However, ESPNcricinfo understands that the ICC has not yet made a decision on the Under-19 World Cup and will discuss holding that tournament only at the next board meeting on November 21. It is learned that there was also no discussion within the ICC about suspending SLC in July.
According to Silva, ICC Vice President Imran Khwaja had shown special interest in possible political interference in Sri Lanka. “About five months ago, the ICC came here when there was news of political interference and conducted an investigation,” Silva said. “Mr Imran Khwaja met the minister and the president (of Sri Lanka) and told them that the ICC would take it seriously if this is not checked properly. [the suspension] It’s not something that happens in one or two days.
“Khwaja arrived on May 10. Later I went to an ICC meeting from July 10 to 14. In his report, he says that Sri Lankan cricket is being politically abused. Then they told me that we have a few options: either we ban Sri Lanka. Lanka, stop cricket in Sri Lanka, or stop money to Sri Lanka. I told them not to do that. So we were actually going to be suspended between July 10 and 14, and [SLC officials] prevented it.”
According to information held by ESPNcricinfo, it was only after SLC complained to the ICC for political interference in November 2022 that Khwaja traveled to Sri Lanka on a fact-finding mission. It is understood that the ICC found no prima facie evidence of direct interference at the time.
The background to this issue is that SLC and the country’s sports minister Roshan Ranasinghe have been in conflict for the past year, with Ranasinghe making allegations of corruption and mismanagement in the cricket board, while Silva and SLC accuse him of meddling in cricket.
Both Silva and Ranasinghe held separate media interactions on Saturday afternoon; Both sides sometimes make personal insults. At Silva’s press conference at the SLC headquarters, he highlighted that both the ICC and the SLC are seeking assurances from the highest level of Sri Lankan politics – the country’s president, essentially – that there will be no further political interference in the functioning of cricket in Sri Lanka. Lanka.
Meanwhile, Ranasinghe outlined the Sports Ministry’s next steps in its bid to get the ICC to lift the SLC suspension. He said the ministry would first contact the ICC’s dispute resolution committee, which is a body within the ICC that reviews appeals from boards on membership issues. If that process fails, Ranasinghe said, the ministry would consider taking the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.
On the domestic front, the ministry will seek a ruling from Sri Lanka’s own courts reinstating the interim committee led by Minister Ranatunga.
It is believed that it was Silva who sought the suspension of the SLC, as a way of putting pressure on the Sri Lankan government. When asked directly about this at the press conference, he said: “I already said this was something that was going to happen for five months. If I can pull strings like that, I have to be an impressive person.”
Earlier in the day, SLC vice-president Ravin Wickramaratne told ESPNcricinfo: “As a full member, we have the right to go to the ICC.”
With contributions from Madushka Balasuriya.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is an editor at ESPNcricinfo. @afidelf