by Rex Clementine
In an interview with a Sunday newspaper, Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa had conceded that every time that an Interim Committee was in place that our cricket had slumped!
Now, there are few things that the Sports Minister is good at like for example playing rugby, driving fast cars and practicing law. In racing, Namal has so many tricks up his sleeve that at times he makes Ayrton Senna look ordinary. In rugby, Namal’s beloved Navy SC made the invincible Kandy SC eat humble pie. In the legal practice, Namal passed Law college exam with flying colours obtaining more marks than the great Lalith Athulathmudali. That all this he achieved while his father was the President of course is a different story.
Anyone who has followed Sri Lankan cricket knows why Interim Committees were put in place and what happened afterwards. The first Interim Committee headed by Rienzie Wijetilleke was appointed in 1999 when the sport had hit new lows. Sri Lanka as defending champions of the World Cup made a first round exit in England and there were many who had to pay the price – captain, selectors and the board.
The new selection panel headed by Sidath Wettimuny did sweeping changes and blooded in youth. The very first series after the changes were made Sri Lanka not only beat Australia in a Test match for the first time but won a tri-nation series beating Steve Waugh’s side in the grand final. This was less than two months after they had become World Champions.
Many young players were blooded in at that time, including one Kumar Sangakkara who sits on the Technical Advisory panel that the Minister of Sports has appointed. Maybe Namal will be better off learning from Sanga what Interim Committees have done for the sport.
There was a second Interim Committee headed by Vijaya Malalasekara in 2001. At that time, the national cricket team went onto win ten matches in a row, still a record.
The head of third Interim Committee was leading businessman Hemaka Amarasuriya, who was appointed in 2002. His crowning moment was successfully conducting the inaugural ICC Champions Trophy in Colombo 2002, the biggest sporting spectacle Sri Lanka had conducted at that point. Sri Lanka ended the competition in flying colours finishing as joint-champions along with India after the final was rained off.
Namal’s illustrious father himself appointed several Interim Committees. So when Namal says that the performances of the team suffered when Interim Committees were in place, he is in fact pointing figures at Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa. The truth is far from that. Someone seems to be taking the Minister on a ride and the sooner he realizes that the better it is.
Sri Lanka Cricket seems to be not having too many supporters these days given the blunders they have committed in recent weeks. But Namal seems to be their biggest fan. The other day, he misled the Parliament by taking Chaminda Vaas to task for not going on the tour of West Indies conveniently forgetting several lapses on the part of the men who are running cricket.
Some stakeholders of the game have pointed it out that the term of the office bearers of SLC who were elected on the 21st February 2019 had ended on the 20th of February 2021 and are not legally entitled to hold office as they have been appointed for a period of two years.
The stakeholders have demanded that either an Interim Committee is appointed or run the affairs of SLC through a Competent Authority like the Secretary of the Ministry as it has been done on previous occasions.
However, the Minister of Sports seems to be passing the buck on claims what are actually false; like Sri Lanka performing poorly when Interim Committees are in place.
The current administration cut a pathetic figure unable to answer questions at the COPE. More sickening details are expected to be exposed when COPE summons officials again. One question that everyone seems to be wondering is how a sum of US$ 180,000 disappeared to an offshore account in Mexico and who swindled that money!
The Minister of Sports needs to get his act together and information right before he tilts at windmills.
Murali hospitalised for cardiac treatment
Muralitharan was at the Chepauk when Sunrisers played Mumbai Indians on Saturday, incidentally his 49 birthday. © BCCI/IPL
Sri Lankan cricket legend Muttiah Muralitharan, who is part of the Sunrisers Hyderabad support staff in the ongoing IPL, has undergone an angioplasty in Madras.
It was reported that the champion off-spinner “had a stent fitted to unblock an artery, and will rejoin Sunrisers Hyderabad when discharged.
He has been the bowling coach and mentor of Sunrisers Hyderabad since 2015. His team has suffered three losses in a row this season.
Dilhara Lokuhettige gets eight-year ban for corruption
Dilhara Lokuhettige had been slapped with corruption charges in April 2019
“The severity of the sanction reflects the seriousness of his offences and his continued refusal to cooperate”
Dilhara Lokuhettige, the former Sri Lanka allrounder, has been banned from all cricket for eight years by the ICC anti-corruption tribunal after being found guilty of breaching the ICC’s anti-corruption code on three counts.
Lokuhettige had been slapped with corruption charges in April 2019, five months after the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) had also charged him. The charges relate to the 2017 T10 tournament played in the UAE, which is why the ECB had been first to lay charges.
