constitution of Sri Lanka’s cricketing arena is in need of an overhaul –a radical refurbishment. Indeed, the necessity is even greater than the recognized need for reform in the political constitution for the island.
Cricket is big business and attractive for political wheeler-dealers with personal business interests that can compromise the promotion of cricket in the island. Gideon Haigh has recently indicated how the can of worms within and around the Indian cricket scene is now being exposed by the Rajendra Mal Lodra inquiry. Sri Lanka does not need such a witch-hunt. What we Sri Lankans need is a solid overseeing structure for cricket administration, preferably one that is distanced from parliamentary elections and their periodic overturns in Sports Ministers.
It is madness, as at present, to have a system of annual elections which creates an administrative team that must consider the impending elections in one year’s time while proceeding to administer the considerable financial operations associated with the game today. For anyone to speak of the system of elections as “democratic” is both mind-boggling and duplicitous. There are “rotten boroughs” and “pocket boroughs” in the voting ranks. Wealthy entrepreneurs with political connections – don’t we know all of them!! — dominate the process. Those who win the election in one year must then distribute largesse to their supporting clubs and prepare for the election one year ahead.
What we have is a recipe for disaster. That is, cricket governance of an oligarchic manipulative kind.
That total disaster has been avoided over the last 15 years is due to undemocratic Interim Boards with honourable and knowledgeable men of the Sidath Wettimuny, Kushil Gunasekera, Rienzie Wijetilleka, Michael Tissera and Vijay Malalasekera kind. Nevertheless, from this past we also have at least one white elephant to bear: one dry zone stadium too many: for Rangiri, Pallekelle and Sooriyawewa is one too many … with Rangiri being the weakest of the lot at present because of its origins** and because it does not have suitable floodlights.
Thoughts on Reform
Guided by a “Minute” from a pal from my Peradeniya days let me cast some ideas into the white clouds of 2016 for discussion among cricketing aficianados.
Sri Lanka Cricket requires
- A Governing Board of 5 or 7 or 9 experienced and unimpeachable individuals (including at least one woman) that is appointed for a set period of say 5 years and not subject to any change (other than natural causes, namely death) should oversee operations by meeting at least once a month with acore ground from the Executive Team.
- This Board should be appointed by an Electoral College chaired by a retired Judge (for e. g Paranagama) which includes the Minister of Sports, all past Presidents of BCCSL or SLC, all Secretaries in the past 40 years, the Presidents of the GMA, Bar Association, the Mercantile Cricket Association and schools’ Cricket Association, all those who have captained the Sri Lankan men’s and women’s teams since 1972 and the cricket journalists attached to the Daily News, Island, Nation, Sunday Times, Sunday Leader and Divaina (appointed as such by their Editor).
- The Executive Team should hold office for three years and be elected by (A) representatives of all clubs playing competitive cricket throughout the island, with the clubs in Division One having two voters and the rest just one (any club without a team in competition is to be deemed a rotten borough and excluded) and, if some feasible scheme can be devised, (B) one cricketer representative from the Districts of Jaffna, Mannar, Kilinochchi, Trincomalee, Batticaloa, Monaragala, Anuradhapura, Amparai and Polonnaruva.
- The remuneration and perquisites of the Executive Team should be carefully formulated at the outset (now) – guided by existing practice — and be subject to revisions by the Electoral College in the light of experience.
- The Executive Team shall direct and supervise the paid officials of Sri Lanka Cricket.
Gideon Haigh: “Lodhra et al: Exposing Indian Cricket’s Can of Worms,” 3 January 2016, https://cricketique.live/2016/01/03/lodha-et-al-exposing-the-indian-crickets-can-of-worms/
Michael Roberts: “Governing Sri Lankan Cricket: Sumathipala as Premadasa,” in Roberts, Essaying Cricket. Sri Lanka and Beyond, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications 2006, pp. 120-22.
Michael Roberts: “Brickbats for Fernando, Stones for Johnson,” in Roberts, Essaying Cricket. Sri Lanka and Beyond, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications 2006, pp. 123-25.
Michael Roberts: “Musical Chairs in Cricket Selections,” in Roberts, Essaying Cricket. Sri Lanka and Beyond, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications 2006, pp. 126-30.
** See Roberts: “Governing Sri Lankan Cricket: Sumathipala as Premadasa,” in Roberts, Essaying Cricket. Sri Lanka and Beyond, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications 2006, pp. 120-22.