21st December 1997

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Dharmadasa: No power struggle in cricket board

By Daminda Wijesuriya

Cricket Board President Upali Dharmadasa in the centre of a controversy over the WorldTel bribery allegation has denied there is a power struggle in the board. He says when his term ends end of this month, he will call an AGM before March 31 to elect officials to the board. In an interview with The Sunday Times and Lankadeepa, Mr. Dharmadasa says it is his duty to reveal if there is something wrong and he has done that. Excerpts.

Q: How do you see the crisis in the Cricket Board?

A: There is no crisis in the Board. It is only the outsiders who think like that. If I am an outsider, I also may think that there are problems.

Q: Then what is this hullabaloo over the WorldTel?

A: All this began with the board's decision to market our cricket internationally on a request made by its vice president Tilanga Sumathipala. He said the board could earn millions by marketing Sri Lanka cricket internationally. We gave our support to Mr. Sumathipala to go ahead.

So we appointed a committee to go into the matter and report to the board. On June 6, there was a special meeting of the Ex-Co. Mr. Sumathipala tabled a letter saying that the ad hoc committee had selected a company for a three year deal of $ 5.5 million. This was unanimously approved by the ex-co. On August 17, Mr. Sumathipala suggested that an agreement be signed. But since there was no clear understanding between the two parties about the terms and conditions of the agreement, a memorandum of understanding was signed pending the agreement.

Q: Then when did it all go wrong?

A: As we were discussing the matter at length, WorldTel Chief Mark Mascarenhas on September 17 told me that he had agreed to pay some money to a senior official of the Cricket Board. He also said that 50% of the money had already been paid and the rest was to be paid soon. He said part of the money was to be given to the Sports Minster.

On the following day I told this to Cricket Board Chief Executive Dhammika Ranatunga, Treasurer Kumar Weerasuriya and Secretary Tryphon Mirando. I also informed Sports Ministry Secretary R.M.K.Ratnayake.

Q: The Sports Minister was not in the country at that time.What was the secretary's response?

A: He told me that this is a serious allegation and he will inform the minister when he came back. Later on, I rang up the minister to get an appointment but he wanted me to tell him the story over the phone. After about 15 minuets the minister phoned and scolded me linking my complaint to a power struggle in the board.

Q: Most of what you said is known to the people. Can you tell us what was the reason behind Thursday's Extraordinary General Meeting?

A: The ex-co on Nov. 22 after considering a request by 37 clubs for an Extraordinary General Meeting to discuss the WorldTel crisis, decided to hold this meeting under Clause 20 of the constitution.

Q: There were reports that you opposed the EGM?

A: I reminded the ex-co of a decision not to discuss the WorldTel affair since the matter was under investigation by the Bribery Commission. I told them we must consult our lawyers first before we convene the EGM. After the lawyers gave the go ahead, we posted letters informing the EGM.

Q: What happened at the EGM?

A: Everything about the WorldTel affair was discussed. Most of the members agreed that the WorldTel agreement should not be signed. We decided to go into a new deal after consulting legal opinion.

Q: You claimed the MOU was signed with the knowledge of Mr. Sumathipala, a senior vice president, and with the full approval of the Ex- Co.

A: Yes.

Q: But Mr. Sumathipala alleges that the MOU was signed without the approval of the Ex-Co amidst objections from the Chairman of the sponsorship committee?

A: The ex-co gave permission to the WorldTel deal on June 14 when Secretary Mirando, Mr. Sumathipala and Dhammika Ranatunaga were attending an ICC meeting in England. The secretary and the vice-president gave a letter to World Tel Inc. after getting my permission over the phone. The letter while expressing an intent to sign the contract sought a copy of the agreement. Mr. Mascarenhas responded on June 27 with a copy of an MOU. This was just before the Indian tour of Sri Lanka.

An agreement was signed with WorldTel for the TV coverage of the tour. Mr. Mascarenhas, myself and the secretary signed it on July 17. Mr. Sumathipala, Mr. Dhammika Ranatunga and the Cricket Board lawyer Dinal Philips were also present.

Q: Then why is Mr. Sumathipala so unhappy about this?

A: Mr. Sumathipala at an ex-co meeting on July 23 said there were several provisions in the MOU which needed to be revised upon legal advice before the final agreement was signed.

