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13th June 1999

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Interim body to run cricket

By Callistus Davy

With the Cricket Board's controversial president Thilanga Sumathipala being bowled by a court order the government yesterday moved to appoint an interim administrative body to pull the Board and Sri Lankan cricket out of a mud hole.

Colombo Stock Exchange Chairman and Hatton National Bank Managing director Rienzie Wijetilleke, will head the five-member interim body to administer the Cricket Board .The body was named by the Sports Ministry acting under the provisions of the sports law but informed sources told The Sunday Times President Kumaratunga played a role in appointing the five member committee.

The other members of the committee are well known cricket personalities-former captain Michael Tissera, S. Skandakumar, Sidat Wettimuny and Asantha de Mel.

Analysts see the appointment of an interim body as the first step towards stamping out alleged acts of corruption, indiscipline and power abuse which have rocked the nation's cricket in recent years.

This came after the district Court of Colombo issued an interim injunction on Tuesday, debarring Mr. Sumathipala and other top officials from carrying out their functions until the case is finally determined.The Court also pointed out that the Sports Ministry could appoint an interim body for administration.

The Court order came on a petition filed by Clifford Ratwatte who had challenged Mr. Sumathipala for the Cricket Board's top post at the Annual General meeting in March. Mr. Sumathipala claimed victory at the election. But Mr. Ratwatte-an uncle of President Kumaratunga alleged violence, intimidation and vote rigging..

The first task of the interim body will be to finalise arrangements for a Sri Lanka "A" team's tour of England early next month and incoming tours by Australia and India in August.

Sports Minister calls Ranatunga to step down as skipper

Sri Lankan Sports Minister S.B. Dissanayake Friday accused skipper Arjuna Ranatunga of several mistakes that led to the country's early exit from the Cricket World Cup and asked him to step down.

Dissanayake said Ranatunga, 35, should step down as captain of the Sri Lankan squad but could continue to play cricket.

"He got many things wrong in the tournament," Dissanayake said in an interview with the BBC. "He made very bad decisions, so it is time for him to step down.

Dissanayake told the BBC's Sandeshaya Sinhalese-language program that he believed Ranatunga was a "modest sportsman" and he could continue to remain in the Sri Lankan team but not as captain.

The minister's remarks were the first official reaction since the country's humiliating exit from the first stage of the tournament unable to defend the cricketing crown won in March 1996 after beating Australia.

In a written statement sent here from England, Ranatunga vowed to continue playing. Seven members of the Sri lankan squad returned last week while the others stayed in England.

Ranatunga was one of those who remained and was spared the frosty reception at Colombo airport, which was in sharp contrast to the red carpet VIP welcome Sri Lanka received after winning the previous World Cup.

Ranatunga, who is currently under heavy fire for the country's dismal performance, made it clear he had no intention to step down despite a massive media campaign here against him.

"What I do wish to say is that it is my firm belief that I do have a few years of cricket left in me and if my services are wanted I am willing to represent my country in whatever capacity," Ranatunga said in his statement.

Sri Lanka's miserable World Cup ended with an unconvincing 45-run win over group A minnows Kenya. Sri Lanka had earlier lost to England, South Africa and India, and won against Zimbabwe.-AFP

Susanthika third

While the reigning 100 metres world champion Marion Jones won the event in a time of 11.33 seconds at the World Track and Field championships in Unlondale USA in a world class field, Sri Lanka's Susanthika Jayasinghe was among the first three in Germany.

Susanthika won the third place in the 100 metres dash in a time of 11.36 seconds in the event virtually won by Nigeria's Endurance Ojokolo in 11.26 seconds followed by Merlene Ottey of Jamaica in 11.27 seconds.

Susanthika is rated amongst the top five in both the 100 and 200 metres.

In Iena, Germany, Susanthika running in her pet event the 200 metres finished in third place in a time of 23.44 seconds the event won by Mercy Nku of Nigeria in 23.31 seconds with Zundra Feagin of USA second in 23.41 seconds.

Colombo clubs agree to play at Nittawela again

By Bernie Wijesekera

After a confab the Rugby Union's tournament committee had with the club officials to finalise the Carlsberg 'A' second-leg league championship clubs have agreed to play all Kandy SC home games at their home grounds in Nittawela, said the secretary of the SLRFU, Capt. Harsha Mayadunne to The Sunday Times.

According to Mayadunne, the clubs (barring the Services) refused to play their fixtures against KSC at Nittawela, after last year's 'Black Sunday' holocaust against CR&FC. Mayadunne, who personally inspected the security arrangements assured them that there will not be a repeat again. The KSC hierarchy with the assistance of the Police has taken all measures to curb hooliganism and deterrent action will be taken from whatever quarter it is understood.

Mayadunne, the Naval Officer, who has played both cricket and rugby at the highest level, further stated that past is now a memory. It has not only happened in Kandy alone, but it has occurred in the metropolis, too.

Today, Kandy is the only club playing competitive rugby in the outstations. In fairness to them they must be allowed to host their matches in their home grounds. They have promised to leave no stone unturned. They are confident about it, Mayadunne added.

The Union's motive is to promote and develop the game in the outstations, that too at grassroots level, not confine it to Colombo schools alone. The provincial unions must be supported and encouraged to develop the game.

Matches must be played in the provinces to draw spectator interest. Today crowds are dwindling due to dropping of standards. Imagine CH&FC, a club with a reputation hitting a new-low when they got outplayed and outclassed by the Army team 52-5.

The soldiers took to the game after joining the Army, with hardly any school rugby background. This attributes to discipline and planning by the Army Rugby Board, headed by Brig. Jupana Jayawardena and thanks to their new All Blacks Coach Kelvin Farrington. Had the Army beaten the Police they could have been placed second in the table, behind the defending champions CR&FC.

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