Sri Lanka’s super elite appeal to save cricket | Sunday Observer

Sri Lanka’s super elite appeal to save cricket

21 February, 2021
The people have been the biggest losers, the Petitioners have pleaded
The people have been the biggest losers, the Petitioners have pleaded

Hot on the heels of a public investigation into cricket, a steadfastly erudite group of intellectuals, distinguished former players, legal heavyweights, corporate superstars and high calibre exponents of proven administrative skills have lodged a Petition in the Appeal Court in a now-or-never push to salvage what is left of the country’s greatest sporting passion.

They have in one loud voice petitioned the Judiciary and called for the total revamp of the governance of cricket while pleading that the country’s interest was being compromised by shadowy club politics which they contend has sustained rampant corruption, dishonesty, power abuse, nepotism and cronyism.

“Sri Lanka’s cricket is seriously ill and requires immediate surgery”, the Petitioners said in a statement. “It (Constitution), is severely conflicted between clubs and country. This system encourages the office bearers to take decisions mostly to satisfy its voter base (clubs) causing the playing standards of Sri Lanka cricket to deteriorate”.

Among the 12 Petitioners are the world’s most celebrated wicket taker Muttiah Muralidaran, retired Supreme Court judge and former president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Saleem Marsoof, a most honoured ex-cricket Secretary S. Skandakumar along with Sidath Wettimuny, Michael Tissera, Rienzie Wijetilleke and public welfare crusader Kushil Gunasekera who have all served in as many as eight government Interim Committees over the past 20 years from 1999 when club-elected office bearers of SLC proved a total failure.

The Petitioners have called for the installation of a responsible Board of Directors to run the affairs of cricket in a changed Constitution which should be the responsibility of the Sports Minister under the powers vested in him.

They have asked that the Board of Directors comprise the Director General of Sports, Auditor General or his nominee, Secretary to the Treasurer or his nominee, five former cricketers of international repute with no financial or commercial interest in Sri Lanka cricket with an unblemished record, one retired Supreme or High Court judge, three members from the Private sector with the best credentials established in the corporate world and one member who is a professionally qualified accountant of high repute.

The Petition submitted by what some are calling the “12 Apostles” on a mission, is a painstakingly researched lengthy document that has listed many financial misdeeds at Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) running into millions of dollars as chronicled by an Audit Report as well as drawing comparison to how countries like England, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the West Indies have succeeded in governance without honourary office-bearers that come through an election process.

Also described in the Petition is “vote-buying in the form of hand-outs, foreign tours and funding under the guise of cricket development”.

“The (present) Constitution is inundated with serious loopholes that effectively enable a select group of office-bearers to be appointed repeatedly, many of them not former cricketers attracted to the benefits of holding such office”, the Petitioners have stated while adding that “SLC does not come under the Right to Information Act thereby creating revulsion and media criticism”.