Shammi Silva has been elected president of Sri Lanka Cricket. Drawing in 83 out of a possible 142 votes Silva, a candidate backed by former president Thilanga Sumathipala, beat Jayantha Dharmadasa, who received 56 votes.
Despite the many delays and swings in fortune over the course of the last several months, when elections were postponed indefinitely and SLC was run by a sports ministry-appointed Competent Authority, the final tally of votes means essentially the same faces return to power.
Alongside Silva, other members of the previous executive committee in Mohan de Silva and Ravin Wickremaratne have been voted in again, this time as secretary and vice-president respectively. K Mathivanan also returns as vice president, the only member of the Dharmadasa faction to be elected.
The results translate to yet another unhappy election outcome for the brothers Ranatunga. Former World Cup winning captain Arjuna lost out narrowly in the race for vice-president, racking up 72 votes to Wickremaratne's 82 and Mathivanan's 80, while the younger Ranatunga, Nishantha, running for the post of secretary, picked up just 43 votes to de Silva's 96.
The end result is a mere shuffling of the same people, with Sumathipala and Dharmadasa the only major players missing out among the office bearers voted in during SLC's last elections in 2016.
In the race for other positions, Lasantha Wickremasinghe (100 votes) beat Eastman Narangoda (37) to the post of treasurer, while Lalith Rambukwella (92) was voted in ahead of Sanjaya Senarath (42) for assistant treasurer. Chrishantha Kapuwatha (94) was voted in assistant secretary ahead of Hirantha Perera (44).
In the preceding weeks both de Silva, who was set to run for president, and Wickremaratne, who was up for the post of secretary, had been banned by an election appeals committee after being adjudged to have violated Sri Lanka's Sports Law, which as per a 2016 amendment prevents any previous office bearer of a national sports body which had been dissolved by government from contesting in any future elections. The pair had been part of ousted committees in 2001 and 2005.
In response, de Silva and Wickremaratne challenged the ruling in an appeals court, which was where a loophole was discovered. As it transpired, while de Silva and Wickramaratne had put their names in the hat for multiple positions, the objections filed against them had only referenced some of those posts. Essentially, this allowed the pair to contest on the condition that it wasn't for the posts they were banned from.
It is unclear who is at fault for these clerical errors, but in any event it left the legal counsel representing the Sports Ministry no choice but to let de Silva and Wickremaratne contest for the posts of secretary and vice president. The writ petition hearings though are set to continue on 21 March.
This turn of events is thought to have swayed voter sentiment. Until then Silva, a backup candidate to de Silva, was to run for president against Dharmadasa, while the coveted posts of vice president and secretary were set to be run virtually uncontested by those in the Dharmadasa camp - a situation that, had it prevailed, would almost certainly have seen Dharmadasa come out victorious in the presidential stakes.
That events panned out in this manner, while unexpected, was not wholly surprising. Thilanga Sumathipala has long been identified as the most powerful force in Sri Lanka Cricket, and despite not contesting this time around, he has continued to cast a wide shadow. Most notably in the strong voting bloc he possesses, which is likely what eventually won Silva the presidential race.
One of the primary election strategies for Dharmadasa and his camp had been to neutralise this threat. Nishantha Ranatunga's court case against Sumathipala, which eventually led to the latter withdrawing his candidacy, and Dharmadasa's objection to Mohan de Silva's candidacy had seemingly achieved this goal successfully.
So much so that Dharmadasa had been favourite to take the post right up until the eve of the elections. But that late compromise between Sri Lanka's Sports Ministry and the previously disqualified pair of de Silva and Wickremaratne reinstating them in the race, gave the Sumathipala-backed faction the numbers they needed.
It is a scarcely believable fact that Shammi Silva learned of his candidacy for president on the eve of the race; Silva is in essence president by accident. Though by now, not many are in doubt as to who exactly is running the show.