A new constitution for clean cricket: Eran

We have a governance issue that we need to rectify by bringing a new constitution for Sri Lanka cricket, said Eran Wickramaratne MP of the SJB, addressing the Parliament today on the adjournment debate on Sri Lanka cricket.

SJB Parliamentarian Hesha Withana had moved a resolution on the alleged irregularities in Sri Lanka cricket involving the T-20 international competition held in Australia in 2022.

Wickramaratne further speaking today (24) on the adjournment debate said that 140 odd clubs are involved in making decisions, when in most countries the number of votes are starting from 7 going up to 38 in India. A new Constitution previously drafted by a team led by a prominent lawyer has been given to the minister.

Those who are in cricket say that the government must not interfere and that they are not accountable to anybody being a private organisation. “Sri Lanka Cricket is not a private organisation as claimed by certain officials of the cricket board. It is a national organisation.” He said that Sri Lanka cricket is owned by the people of Sri Lanka and not by a few individuals or a few associations. Mr. Wickramaratne quoting French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau drew distinction between the “majority vote and the majority will”. There are things that can be done by voting, but ‘majority will’ is not always equal to majority vote, ‘majority will’ supersede, majority vote. People’s representatives in Parliament are raising issues in relation to cricket on behalf of the people of the nation.

He said that the ICC in 2016 bundled four T20s, two 50-over world cups and other matches and commenced negotiations selling their rights. The monetary value is what is distributed among the countries. Sri Lanka was originally getting US$ 80 million and to the credit of Mr. Thilanga Sumathipala, onetime President of the Cricket Board, the sum was renegotiated up to US$ 132 million.

The high stakes in cricket attracts political interest and interference. Earlier today, a former sports minister declared that ‘we must not have political interference in sports’, in which case, ‘should politicians hold positions in sports associations’ quipped Eran.  

He made a reference to a special directive given by Harin Fernando who was sports Minister the time. In July 2019, he asked all cricket coaches of the national team to step down soon

after the Bangladesh ODI. Eran questioned whether politicians should interfere in the appointment and removal of cricketers, coaches, and umpires.

Wickramaratne referred to one-time coach Asanka Gurusinghe who had revealed that there was overwhelming political interference. He had worked with three different sport ministers during a two-year time span and had chosen to quit. Another outstanding cricketer Hathurusinghe who was taken in as a coach had expressed similar sentiments.

We need to embrace ICC’s guiding principles of equity, good conscience, common sense and simplicity, greater transparency, opportunity for every member to grow and recognition of interdependency amongst members. Political interference must end and professionals left alone to handle the sport.

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