In January this year, the tribunal found Lokuhettige guilty of:
Article 2.1.1 – for being party to an agreement or effort to fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspect(s) of a match.
Article 2.1.4 – directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach code article 2.1.
Article 2.4.4 – failing to disclose to the ACU full details of any approaches or invitations received to engage in corrupt conduct under the code.
“Having represented Sri Lanka in international cricket, Dilhara had attended a number of anti-corruption education sessions and would have known his actions were a breach of the Code,” Alex Marshall, the ICC general manager – anti corruption, said. “The severity of the sanction reflects the seriousness of his offences and his continued refusal to cooperate and should serve as a deterrent for anyone considering getting involved in corruption of any kind.”
An Al Jazeera documentary on cricket corruption in Sri Lanka had initially raised concerns about Lokuhettige. In that, Lokuhettige was seen to be in the room when another former Sri Lanka cricketer was talking to an alleged corruptor, as well as an Al Jazeera journalist posing as a prospective bettor.
Former Sri Lanka seamer Nuwan Zoysa was also found guilty of three corruption-related offences to do with that T10 tournament in November last year. Zoysa has since denied any wrongdoing.
Zoysa and Lokuhettige are the third and fourth former Sri Lanka players to be charged with corruption. Sanath Jayasuriya was the most high-profile cricketer to cop charges, and has served out a two-year suspension from the game, while former offspinner and sometime Galle curator Jayananda Warnaweera was the first to be charged with corruption by the ICC.
As Lokuhettige has been living in Australia and held no positions with Sri Lankan cricket, he has not faced a sanctions from the SLC so far.
He played 11 white-ball internationals for Sri Lanka, picking up eight wickets to go with 101 runs with the bat. His last competitive game was a first-class fixture for Moors Sports Club in February 2016.
Royal, Trinity march into semis as Ahan continues top form
Royal College marched into the semi-finals of the Under-19 Division I Tier ‘A’ tournament with a convincing six wickets victory over Nalanda as they stopped the team inclusive of at least two leading players of the tournament at the quarter-final hurdle on Monday.
Chasing 190 runs to win, the tournament’s leading batsman Ahan Wickramasinghe scored an unbeaten 71 runs for Royal to seal the semi-final place with 11 overs to spare. Dasis Manchanayake who took three Nalanda wickets also chipped in with 22 runs.
Wickramasinghe has scored over 400 runs now in six matches. Raveen de Silva who scored an unbeaten half century and Vinuja Ranpul who chipped in with 22 runs for Nalanda are the tournament’s second and third highest run scorers. .
In the other Tier ‘A’ quarter-final played on Monday, Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s, Moratuwa by seven wickets to book their semi-final place.
While Royal meet the winners of the match between St. Anthony’s, Katugastota and Mahanama, Colombo in the semi-final, Trinity will encounter the winners of the quarter-final between Richmond and St. Joseph’s.
In the Division II Tier ‘A’ tournament, Lyceum International School, Wattala continued their impressive run as they edged out Rahula College, Matara in the quarter-final.
Division I Tier A
Royal beat Nalanda at Mount Lavinia
189 for 7 in 50 overs (Rashan Dissanayake 30, Nadil Jayakody 32, Vinuja Ranpul 22, Raveen de Silva 59n.o.; Dasis Manchanayake 3/17)
191 for 4 in 39 overs (Sineh Jayawardena 60, Isiwara Dissanayake 21, Ahan Wickramasinghe 71n.o., Dasis Manchanayake 22; Dineth Samaraweera 2/32)
Trinity beat St. Sebastian’s at Reid Avenue
131 all out in 43.2 overs (Yashan Avishka 51, Savindu Rodrigo 30; Dinuka Thennakoon 4/23, Abishek Anandakumar 3/37)
133 for 3 in 30.1 overs (Thevin Amarasinghe 39, Umair Raizan 60, Pawan Pathiraja 21n.o.; Sadeesh Fernando 3/39)
Division II Tier ‘A’
Lyceum beat Rahula at Darley Road
148 all out in 42.1 overs (Gamitha Pawan 61, Jaron Fernando 20, Theekshana Shehan 26; Binura Sanketh 2/17, Sandew Rithmaka 3/27)
117 all out in 42.2 overs (Tharindu Rajapaksha 52, Binura Sanketh 24; Mohammed Rifnaz 2/23, Mithush Lakshman 3/14)
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