Q: Mr. Sumathipala in several recent media releases has questioned the conduct of the ex-co on the WorldTel affair. Your comments?

A: If that is so, he himself is a member of the Ex-Co. That means he is also guilty.

Q: At the EGM, an opinion was expressed that a foreign hand is trying to kill Sri Lankan cricket by creating a split in cricket administration. Do you agree with this view?

A: I don't think it is true.

Q: The Sports Minister has said there is a power struggle in the board. What do you say about this?

A: That may be his view. My term ends on December 31. Before March 31 I have call an AGM to elect new officials.

Q: Do you have to say anything to the cricket loving people in this regard?

A: All the member clubs and associations of the Board have appointed me as the president since they have some faith in me. During my tenure, if I get to know about something unwholesome, it is my duty to reveal it. I have just done that.

AAA should take KL as an example: Perera.

By Annesley Ferreira.

The Sri Lankan Amateur Athletic Association (AAA) should take an example from Malaysia was the firm belief of G.L.S. Perera the Life Member of the Technical Officials Commitee of Malaysia in an exclusive interview with the "Sunday Times".

Perera gave Malaysia as an example of the Technical Official management system of athletics, which is not applicable in Sri Lanka?".

Perera also said that the NTO's grading system is not operative in Sri Lanka. He said that Malaysia has 52 referees. He asked: "how many referees has Sri Lanka?".

Perera gave a breakdown of the technical officals neccessary to conduct a meet successfully: Asian Games - 250, Commonwealth Games - 220, Asian Championships - 200, International Invitation meet - 180, National championships - 130, and ordinary meet - 70.

Perera also said that officials should be paid an allowance.

Exams have not been held in Sri Lanka for technical officials, but results have been announced, Perera wonders what had happened to the starters who passed the exam.

In organising a good meet, the AAA Techical Committee should be able to draw the calendar at least three months ahead of the meet, Perera added.

Perera also said that the AAA should introduce a Technical Card System with which they could earn an additional income.

At long last the AAA has a secretariat, he said.

The difference in the system of grading in Malaysia is that a Grade 3 judge has to wait two years to qualify as a Grade 2 judge and three years to become a Grade 1 referee.

Caddie is top golfer in Saudi

By Brig. Dennis Hapugalle

Shirley Ranasinghe has spent most of his life at the Royal Colombo golf club as a caddie. For many years he was living in a shack alongside the Golf Course. He gave up his studies and started life as a ball boy as the sole bread winner for his family.

Shirley was altogether a rare caddie. His manners were impeccable. He was fully conversant with the laws of the game and knew course etiquette. His knowledge of the game and playing ability were outstanding. He won the '78 and '79 junior championships and achieved recognition.

I was pleased to have his services as my caddie in the eighties and with his advice I won many tournaments.

As Captain of the Club in 1989 in a very difficult year of extremist dissidents and violent youth - I was able to keep the Golf Club functioning with the considerable assistance of Nandasena and Shirley who guided club officials on how best to deal with problems.

Today Shirley is a higly respected professional in Riyadh. He is also responsible for course maintenance. I was greatly impressed when I met him recently on holiday. He was busy looking for seeds to beautify the course in Riyadh.

He said that it is unbelievable to think that Riyadh even exports quality grass to neighbouring countries. He recently won a Lufthansa round trip Economy class return ticket from Riyadh to any Lufthansa destination in Europe.

He also won a hole-on-one prize at a qualifying round of a main tournament. He was a member of the club team of Riyadh based golfers that toured the Philippines to compete in the 50th Philippine Airlines Inter Club Golf Tournament.

Shirley and Nandasena who have been compared to lotuses that bloom in mud have done much to create a good image for golf in Sri Lanka.

In order to play rugby football...

Dazzling Naufer skipped basketball

By Saif Izzadeen

In the rugby field one of the most eyecatching things to watch is a wing three-quarter making it to the corner flag.

Naufer Rahim, who can be tagged as one of the finest wing three quarters in Sri Lanka, has caught his opponents on the wrong foot, time and again with his dazzling runs.

Naufer, who works at Asia Capital as a stock broker spoke in eloquent terms about the sport and his future when he was interviewed by The Sunday Times. Naufer has tried his luck with many sports before deciding that rugby was the sport for him. "It is a manly game and I like the rough and tumble of it", said Naufer.

