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It’s time; Ashley 

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By Rex Clementine 

Channa Wijemanne and Supun Weerasinghe are two busy CEOs  of reputed private sector companies . The former responds to emailed queries within a day while the latter does it within a few hours. How long do you think the CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket takes to respond to emails? Six days! 

Ashley de Silva is one of the nicest blokes that you will ever come across, but being a top CEO requires more than being a nice guy.  He needs to be a visionary, efficient, bold, innovative and at times capable of taking  unpopular decisions. Cricket’s CEO has done none of those in recent times.

Heads rolled after the painful series defeat to England. Ashantha de Mel stepped down as Chairman of Selectors and 24 hours later Sri Lanka Cricket sacked the physiotherapist and a trainer. But those in cricket circles believe that we were merely changing pillows to cure headaches. 

During our steady decline in cricket in the last six years, we have sacked captains, coaches, players and selectors. To what extent has the CEO been held accountable for his role in all of this ?

Ashley became CEO of SLC in April 2013, technically on 1st April! Eight years on the job we have made little progress. Our current ICC rankings make sorry reading and there’s little effort being made to address the decline.

There are all sorts of controversies in the sport. Discipline among Sri Lanka’s cricketers has hit new lows. Two players are slinging mud at each other using social media. There’s been a breach of their contractual obligations but the CEO has failed to put them in their places. 

Kusal Mendis’ hit and run a few months ago should have earned him an immediate suspension. He and his notorious agent not only buried all evidence but failed to honour their word of building a house for the family of the deceased. The CEO turned a blind eye claiming it was a personal matter. Mendis can’t buy a run since knocking down and killing the poor cyclist who was riding to work. Karmic forces maybe at work. 

Suranga Lakmal should have been sent home on the day he was caught on camera playing cards during the first Test in Galle but nothing was done. Instead a few rookies were told to pack their bags several days later. The whole nation was condemning the actions of some of our senior players and the only organization that didn’t see anything wrong with it is the one that employs them. 

Some may ask why we are singling out the CEO when the whole board is responsible for the current mess. CEO’s job is not only making major corporate decisions but managing the overall operations as well. He is the public face of the company.  Plus no board official has lasted as long as this CEO. The image of Sri Lanka Cricket has suffered irreparable damage in many areas in the last few years and Ashley has yet to be taken to task for any of them.

Under his charge, SLC saw its biggest financial fraud; an insider instructing television partner Sony pictures to transfer a sum of US$ 187,000 (approximately Rs. 35 million) to an off-shore account in Mexico. 

On field, the national cricket team suffered back to back series defeats at the hands of South Africa and England and the fact that the team was not adequately equipped to face the challenges was quite evident. 

The gap between the LPL final in Hambantota and the Boxing Day Test at Centurion was ten days. That was hardly the preparation one needed for a tour of South Africa. Quarantine regulations meant that the players had only a couple of days to train and Consequently went into the opening Test match without even a warm-up game. 

Majority of decision makers at SLC including the President were against going on the tour. The tour went ahead on the insistence of Ashley. The players made a mockery of the Test match with half of the team picking up injuries during the game. Clearly, they were not ready for Test match cricket. What was the mighty hurry in going to South Africa? England had just abandoned their tour to South Africa due to a serious second wave caused by a new variant of the virus. Australia did the same earlier this week. Why did Sri Lanka have to take that huge risk? 

Centurion and Wanderers are the two paciest pitches in South Africa. Maybe in the whole world now that WACA is gone. If the hosts were so desperate to stage the Boxing Day Test and New Year Test to prevent loss of television revenue, SLC should have negotiated to play at a venue favourable for them.  Ideally play both Tests at Port Elizabeth. Most readers would agree with us.  But not our CEO.

It’s a little known fact that the Sri Lankan team flew home from Johannesburg on a chartered flight. It cost the board an arm and a leg – something in the range of Rs. 50 million. Was this colossal expenditure justified at a time when the country itself is grappling with serious financial issues ?

With that 50 million SLC could have easily conducted two ‘A’ team tours. But ‘A’ team cricket is something that Ashley is allergic to. In a country where First Class cricket is so diluted, a responsible CEO would have seen value in ‘A’ team cricket and the exposure the younger emerging talent should have. Instead SLC under Ashley’s stewardship have virtually swept ‘A’ team cricket out of the system because it costs too much money. 

Ashley is SLC ‘s longest serving CEO. Even James Sutherland of Cricket Australia couldn’t survive the ‘sand paper gate’. His successor Kevin Roberts barely lasted 18 months. Ashley bats on regardless while SLC is steeped in Scandal after scandal.  

We are at the very lowest ever in our Test, ODI and  T20 rankings, sixth, eighth and seventh respectively. 

After eight years in office if this is the end result surely it must call for urgent remedial action? . Deliver or depart Ashley. Given our dismal standing in world cricket after eight years in office the option seems obvious!

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Open semis today, semi-finalists found in U12 category

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SSC Open Ranking Tennis

The men’s and women’s open singles semi-finals of the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament will be played today with fifteen-year-old Dinethya Dharmarathne seeking a final berth against fancied counterparts.

Dharmarathne, who is also competing in the Under-16 age category singles, will encounter Janali Manamperi in the top semi-final of the women’s open singles. The other match will be between Savini Jayasuriya and Tania Doloswala.

