Court issues stay order to prevent Ranatunga-led interim committee from taking over

Court issues stay order to prevent Ranatunga-led interim committee from taking over

Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) administrative unrest took another turn on Tuesday when the country’s appeal court issued a 14-day stay order preventing the government Gazette appointing an “interim committee” from coming into effect. The move had been spearheaded by the country’s sports minister, Roshan Ranasinghe, but had been appealed by SLC president Shammi Silva.

However, it seems that this is no longer a purely sporting issue, as before the court ruling it had already been brought to the highest levels of the Sri Lankan government: the office of Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe. The matter was finally discussed by the cabinet of ministers on Monday and even debated in the parliamentary session on Tuesday.

According to numerous reports, President Wickremesinghe learned of the decision to appoint an interim committee only through the media. Ranasinghe, for his part, has argued that the decision rested solely with the Sports Minister and did not require the approval of the cabinet or the president.

However, following the presentation of the matter in the cabinet meeting, in which Ranasinghe was also present, it was decided to appoint a four-member sub-committee, headed by Foreign Minister Ali Sabry, to investigate the SLC.

“The cabinet has resolved to appoint a special sub-committee with the mandate to examine the current situation and work collaboratively with relevant stakeholders, including inputs from esteemed former cricketers,” a statement from the president’s press office said. “The primary objective of this sub-committee is to recommend immediate and feasible 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 Silva-led board of embezzlement and financial mismanagement, remains optimistic about his desire for the Arjuna Ranatunga-led interim committee to chair the SLC.

Speaking to local media on Monday, he stated: “These are people who enjoy public money. If the president, the attorney general and the inspector general of police help me, the entire SLC committee will be in prison for at least 15 years”.

However, there are notable concerns about how the ICC would respond to such a move, something the president is said to be aware of. Under Sri Lankan sports law, the government has the power to dissolve the governing body of any sport, a power it has used several times in SLC over the past 20 years. But during the most recent interim committee’s term, which it chaired for about a year between 2014 and 2015, the ICC refused to disburse payments owed to SLC and kept those funds in escrow until a new board was elected. SLC was also demoted to observer status at ICC board meetings in that period.

Meanwhile, it is still unclear who will appear as a representative of the SLC at the next ICC board meeting in two weeks’ time.