By Reeves Neydorff –
Looking back at the recently concluded WC and how (or how not) Sri Lanka cricket planned, prepared and executed the entire campaign that resulted in an unceremonious exit in the quarter final raises serious questions and concerns about how cricket had been managed by the present day administrators. Every time our cricketers embark on a major tour or tournament, it always seems as if they are already defeated even before they play their first match. Everyone remembers the contract dispute and threats SLC made to our cricketers right before they left for the T20 WC. Even this time around, the ill-advised Indian tour and a selection policy that only a few within SLC could comprehend had put us on the back foot. If that was not bad enough, almost every administrative decision during the tournament only made things even worse for the team.
The ignominious end to our WC dream and the sad end to the careers of our greatest cricketing hero’s was a huge disappointment to millions of fans. However, it seems like the ending that a certain group had secretly wished for. The return of the world cup was an anathema to them! Were our boys to bring the cup home, their grip on the golden goose of SLC would have then been uncertain,and their positions threatened. The mere thought of being overshadowed as the sole winners of the WC and thereby a certain loss of stature and power added to their apprehension.
This brings us to The Golden Goose. The goose that lays rotten eggs for the cricket loving public, but is a goldmine and a source of power and enormous influence for others. The Honorary ownership is now being eyed for sole ownership by a single family. Our erstwhile secretary has blatantly expressed his ambition and according to all available sources is being backed by his brother, the Hon. Minister for Ports Arjuna Ranatunga. The captain cool, who was once quite vociferous about SLC affairs, has completely changed his rhetoric since the Jan 8 elections. Now he is being rewarded with more power and his rejoining the SLFP is part of a well laid out plan to control the Cricket Board. The rapprochement of the three brothers with others lurking in the wings is an ominous sign of things to come. Politics, the bane of cricket, is now about to deliver the coupe de grace. The goose will be truly cooked then, for the cricket loving public.
The unpopular secretary has already announced his ambition to contest for the presidency of SLC at the upcoming elections. This announcement surely must have been very unsettling to our cricketers in particular and the cricket loving public in general. With the political sagacity and business skills garnered under his former master, this man who single handedly has brought disgrace and disrepair to our beloved sport, now seeks to preside over its administration, with all the political support of his brothers.
The very man whom the “elder Ranatunge” excoriated continuously on national TV and now seeks to protect, the man who has ridden roughshod over one and all, and was a main player in the Rajapaksa regime, now intends to take the Golden goose by the throat. His beneficiaries are many and he has riddled cricket’s administration with his stooges, creating posts for some and engineering coups against others, yet again with the help of his former masters. His feats in the club circuit are legendary and many will be his supporters since they have benefited during his tenure. This is the “network of terror” that he controls. With influence he derived from his total control of Cricket, this man used SLC cricket as his personal fiefdom to make fortunes for himself and others at the expense of SLC.
The infamous secretary was blessed with other lucrative posts that he held in direct conflict with his SLC position. His expenditure in illegal and unethical travels abroad, all on SLC’s ticket are phenomenal. These travels were never in the interests of SLC ,but to carry out his own nefarious activities and others, in support of his former masters and his connections with corporate wheeler dealers. He was one of the masterminds behind the CSN’s Sri Lanka Cricket TV deal. His mafia like control of the club election process was instrumental in his repeatedly uncontested appointments for posts at SLC.
Some of his appointments to manufactured posts for his supporters leave a lot to be desired, particularly within womens cricket which has been riddled with sex scandals. It is rumored that Mohan de Silva, the current VP SLC and one time Tilanga supporter who jumped ship to NR’s side for personal gain, is now hiding in Australia after being embroiled in yet another sex scandal at the SLC. Mohan was caught accidentally sending a love note intended for a female employee via sms to his wife. Mohan is tipped to be Nishantha’s running mate. Nishantha Ranatunga’s connection with past BCCI president Srinivasan ties in with our crickets misfortunes. Nishantha is said to be a close associate of Srinivasan’s son in law Guruappan, who has been accused of and prosecuted for match fixing. Nishantha is said to have purchased of a house in Australia with monies earned through his questionable conduct and perhaps through his dealings with Guruappan. Nishantha is also well known for his illegal use of SLC resources and staff for his election and the haphazard distribution of SLC funds to clubs that support him. The man’s ambition to control the fortunes of Sri Lanka cricket and keep firm control of the Golden Goose knows no bounds.
Arjuna Ranatunga’s well-deserved celebrity status from his cricketing heroics is now under a huge threat. As a politician he always maintained a clean and cool image. His family has cleverly used their father’s political name and Arjuna’s cricket and have managed to get other family members in to politics, strengthening the family domain. The Ranatunga’s have also very cleverly positioned their political influence in both camps, thus ensuring the best of both worlds! However, Arjuna might be just about to make the biggest political mistake of his career. That image cultured over the years is about to come under closer scrutiny with his sudden support for his infamous brother at SLC. Was the offer to control the Golden Goose too much to resist? Has his ambition gotten the better of him? Corruption comes cloaked in many disguises, but the lust for power and a man’s naked ambition is hard to conceal! The country and its people suffered for years under the Rajapakse mafia. Sadly, its cricket loving public is now suffering from the Ranatunga mafia that is slowly but surely swallowing our cricket!
This now brings us to the up coming elections to control SLC. According to credible information, Nishantha’s attempt to claim the presidency will be challenged by the Dhamadasa/Sumathipala team. The prospect of further interference in our cricket matters by this ghoul Nishantha, who has possessed our highest cricketing body like an evil spirit, chills the public to the very bone. It is said by a credible insider that many would heave a big sigh of relief at his exit. ”Getting rid of this baggage” were the words used by an insider. The Dharmadasa/Sumathipala team is said to be assured of over a hundred votes which is sure to derail Ranatunges bid. But recent utterances by Arjuna Ranatunge is disturbing to say the least. Arjuna should first be asked to explain his volte face regarding SLC affairs and his brother’s questionable dealings. The man who always maintained the mister clean image and who was most vociferous leading upto the elections is now by all appearances set to support his brothers bid and thereby regain control of crickets administrative mechanisms. We would love some clarification and some openness and a straight bat! After all this is all about cricket! Does Arjuna now consider his brothers bid as suitable and ethical? Does he now consider his brothers actions up to date as forgiveable and is he qualified to claim and maintain such a position? What is the Minister of sport’s reaction to the Ranatunge bid?
The Dharmadasa/Sumathipala opposition to Nishantha is said to be sure of at least a hundred votes which is sure to derail Nishantha’s bid. But then again the might of a political party and a powerful minister brother backing you makes his bid more formidable than it appears. This the opposition will have to bear that in mind. The two term limit may not apply as this is for a different position. Ranatungas past antics in fermenting coups should always be remembered. His coup that ousted Mathivanan is just only one in his successful attempts to control the voting process. His hand in the ousting of Dharmadasa is yet another in a long line of questionable dealings and hiscontesting unopposed using yet his influence of his contacts with the former ruling elite. There are several allegations made which need answers and some of which are familiar to us and some provided to me by several credible sources. I hope the Elder Ranatunge will prove me wrong and take his brother to task on some of these issues and thereby preserve his image and the respect of many of his admirers.