Sankha Atukorale, who is the top seed in the men’s singles, will meet the Vibuda Wijebandara in the top semi final. Kiran Vairavanathan will take on Luca Knese, the champion of the recently held 105th Colombo Championships.

Meanwhile, the semi-finalists were found in the Under-12 girls’ singles, the lowest age category event, of the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament as two girls from Negombo schools and two girls from Musaeus College won their respective quarter-finals on Friday.

Movindi Fernando from Newstead College, Negombo, Githmi Fernand1o of Ave Maria and Musaeus College players Sandithi Usgodaarachchi and Gehansa Methnadi booked their spots to fight for a place in the final

(RF).

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More crisis as SLC forced to name new captain

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Sri Lanka’s T-20 skipper Dasun Shanaka  could miss the T-20 series in the Caribbean.

By Rex Clementine

Less than a month after Parliamentary watchdog committee – COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises) severely censured officials of Sri Lanka Cricket for inefficiency and lack of transparency, the sport’s governing body has been exposed once again after the captain they named for the upcoming series in the Caribbean has been left stranded in Colombo unable to get a visa to fly to West Indies.

Dasun Shanaka was named as the captain for the three match series in the Caribbean and there was indication that he might hold onto the job at least till this year’s World Cup in India.

The team, however, travelled to the Caribbean on Tuesday without the captain. Sri Lanka team arrived in Antigua on Thursday after transits in Qatar and New York but the man who is supposed to lead them is still in Negombo.

The laws in Antigua, the home for Sir Viv Richards and Sir Curtly Ambrose is that tourists need to be in isolation for 72 hours before being allowed to train and the Sri Lankan team’s quarantine period ends tomorrow.

The first T-20 International begins on Wednesday (3rd March) and even if Shanaka leaves Colombo today, he is unlikely to meet quarantine regulations in time ahead of the game. Sources said that Shanaka could end up missing the entire T-20 series if he is unable to fly by Monday.

The latest development comes as another blow for SLC who were involved in a bitter public spat with former great Chaminda Vaas hours before the team departed for the Caribbean. Vaas was a last minute replacement for Australian David Saker as Bowling Coach and requested for a raise of his daily allowance. SLC would have ended up only paying US$ 5000 but took the fight onto Vaas and stopped short of calling him a traitor in a media release that went viral.

As for Shanaka, why only his visa had been delayed is because the all-rounder had been issued a previous US visa but he had lost that passport. The US embassy in Colombo is investigating whether anyone had misused the visa on the stolen passport.

Sources said given the issues that Shanaka would face in obtaining a US visa, the practical thing to do would have been to fly Shanaka to London and let him catch a flight to the Caribbean after he was unable to fly with the rest of the team. Gatwick airport in London flies to all Caribbean islands from Antigua to St. Vincent’s.

When contacted by The Island, a senior official of SLC said that there was a delay in Shanaka submitting his passport to the US embassy as he was made to quarantine after attending the wedding of cricketer Sadeera Samarawickrama.

However, another source said that the selectors had submitted the names of 35 probables for the Caribbean as early as 20th January. The practice is to get visas for all 35 but for some reason, SLC had severely delayed the process.

The selectors will consult Head Coach Mickey Arthur before naming a new captain. Sources said that the choice is between two players who had captained the team before.

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Dinethya shocks seniors to book semi-final place

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by Reemus Fernando

Fifteen-year-old Dinethya Dharmarathne turned tables on Oneli Perera and Vonara de Alwis to secure a place in the women’s singles semi-finals of the SSC Open Ranking Tennis tournament in Colombo on Thursday.

The Visakha Vidyalaya player beat Vonara de Alwis 7-5, 6-3 in the quarter-final yesterday after turning tables on Oneli Perera, the Under-18 champion of the recently concluded Colombo Championships.

In the third round, Dharmarathne overcame a first set defeat to beat Perera 3-6, 6-0, 10-4. The semi-final place is the highest achievement by the emerging player so far. Incidentally, it was Perera who eliminated Dharmarathne in the quarter-finals of the Colombo Championships.

Dharmarathne is the youngest in the semi-final line up now.

She is set to meet number one seed Janali Manamperi who beat Sethmi Sumanaweera 6-1, 6-0 in her match. The other semi-final will be between Savini Jayasuriya and Tania Doloswala who recorded victories in their matches.

In the men’s singles, Luca Knese, Sankha Atukorale, Vibuda Wijebandara and Kiran Vairavanathan completed the semi-final line up.

Atukorale is the number one seed of this Championship, which will conclude on March 7. While Knese beat number four seed Thehan Wijemanne, Wijebandara eliminated number three seed Savit Weerasinghe.

 

Results

Men’s Singles Quarter-finals

Luca Knese beat Thehan Wijemanne 6-2, 6-4

Sankha Atukorale beat Dumindu Dilum 6-2, 6-0

Vibuda Wijebandara beat Savit Weerasinghe 6-4, 6-2,

Kiran Vairavanathan beat Gayanath Senadeera 7-6, 6-2

Women’s Singles Quarter-finals

Janali Manamperi beat Sethmi Sumanaweera 6-1, 6

Dinethya Dharmaratne beat Vonara de Alwis 7-5, 6-3

Savini Jayasuriya beat Dewmini Warnasuriya 6-0, 6-1

Tania Doloswala beat Nelini Jayasuriya 6-4, 6-3

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