Former secretary pleads President Rajapaksa to save Sri Lanka Cricket
In my opinion, the President of Sri Lanka is the only person who can rescue Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) from the depths of ignominy, corruption and bankruptcy it has fallen.
In the evening of my life I would appeal to the President to resuscitate this dying patient that is gasping for breath, with no money to buy its own medicine, by injecting the necessary life-saving medicine, and bring it back to normal health.
As a person who has served in the Executive Committee of the Board of Control for Cricket (BCCSL) for over 25 years, in various capacities such as Vice President, Honorary Secretary, Chairman of various Sub-committees and as Manager of Sri Lanka Cricket teams on 5 occasions, I would like to see the former glory of Sri Lanka Cricket which we were so proud of, restored back to its pristine best.
Unfortunately for Sri Lanka Cricket, the Ministry of Sports believes that SLC belongs to the State. It must be clearly understood that it is not so. Notwithstanding the horrendous Sports law of 1973, everyone in this country must understand that the Sri Lanka Cricket Board belongs to none other than the Member Clubs and Associations who had painstakingly through their subscriptions and other selfless services built up this institution, from 1926 (when the Ceylon Cricket Association was formed) up to 1996, when the Sri Lanka Cricket team brought glory to the entire country by winning the World Cup.
We must remember with reverence the selfless services rendered on a voluntary basis during this period of 70 years, by the elected Office Bearers by these member Clubs and Associations and the members of various Sub committees. These members not only gave of their time and energy but also spent out of their own pockets to promote this game of Cricket in this country.
I remember with nostalgia the memories of the tremendous contributions and sacrifices made towards Cricket by some of the stalwarts of yesteryear who served the BCCSL during my period service in the Cricket Board, and who have predeceased me, namely, Robert Senanayake, General B. R. Heyn, Dr. N.M. Perera, T. B. Werapitiya, Gamini Dissanayake, Lakshman Jayakody and Tyronne Fernando. (former Presidents) , T. Murugesar and Shelley Wickremasinghe ( former Vice Presidents) V. J. H. Gunasekera, Trevor Jansz, Nisal Senaratne, Dennis Hapugalle, S. Pathmanathan and M. R. Naina Marikkar(former Hony. Secretaries) M. K. M. Ismail, A. R. M. Hathy and A. C. M. Rauff (former Hony Treasurers)
It should be noted that during this entire period, the Annual General Meetings of the BCCSL were held regularly and the Annual Audited Accounts were presented at every A.G.M. in accordance with the constitution of the BCCSL Unfortunately, with the game gaining popularity, politicians started interfering with the BCCSL.
It all started with the enactment of the infamous Sports Law in 1973. The first two casualties as a result of the Sports law was Mr Robert Senanayake (President of the then BCCSL) and myself as Hony. Secretary.
The primary target of the Sports law was of course Mr. Robert Senanayake who had been the president of BCCSL for a continuous period of 15 years and who was the brother of Mr. Dudley Senanayake.
The redeeming feature however, was that the first Sports Minister was Mr K. B. Ratnayake a thorough gentleman, and never interfered unnecessarily with the affairs of the BCCSL. But the real trauma in the BCCSL started after Sri Lanka won the Cricket World Cup, and vultures mainly in the form of politicians wanted to get a taste of the money that was flowing in millions of dollars.
When the Sports Ministry saw that it had no control over a democratically elected team of officials representing all the Cricket Clubs and Associations islandwide, it dissolved the democratically elected Cricket Board in 2004 and appointed an Interim Committee to carry out the functions of the former Cricket Board. The calamity that followed is now history.
The recent COPE report names the Sri Lanka Cricket Board as the most corrupt institution among the several hundred institutions that have come before it for scrutiny.
The Ministry of Sports must take full responsibility for all the corruption and complete collapse of this institution. When member Clubs and Associations were running Sri Lanka Cricket, Audited Accounts were presented every year. It has been reported that the Audited accounts had not been presented for the entire period of 6 years during which Interim Committees controlled the affairs of the SLC.
It is absolutely necessary that the new Executive Committee that is elected in January ensures that the audited accounts during this period is made available to all member Clubs and Associations and that all the culprits who were responsible for playing out Cricket Board funds are prosecuted.
I would suggest that on the day of the A.G.M. all Member Clubs and Associations sign a letter to the President of the country requesting him to intervene and see that Sri Lanka Cricket is made solvent again so that the tens of thousands of young Cricketers who do not even have the basic facilities such as grounds etc., will be able to restore the lost image of Cricket in a not more distant future.
Finally, as the person who was largely responsible for bringing India and Pakistan together, to combine with Sri Lanka to bid for the World Cup in the subcontinent in 1996, and the one who decided on the venues for Sri Lanka after discussion with the BCCSL Executive committee at the time, I must categorically state that there was absolutely no necessity to spend a COLLOSAL sum of over 6 Billion rupees for the preparation of grounds for the last World Cup.
On a personal note, I would like to give an extract of the letter I received from the Chairman of our Joint Bid Committee for the 1996 World Cup after the International Cricket Council awarded the staging of the World Cup to India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, which very few even in the Cricket circles are aware of.
Mr. Jagmohan Dalmiya who later became the President of the BCCI and the Chairman of the ICC says inter alia in his letter addressed to me, dated February 9th 1993 as follows:
Quote: "I would like to thank you for all the hard work that you did in the last few months to make the joint bid of Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka successful. In fact, without your crucial role in the ICC meeting in London on February 2, 1993, the "cake' would not have come to this subcontinent. In the meeting, we observed how you intervened on time, and placed your opinion forcefully, even in the face of strong opposition from the other side.
The success of the Joint Bid owes a lot to your hard work and efficiency. etc. etc.
As an Octogenarian, I would like to place on record the appreciation of a former Chairman of the ICC for the sake of posterity.
Neil Perera – Former secretary (BCCSL)