Interim Committee is not an option to run Cricket in Sri Lanka, Structure needs to be changed: Harin Fernando

Written by N Krishnamurthy

Defeats in last four tests, especially in the home series against England, has caused an uproar in Sri Lanka cricket. Namal Rajapaksa, an eager to prove himself Sports Minister who these days sits along with Mahela Jayawardene (and Kumar Sangakkara also, while he was in Sri Lanka. Now, he is in Dubai for his commercially lucrative T10 assignments after making the noise), has already taken both short and long term decisions to arrest the slide of Sri Lanka cricket!

However, even Namal’s immediate action couldn’t convince Maitland Place critics, as they wants an complete overhaul!

However, while in other cricket nations overhaul meant to be the structural changes, in Sri Lanka, for some strange reasons, it’s always associated with a stopgap solution – to appoint an Interim committee.

Indeed, even Interim committee can be a good option if there is no other way, to clean up the system, if it is to be led by someone like legendary Arjuna Ranatunga – the most iconic figure of Sri Lanka cricket! However, in the tiny island, the flag bearers of Interim committees are (apart from Sidath Wettimuny, the most respected Voice of Sri Lanka cricket) those, who have never contributed at grass root level. Neither they are associated with any club, nor they nurture talents for the future (One such flag bearer of Interim committees though nurture players, but he then becomes their manager and reaps the benefits for rest of the life).

These days, when Sri Lanka is at an all time low, these  flag bearers wakes up daily with dreams of interim committee. So, is Interim committee really an option for Sri Lanka cricket in moving forward? Instead of asking this question to those flag bearers with vested interests, Cricket Age directly asked this to a man, who is regarded as best Sports Minister in the history of Sri Lanka – Harin Fernando.

A passionate follower of cricket, During his highly successful tenure Harin had established the sort of rapport with International Cricket Council (ICC), which is hard to match even by an Indian Sports Minister!

In an exclusive chat with Cricket Age, Harin, who knows the functioning and policy of ICC better than anyone else in Sri Lanka, completely punctured the idea of having an interim committee to uplift the standard of Island’s most cherished game!

“Interim Committee is not an option to run cricket in Sri Lanka. Instead, structure needs to be changed as the first priority. In Countries, which respect democracy,  the Sports bodies must be functioned by the elected people” Harin told Cricket Age.

Interestingly, like Harin, Namal has also dismissed the possibility of interim committee, not only once but twice!

“They say that sports should not be politicized, and then again state an Interim Committee should be appointed. Appointing an Interim Committee itself means the Minister is interfering with SLC. Personally, I don’t see appointing Interim Committees as an option” Namal had said during a Development Committee meeting in Matara on January 27.

“I am agree with Namal. Regardless of how much the  minister may want to correct the process, Interim Committee should be the last option” Harin added.

As, it’s pattern in Sri Lanka cricket, during Harin tenure also there were many attempts to bring an interim committee at Maitland Place (two gentlemen particularly had spent months of their retirement life in preparing presentations and dossiers, recommending the interim committees). However, Harin makes it loud and clear that even ICC doesn’t favor Interim committee.

“The ICC constitution clearly says that Ministry should not involve in running the cricket. I was clearly told by the ICC Top brass that like any other Sport, Cricket also must be kept away from the politics” the young and dynamic leader of SJB added.

Harin, in his short tenure as Sports Minister, had achieved new heights, single handedly. He not only implemented certain laws to address the corruption in the game, but also eliminated Sri Lanka cricket’s biggest curse – Thilanga Sumathipala. He had even invited Mahela and Sangakkara also to contribute in developing the game. However, at that time, both former captains were more than convinced that Sri Lanka cricket is on wrong path. Its only after 5 August 2020, when they woke up and suddenly realized that the cricket has back on track in the country!

Harin, however, has now forgotten that act from Mahela and Sangakkara and is hopeful that at least now, they will do something meaningful for Sri Lanka cricket!

“I don’t see any harm in appointing technical committee, for a certain time period to put things in order. But again, after that period is over, the elected body should be allowed to do its best for the game and the country” he added.

And for those, who will be elected on May 20 to run the cricket for next two years in Sri Lanka, Harin has an advice, in advance.

“Look, the ICC sends same amount to most test playing nations. So, management of those funds is very important. World has changed and this generation is different to what it was 15 years back.  Game is much more professional now and most young players these days sees Cricket as full time career option. So, the administrators need to make the full use of the grant they get, in improving the standards of the players and the cricket structure” he concluded.


About the author

N Krishnamurthy