The big ‘bite’

Recently an exasperated reader tracked me down on the phone. He asked me if our voice is heard at the top and if so why the hierarchy at Sri Lanka Cricket were given a reprieve after being branded as corrupt by none other than the Minister of Sports himself and what was actually wrong with the system of governance in our resplendent island.

Following this incident the very next day I had the opportunity of reading about the Minister of Sport C.B. Ratnayake complaining about the newspapers taking him for a ‘bite’. He complained that the newspapers had quoted out of context and advised the fourth estate to be balanced and impartial in their reporting.

The Minister and the others on that fateful day.

Initially when the minister took the bold step of removing the error laden De Mel selection committee and brought in a breath of fresh air through Aravinda and company we were more than happy. Then a few days later when he was bold enough to call a spade a spade and pronounced that the SLC was corrupt and he would not hesitate even to book the wrong doers we thought the messiah has finally arrived. Then when the vehicle stood on its tail and ran up the hill on the reverse our hopes were shattered, like the selection of Farveez Maharoof for the first Asia Cup ODI at Dambulla.

We reiterate that the minister cannot afford to utter empty words and get out of a situation. What he made was a very serious statement and after he did so he must take necessary action to follow it up and see if there is any substance in his statement and take necessary action that seems suitable in the aftermath.
Now we will go to our side of the story. We did not publicly announce that the SLC was corrupt, but, we are urging you to find out if this institution is mismanaged and is in grave danger of falling apart.

For your information we will take some accusations that the newspapers have been bellowing during the recent past and it was up to you as the custodian of the Sports Law to find out if these utterances had any substance. Then if you find the SLC administration as clean as a spring in the summer you can just give us the facts and figures and save your political henchmen’s skin.

Now we can discuss some of the matters we have at hand. The first is a small incident, but it clearly shows how inefficient the whole hierarchy is. Does the SLC have systems and do they work? Taking just the incident of leaving behind the Micromax Cup that the new look Sri Lanka contingent won in Zimbabwe at the Katunayake Airport is a glaring example. The SLC hierarchy is not capable of looking into a passing detail and appoint anyone who is responsible to look after the Cup which the team fought so hard for.

Then recently we called the SLC media section to find some details about the IIFA cricket match (which they were a part of) going on at the SSC grounds. To our surprise we get the answer: “Today the SLC media section has been given a holiday, we are not a part of the IIFA cricket match that is being run by the ICC secretariat”….. Come again. I did not know that the International Cricket Council gets involved in trivial useless exercises of this nature. If the ICC was aware of the SLC, ICC secretariat is getting involved in a matter of this nature and did nothing about it then the international cricket custodians should be taken to task. If the SLC ….. ICC secretariat went ahead handling this match without the blessings of the ICC then the person responsible for this fiasco should be taken to task. It is the integrity of Sri Lankan Cricket that is at stake.

Then on the opening day of the Asia Cup the VIPs who were in Sri Lanka had to undergo a hungry evening as the security personnel who were present at the ground were so concerned about the dinner they ate it all up leaving the rest of the brood high and dry.
Still browsing the newspapers we also read about the SLC treasurer Sujeewa Rajapakse and his operations.

It asked the following questions:

  • Has the SLC done their Annual Audit for years 2007, 2008, 2009?
  • Is the audit report ready for distribution?
  • Does he have the full control over financial matters at SLC?
  • How many foreign trips has he undertaken on SLC account since 2005?
  • Has he authorized a third party who is a personal friend of Suraj Dandeniya to issue cheques for Asia Cup payments?
  • Did he prepare and get the approval for SLC budgets for 2008, 2009, 2010?
  • What are his reasons for the massive overdrafts obtained from Bank of Ceylon and ICC?
  • Is it true that there are 14 people working in the accounts section and drawing monthly salaries totaling to Rs. 1.3 million and still SLC is running at a loss. Is it not because of bad finance management?
  • Was the treasurer present at the opening of All SLC tenders for the last 2 1/2 years including the tender for the World Cup office?

Then a person in the same organization observed on Wednesday, “The R. Premadasa Stadium looks as if it is in shambles still. I wonder if they could finish it by the stipulated date. Anyway even if they cannot complete it they would do some jugglery at the last moment and fool the ICC, but, little that they do not know is that they will be fooling the Lankan Cricket loving public and their cricketing image”.

Dear Minister – all above tabled are a few questions that were observed and asked by the newspapers of this country that you have said that have misquoted you. What we are only requesting you to do is to provide us with the answers to the questions above and substantiate the stand that you took to re-appoint the same IC twice along with some insignificant changes.

In the past there were people who managed cricket in this country and till the end of year 2000 the press in Sri Lanka did not find the operations at SLC so mismanaged and headless.

Even during that time there may have been at least one skeleton in the cupboard and the persons who possessed them or were accused of having them were made to pay in some way or the other. Given above are some questions that the fourth estate is throwing at you. Now it is up to you to provide the answers – at least you owe it to the public.

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