Has time arrived to ban Sumathipala from Cricket?

Written by N Krishnamurthy

If even after a Sports regulation, directive and International Cricket Council (ICC) confirmation on it, Former Sri Lanka Cricket Board (SLC) president Thilanga Sumathipala is not ready to fade away gracefully, then it is the high time for the concerned authorities to ban him from the cricket all together.

Last month, Sri Lanka Sports Minister Harin Fernando issued a gazette amending the National Association of Sports Regulations to ensure that anyone–or any member of his immediate family (being a spouse, parent, sibling, son or daughter or son-in-law or daughter-in-law)–who has an interest in “betting, gaming or wagering, or in a betting gaming or wagering organisation or is employed in the day to day operations of such organisation or organizations” is disqualified from holding office.

It is clear the regulation was directed at Sumathipala who has publicly admitted to his family’s involvement in the betting business but managed to hold office given the ambiguity of the previous regulations. But the new law is well in line with the International Cricket Council’s newly amended Code of Ethics which requires its directors to have no connection whatsoever to gaming and betting industries.

This is a death blow to Sumathipala, the self-proclaimed godfather of Sri Lankan cricket whose dream of getting elected to the highest chair in the ICC now seems shattered. Not only will the local regulation freeze him completely out of the game, the ICC’s new rules will shut him out of its board meetings even if domestic laws are changed in future.

Most importantly, ICC also didn’t take much time in backing Harin Fernando’s New gazette notification. Sally Clark, ICC’s senior legal consultant, immediately wrote to the Ministry of Sports referencing the ICC’s Code of Ethics on Relationships with Betting Organisations which states no director should be connected to the betting or gaming industry.

However, Sumathipala, as usually, is not ready to bow down. By attending SLC EGM last week, he has made it loud and clear that he will stick to his position as immediate past President at SLC.

In meantime, The Committee of Public Enterprises (COPE) of parliament, in its ongoing investigation, has found several financial irregularities in the functioning of SLC so called Cricket Aid initiative. Needless to say, as usually, Cricket Aid was Sumathipala’s brainchild. The COPE has already ordered SLC to suspend Cricket Aid until further inquiry of the fraudulent practice and it is just the beginning of committee’s investigation, which is taking place in parliament.

Sumathipala, though, is still adamant to rule the cricket in Sri Lanka forever, even though his wrongdoings are getting exposed one by one. Reason, all these years in his practice to paralyzed Sri Lanka Cricket, he has been using his manipulation skills with perfection, with the backing of Top politicians of the country.

Thus, he knows that he will be successful in manipulating things once again and will use his political tools for yet another life line.

In this scenario, the only option has been left for concerned authorities is to ban Sumathipala from Cricket all together!



About the author

N Krishnamurthy