Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) administrative crisis took another turn on Tuesday as the country’s court of appeal issued a 14-day stay order preventing the government Gazette that appointed an “interim committee” from taking effect. The move had been spearheaded by the country’s sports minister Roshan Ranasinghe, but had been appealed against by SLC president Shammi Silva.
It, however, appears to be no longer a purely sporting issue as prior to the court’s judgement it had already been escalated to the highest levels of Sri Lankan governance – the office of the Sri Lanka president Ranil Wickremesinghe. The matter was eventually discussed by the cabinet of ministers on Monday and even debated in Tuesday’s parliamentary session.
According to widespread reports, President Wickremesinghe had only learnt of the move to appoint an interim committee through the media. Ranasinghe for his part has argued that the decision was vested solely with the sports minister and did not require the approval of the cabinet or the president.
Nevertheless, following the matter being tabled at the cabinet meeting, where Ranasinghe was also present, it was decided that a four-member sub-committee, headed by foreign minister Ali Sabry, would be appointed to investigate SLC.
“The cabinet has resolved to appoint a special sub-committee with the mandate to examine the current situation and work in collaboration with relevant stakeholders, including input from esteemed former cricketers,” a statement from the president’s media office said. “The primary objective of this sub-committee is to recommend immediate, viable measures to resolve the outstanding issues in Sri Lanka Cricket.”
Speaking in parliament today, Ranasinghe also revealed that the president had asked him to withdraw the appointment of an interim committee. Ranasinghe, who has frequently accused the board headed by Silva of financial misappropriation and mismanagement remains bullish over his desire to see the Arjuna Ranatunga-led interim committee preside over SLC.
Speaking to local media on Monday, he stated: “These are people enjoying public money. If the president, attorney general and the inspector general of police assist me, the entire SLC committee will be in prison for at least 15 years.”
There are notable concerns, however, regarding how the ICC would respond to such a move, something the president is said to be cognisant of. Under Sri Lanka’s sports law, the government has the power to dissolve the governing body of any sport – a power it has used several times on SLC in the last 20 years. But during the time of the most recent interim committee, which presided for roughly a year between 2014 and 2015, the ICC had refused to disburse payments owed to SLC, and held those funds in escrow until a fresh board was elected. SLC was also demoted to observer status at ICC board meetings in that period.
Meanwhile, it remains unclear who will appear as an SLC representative for the next ICC board meeting in two weeks’ time.