Sri Lanka news January 3, 2012

Dharmadasa elected unopposed in SLC elections


Upali Dharmadasa has been elected unopposed as president of Sri Lanka Cricket, along with the rest of his team, in the board's first election in seven years. The election, overseen by the sports ministry, was marked by the late withdrawal of all opposition candidates.

Nishantha Ranatunga was voted in uncontested as secretary and Nuski Mohamed was elected treasurer. The only election to be contested was for the post of assistant treasurer, with Ajitha Pasqual defeating Susantha Fernando. All those elected will serve a one-year term.

Mohan de Silva, one of the candidates for vice-president, told ESPNcricinfo that the entire opposition had decided not to contest the elections as a "symbolic gesture of protest" against what they saw as political interference in the election process. "Most of our member clubs and associations brought to our notice that there was undue pressure put on them to change the delegates [who would vote]."

According to him, they brought the matter to the notice of the Director General of Sports, Ranjani Jayakody, who was overseeing the election, but she told them she was going to accommodate all changes until the morning of the elections even though the deadline to nominate the delegates had passed.

In light of her decision, and to safeguard what de Silva called "the gentleman's game", he and his team decided to withdraw. "This is not an election held for a government institution. This is an independent institution," he said. "So it becomes a farce. Therefore all of us decided this election is not conducted in a free and fair manner."

However Jayakody, denied that there had been any pressure and said the delegates represented the views of clubs and therefore their individual preferences were not of any consequence. "The concerned parties can take necessary legal action," she told reporters. "I held a fair election."

Despite his views on the election, De Silva said they intended to support the new committee and work together for the progress of the game since Sri Lankan cricket is going through a difficult situation. "There is no animosity," he said.

The biggest challenge the new committee faces is that the board is about $70 million in debt, following stadium-related expenses for the 2011 World Cup, including the construction of two new stadia in Pallekele and Hambantota and the renovation of the Premadasa Stadium.

Dharmadasa acknowledged the magnitude of the problem and said it "will be a struggle for about five years" for SLC to get back on its financial feet. He is hopeful that the government will come to the sport's aid in the short term, and that SLC can raise significant revenues from India's tour in July and the World Twenty20 tournament in September. He also intends to execute a cost-cutting plan that will reduce administrative overheads by as much as 60%.

The high cost over-runs are being blamed on the interim DS de Silva administration, in which Ranatunga also served as SLC secretary. The stadia are now being maintained by the government, with the army, navy and air force each looking after one stadium. The players were not paid for eight months between the 2011 World Cup final and the Test series in South Africa, and are still owed over 50% of their salaries for that period.

The press conference was held inside the Ministry of Sports, and both the Director General and Dharmadasa were subjected to extended questioning (in Sinhalese) by a number of reporters. In the absence of a moderator, each journalist was free to ask multiple follow-up questions. In one instance, a reporter asked the new president five or six consecutive questions, but Dharmadasa appeared happy to answer all of them. Most of the questions dealt with the circumstances surrounding the election and SLC's financial situation.

Dharmadasa was president of SLC from 1996 to 1998 and also headed the last interim board before it was dissolved. Since 2004, the SLC has been run by interim committees - nine in all - controlled by the government, and the election itself is a fallout of the ICC's ruling that requires all member boards to be free of political interference from 2012.

Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anura on January 4, 2012, 21:51 GMT

    Finally we have a person who had done so much for cricket in the past and who really loves the game. Upali had supported SL cricket for the last 30 years by way of employing 100s of cricketers and really looking after them and helped SL cricket in many other ways and I am sure he will do his best to uplift SL cricket to best of his abilities. Also, he is a top Entrepreneur in the country and I am sure he will run SLC as a business and make it profitable soon. Good Luck Upali.

  • Sarath on January 3, 2012, 22:30 GMT

    straight from schools by dropping all underperforming seniors. Even if a player of Sir Don Bradman's class is not performing well, the right thing to do is to drop him and give his place to a promising youngster who is in line. It has not been happening totally due to the incompetency of selectors appointed during the last 20 years or more.

  • Sarath on January 3, 2012, 22:30 GMT

    The removal of selectors who are very much ignorant of the Game is first & foremost. The profession of selecting is meant for intelligent, knowledgeable wealthy experienced Cricketers (the likes of SSkanderKumar, Madugalle,Mevan Peiris,Micheal de Zoysa…)who are well versed in all aspects of the Game. The selectors of last 2&1/2 decades have done a great damage as far the Country is concerned due to their incompetency of not picking the correct talent at the right times. They haven't even knew where to look for talent and weren't aware the importance and value of a Schoolboy Cricketer who have maintained consistency from very young age as 15 or less, as a result many a skillful brilliant cricketers emerged during the last 2&1/2 decades have gone astray and have been a great lost to the country. Players the class of Chandimal,Angelo Perera, Dimuth, Thirimanne, Bhanuka , Rosen,Sachithra Senanayake,Malinda Pushpakumara,Jayampathi,…should have been brought (TO BE CNTD)

  • Shehan on January 3, 2012, 18:07 GMT

    It's politics as usual in SL cricket. Mr.Dharmadasa is the SL Presidents man. And behind him will be the Presidents eldest son. Sad but true.

  • Chris on January 3, 2012, 15:37 GMT

    Congratulations Mr. Upali D. Your first step is to get rid of the current selectors and stop political cricketers influencing the selectors.

  • Dummy4 on January 3, 2012, 15:27 GMT

    Hope Dharamadasa and co will rejuvenate the SL Cricket Board in all aspects. Wish you good luck.. I am a staunch supporter of SL Team..My dear SL friends can someone plz tell me where are these guys n if they are fit enough to play for SL:

    Nuwan Zoysa, Michael Vandort, Jehan Mubarak, Malinga Bandara, Thilina Kandamby, Farveez Maharoof, Shaminda Eranga, Upul Tharanga and Chamara Silva.

  • Dummy4 on January 3, 2012, 15:01 GMT

    I hope no one is blaming BCCI for this incident!

  • Dummy4 on January 3, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    Difficult to expect drastic changes as old cat hands seems to be acting behind the screen to get whatever they want. In fact the whole idea of bringing a new outlook to the SL cricket has evaporated when the committee is appointed uncontested.This is like a politicly appointed committee again.What is that Nishantha Ranatunga who is a known culprit of the calamity SLC face today doing again there.These are suspicious moves and much needed change is far from achieving sadly.

  • Dummy4 on January 3, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    All the best mr dharmadasa!You can do it!

  • Malaka on January 3, 2012, 12:26 GMT

    What to do Politian's continue to interfere in SLC matters. They will never learn.

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