Inside Story

Charlie Austin to be appointed as Consultant at Sri Lanka Sports Council?

Written by N Krishnamurthy

Charlie Austin, the controversial manager of many top cricketers in the country, is speculated to be hired as highly paid employee at Sri Lanka National Sports Council, Cricket Age reliably learns.

Last month Namal Rajapaksa, after taking over as Sports Minister, appointed a high-profile National Sports Council, chaired by former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene. The committee also consists of Kumar Sangakkara, along with many othe’s from the corporate sector!

According to sources, during one of the meeting via video conferencing, one of the influential member of the Council proposed the idea to appoint a paid employee.

“It was roughly proposed and no particular name was discussed. In next few weeks, we can expect that there might be something concrete on this (appointing a paid employee)” a source, close to few Council members, told Cricket Age.

However, as soon the said inside discussion leaked, the speculation started making the rounds in Sri Lanka cricket circle that it is Charlie Austin, who would be brought as a paid employee at Sports Council.

Presently a manager of all rounder Angelo Mathews and Fast Bowler Lasith Malinga, Austin enjoys a cult status among the Sri Lanka players. He came to Sri Lanka as a technical officer, later married to a local woman and settled down there. In the beginning, Charlie had stayed at the home of an umpire who is no more, functioned as a journalist and got friendly with the national cricketers, and then became their manager. Then, around 2005, he agreed to managing a then Sri Lanka player on a part-time basis. Six months later another top player called too. With more agency work coming in (Lasith Malinga joined the stable in 2005) and  one of his client became national team captain, Austin ceased writing in 2006 and established Austin Management. A decade and half on, he has become the go to man for majority of Sri Lanka players.

“We’re of similar age, we have all grown up and learnt together and have similar interests and all became good friends. The trust is there and we basically do everything for them, including their travel and all the logistics. Beyond contracts and negotiations, we have secured land, assisted with their businesses, run their charities. We become their PA” Austin had told in one of the Interview some years ago.

Insiders at Sri Lanka cricket claims that Austin earned big bucks during the first edition of cash-rich Indian Premier League (IPL), as each player had to pay his Management firm a certain percentage, for playing in the Indian extravaganza.

However, his bubble was burst by Sri Lanka’s most Iconic captain Arjuna Ranatunga (few others, who couldn’t ever win a single meaningful trophy for their country under their leadership, also self-proclaims themselves as successful, shrewd Sri Lanka captains), who was the chairman of the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) interim committee back then. Later, Ranatunga raised question about growing interference of players managers in Sri Lanka cricket in the parliament as well, aiming Austin. Another former captain Tilakaratne Dilshan too made a revelation about Austin, without directly mentioning his name, during a television program. Dilshan said that after he personally negotiated an IPL contract, a certain manager had sent him a letter demanding a 10 per cent commission. Dilshan said he replied to him that it was a contract he had secured on his own.

At present, though Austin officially manages only Mathews and Malinga, Sri Lanka Cricket insiders says that due to the strong stance from the SLC, he has gone behind the scene. According to sources, under his control, one of his close friend Shyam Impett runs the show now. There also also accusations against Austin that he has floated an Inbound tour company named Red Dot Travels, which brings English fans during their team’s matches in Sri Lanka, using players complimentary tickets.

In last few years, many other agents have also emerged like Mushrooms in Sri Lanka cricket. Ravi De Silva, who has studied along with SLC CEO Ashley De Silva, is the manager of several top cricketers including test captain Dimuth Karunaratne, Kusal Perera and Dhananjaya De Silva. Meanwhile, Asanka Wijewardena, manager for Dhanushka Gunatilake, Kusal Mendis and Jeffrey Vandersay, is said to be assisted in the task by a relative of former captain Mathews.

However, in recent times, the SLC has toughen it’s stance on players managers, in order to avoid any possibility of manipulation and match fixing.

“When a single person has multiple players, who plays for the national team at the same time, as clients, it’s not good for the dressing room environment, as well as for the team selection. One can’t rule the possibility of match fixing even. That’s why, in recent times, we have been very cautious about these managers” a top SLC official told Cricket Age.

Inputs Credit: Srilankatwo, Sri Lanka Mirror



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N Krishnamurthy