COLOMBO: The running of Sri Lanka Cricket has temporarily been brought under the Sri Lankan government after a “Competent Authority” was appointed to oversee day-to-day affairs. The move comes after the term of the present board, headed by Thilanga Sumathipala, ended on May 31, even as the election of a new governing body failed to materialise. The elections had been postponed due to procedural violations, with an injunction having been imposed by the courts.
The Competent Authority is headed by the secretary of Sri Lanka’s sports ministry, Kamal Padmasiri.
For the time being it is unclear how this will affect SLC’s standing in the eyes of the ICC, which in the past has not taken kindly to government interference in cricketing affairs. In 2015, when the government had appointed an interim committee, SLC had had its ICC voting rights suspended, while payments due to SLC were also held in escrow.
Sumathipala, who emphasised that he was against government intervention, said he would have preferred to be allowed to run the board until fresh elections could be held, for the sake of stability.
“With a South Africa tour, Asia Cup, and England tour coming up, these next four-five months are incredibly challenging for us, and we require stability to carry out these responsibilities,” he said. “As the ICC could demote us to observer status, it is also doubtful if we will receive the next set of funds from them. These are huge problems that need to be considered.”
However despite pleas by Sumathipala for an extension so as to allow him and his officials to continue in their posts till elections are held, Sri Lanka’s sports minister Faiszer Mustapha maintained this was the only decision available to him given the circumstances.
“We have to act within a particular legal framework and as per the advice of the Attorney General, I have chosen the most prudent approach,” Mustapha said. “I believe in a democratic process, and that democratically elected office bearers should run sports bodies. But, consequent to a writ application and an interim order, I am compelled to take this decision to ensure the continuation of Sri Lanka Cricket.”
This appointment is the latest turn of events in a months’ long election saga in which SLC has twice run foul of Sri Lanka’s sports law, despite seemingly being granted special dispensation by the sports ministry on each occasion. As it stands, the announcement of fresh elections will be contingent on the matter being taken up in court on June 14. Mustapha has stated that elections will take place by at least July 31.