Skeletons come forth at Sri Lanka Cricket probe
16 officials named on World Cup jaunt in Australia
A thundering investigative Report has blown the lid off Sri Lanka’s secret world of cricket administration whose swashbuckling keepers and larger-than-life players have now been cornered well and truly two months after the T20 World Cup debacle in Australia.
The 64-page damning Report, that put all other national issues on the back-foot in the wake of a high profile probe team that was headed by retired High Court Judge Kusala Sarojani Weerawardena, has all the ingredients for a major shake-up that puts its architect Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe in a situation to act now or never.
The Report has virtually chronicled how the rich pickings available in cricket administration had been squandered over the years with special emphasis on last year’s T20 World Cup in Australia where officials using public funds enriched themselves while the bandwagon was further rocked by players indulging in sex episodes, casino brawls and business dealings all in the name of Sri Lanka.
Former captain Mahela Jayawardena, the team consultant, has according to the Report indulged in expanding his restaurant chain known as Crab Ministry by commissioning an outlet in Australia while team manager Mahinda Halangoda who tolerated player misconduct attempted to cover up the casino brawl by claiming the players had visited the gambling centre to consume dinner as all restaurants were closed after 8 pm.
The Report while calling for the harshest punishment on misbehaving players has also noted that each official of Sri Lanka Cricket who made the trip to Australia had received Rs. 250,000 for a day as pocket money.
Sri Lankan cricket officials are known to travel business class, put up in the finest of super elite luxury hotels and consume the best of food and drink unlike any other time in their own country.
Several former players, some of them members of the winning World Cup team of 1996, told the Sunday Observer that the Report showcased a complete breakdown of values and responsibility at the offices of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) that eventually paved the way for what they said was a “free-for-all” among players with their guardians or keepers failing to set the appropriate course.
A former employee of SLC who was privy to many aspects of administration told the Sunday Observer that although the skeletons in the cupboard had come out with the Report very little is likely to change.
“Merrymaking and politics (at SLC) is not something that took place yesterday or the day before,” he said. “It has been going on for years or decades and some people who did not own a rickshaw when they entered the (cricket) board now own posh cars”, he said on condition that he not be named for obvious reasons.
He also questioned why no one in high authority was interested in probing why the failure rate of the current Sri Lanka team outweighs the success rate while claiming that a club mafia was at work in deciding the course of the team or who plays in it or is kept out.
Sixteen officials who made the trip to Australia were Shammi Silva, Mohan de Silva, Ashley de Silva, Jayantha Dharmadasa, Raveen Wickremaratne, Lasantha Wickremasinghe, Sujeewa Godaliyadde, Krishantha Kapuwatte, Janaka Pathirana, Thilak Wattuhewa, Samantha Dodanwela, Priyantha Algama, Bandula Dissanayake, Nalin Aponso, Jerome Jayaratne and Rear Admiral Nishantha de Silva.
Retired judge Weerawardena’s Report also states that high ranking cricket officials Jayantha Dharmadasa and Raveen Wickremaratne among others had disregarded notices calling on them to appear before the probe team.