Sri Lankan cricket

Sri Lanka's interim board dissolved, Ranatunga sacked

Sa'adi Thawfeeq

December 23, 2008

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Controversies during Ranatunga's tenure
  • April: Media manager Samantha Algama is sacked and replaced by former SSC cricketer Shane Fernando.
    - A five-match ODI series against Pakistan is arranged which clashes with the inaugural IPL.
    - Criticises IPL by comparing Twenty20 cricket to 'instant noodles'.
  • July-August - Antagonises Indian board by inviting banned Sri Lankan ICL players to the podium for award ceremony during Sri Lanka-India Test and ODI series.
    - Hashan Tillakaratne, who was appointed by Ranatunga as manager of the national team, is replaced two days into the job by the sports minister.
  • September Signs MoU with ECB to send Sri Lanka team to England in April-May 2009. The tour clashes directly with second IPL tournament. Series fails to materialise after sports minister intervenes on IPL-contracted players' request.
    - Indian board says it will provide cash-strapped SLC US$70m over a 10-year period but is concerned at 'totally unjustified' hostility of Sri Lankan management. At an IPL meeting in Bangkok, Indian delegation reportedly says there will be no deal as long as Ranatunga is chairman.
  • October: Interim Committee fails to take decision on Badureliya CC relegation/promotion incident. Issue drags on for five weeks before it is finally resolved by the Sports Council.
  • December: Sixteen SLC employees who are dismissed by Ranatunga appeal to the President and sports minister, who overrules the sackings as the decision was taken without consulting him.
    - Sports minister dissolves Interim Committee.
Bottom Curve

Sri Lanka's sports minister Gamini Lokuge has dissolved the interim administration of Sri Lanka Cricket, headed by Arjuna Ranatunga, saying the situation at SLC demanded an immediate change.

The sports secretary, S Liyanagama, will oversee the SLC administration until a decision is taken - within the next week, Lokuge said - on whether to call for elections or to appoint another interim administration.

"Arjuna Ranatunga has not been cooperating with the company or the players," Lokuge was quoted as saying by PTI. "We tried to sort it out but could not and he has been removed."

The immediate issue was the sacking of 16 SLC employees by Ranatunga last week. At the time, SLC officials explained the decision by saying those sacked were holding positions no longer required by the organisation. However, the decision was apparently taken without informing the minister, directly contravening his order that he be consulted on every move.

Rantunga accepted the minister's decision and said he did not want to comment on the issue. "I only wanted to make the SLC a clean place and serve cricketers," Ranatunga told Sri Lanka's Daily News. "I did not go there to do any politics."

Ranatunga, appointed to the post in January 2008 after Jayantha Dharmadasa decided to step down, has had a controversial tenure. Perhaps his most controversial decision was negotiating a tour of England that would overlap with the second season of the IPL, to which many of the players are contracted. Ranatunga said his cash-strapped board badly needed the US$2 million which the ECB was offering as guarantee money for the tour. After a protracted tussle, the tour was eventually called off with West Indies slotted in to replace Sri Lanka.

Ranatunga has been a vocal critic of the IPL, once comparing it once to instant noodles, and antagonised the Indian board by stating that India lost the first Test to Sri Lanka in July because they played too much Twenty20 cricket. He also sought tighter control for the national board over player contracts with the IPL.

In September, the SLC broke ranks with the official cricketing establishment by deciding to allow five cricketers and an umpire who had signed up for the unauthorised ICL to play domestic cricket.

Ranatunga met Sri Lanka president Mahinda Rajapakse on Tuesday and it was widely speculated that he would be given a ministerial post.

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