Naufer watched his first game when he was schooling at Royal where he watched a club match with some friends. "I didn't take up rugby accidentally although I tried my hand at several sports. Nothing clicked, but after I started to play rugby, I really liked the game and continued to pursue it", said the affable Old Royalist.

The crack wing three-quarter played rugby for Royal from the under 13 level up to the senior team. He had the honour of representing Royal in the Bradby Shield matches against Trinity in '90 and '91. Rahim who was a Police rugger fan had his dreams of representing the Police team come true when he signed up with the Police Force just after leaving Royal.

In the short period of one year he was a member of the Police First XV team and played in the pivotal position as a scrum half. After playing for about three years for the 'blue shirts' he joined CR and FC and continues to be a part of the Longden Place Club to the present. Naufer had to change his position from scrum half to wing three quarter because of Champika Nishantha who was very tough to dislodge at the base of the scrum.

"I think by playing foreign players in local teams the young chaps in Sri Lanka are not getting a chance to show their colours . It is a shame to see local players who are better than the expatriate players occupying the benches". He also says that by reducing one foreign player per club in the coming season, will help youngsters in the local scene.

Naufer says: "It has finally happened.The local rugby authorities have decided to curtail the rugby season for just one knock-out tournament and the usual league championships. I think it is a fair decision and will help the ruggerites to have the necessary break. Most of the guys will welcome the idea whole heartedly," said Naufer.

Naufer made his XV-a-side international debut for Sri Lanka in 1994 when he was picked to play against Taiwan. He made his seven-a-side debut a year later against Japan. Although Naufer wasn't selected for the recent tour of Malasiya, he was of the opinion that the national rugby selectors had picked the best team.

He was quick to point out that he is ready to get back to the national side and put on a better performance. "The match against Taiwan will be a tough hurdle but we did well to beat Malasiya in Kuala Lumpur", he said. "The boys should now take the match against Taiwan seriously which is to be played in Bangkok", said Naufer.

Jeff Wilson and Jonah Lomu of New Zealand and Wasile Serevi of Fiji are Naufer's favourite international players. "I think professionalism in New Zealand and the way they look after the players is the main reason that Jonah Lomu has reached such a high level. I love the way Lomu runs and I hope I could play like that some day".

Naufer goes on to add that if the local rugby authorities could curtail the influx of foreign players and give more incentives to local ruggerites, Sri Lanka should be a better rugby playing nation.

Naufer is also a fine basketball player and was even selected to the Sri Lanka pool. He gave up basketball because of his love for rugby.

Naufer's favourite meal is rice and curry. He has great faith in God and loves to ride his motor-bike.

His advice to up-and-coming ruggerites, is to work hard towards the goal, putting every effort into it.

In conclusion he did not forget to thank his mother and his rugby coaches for the help they had extended to him in order to reach the top.

Honours shared

Good Shepherd Convent, Kotahena and Maris Stella Negmbo emerged champions for girls and boys at the Sri Lanka Schools Gymnastics Championships concluded at the Ananda College Gymnasium.

Talking Point

Warnapura, Tissera,Peiris out of team

Out go Malintha Warnapura, Rally Tissera and Nilanka Peiris from the team that was selected to participate in the postponed Indian tour and thereafter the mini World Cup in South Africa in February 1998.

In comes Malintha Gajanayake and Thilini Kandambi.The talk in sports circles is that few of the selectors were not consulted when these players were dropped and when the new players to make the tour were called in. Who could this senior cricketer be who wields such power that he can include players in a team of this magnitude at his own whims and fancies?

Malintha Warnapura, Tissera and Nilanka Peiris are players who have performed exceptionally well in Inter-School cricket matches this season.Overlooking them after being selected is gross injustice.

Kumari, Kumara win race

Kumari Seneviratne of Vilayaya MV Polonnaruwa and I.P. Kumara of Vijitha MV Polonnaruwa won the girls and boys under-19 Road Race conducted by the Polonnaruwa District Athletic Association and sponsored by Seylan Bank. 423 athletes faced the starter.

R. Udayangani of Sri Lak Colombo won the women's 5000 metres open race.

5000 metres girls under-19 - M.G.N. Kumari Seneviratne (Vilayaya MV), H.P. Sriyani Malkanthi (Sri Lak).

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