Nov 11 (CricBuzz) – There are more layers to the suspension of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) than are visible. On the surface, the International Cricket Council (ICC) decision, taken after an emergent board meeting, seems beneficial to the body it has suspended. Shammi Silva, the elected president of the SLC, is not exactly a persona non grata after the unexpected ICC decision. The ICC, in fact, said it still recognised him and his ‘democratically elected office-bearers’ and as a director.
More specifically, this move has been intended to prevent the government takeover of the SLC, which the country’s auditor general said is mired in corruption. To stretch the point further, only a couple of days ago, the country’s Parliament debated the SLC corruption issue and was preparing to have its own representative, namely Arjuna Ranatunga, run the body.
To elaborate, there has been an attempt to change the constitution of the SLC altogether, and Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe has been at the forefront of these plans. He appointed Ranatunga, a former and the only World Cup-winning captain in the island, as the chairman of the interim committee. The decision was stayed by a court of appeal, but only for two weeks. The stay order, passed on a Silva appeal, was set to be in effect until November 16.
Another dimension to the decision is the policies of the interim head. Ranatunga, considered to hold radical views on the game in Sri Lanka, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), and the ICC, is not a popular figure in international cricket administration. Many ICC members would not be pleased with him being at the helm, least of all the BCCI, against whom he has often made scathing comments.
The ICC decision to suspend SLC followed a virtual meeting of the ICC board. It said the suspension is with immediate effect. “ICC Board met today and determined that Sri Lanka Cricket is in serious breach of its obligations as a Member, in particular, the requirement to manage its affairs autonomously and ensure that there is no government interference in the governance, regulation and/or administration of cricket in Sri Lanka. The conditions of the suspension will be decided by the ICC Board in due course,” the ICC statement said.
Interestingly, the ICC decision comes a day after Sri Lanka’s participation in the ongoing World Cup formally ended. They were eliminated from the semifinal contention a week ago, but the decision was made after they played their last game of the Championship in Bengaluru on Thursday.
There may be a few serious implications of this decision. In January 2024, SLC is scheduled to host the Under-19 World Cup in the island nation. The fate of that tournament now hangs in the balance. A suspended board, obviously, cannot be expected to host a global event. Similarly, whether the ICC will stop releasing its funds for SLC is a matter of serious concern. There are no immediate international bilateral matches though.
The matter will now dominate the ICC board meeting, which will be held in Ahmedabad on November 21. For the record, SLC will not be a part of the board meeting, but Cricbuzz understands that Silva, having been the recognized person from Sri Lanka, will be able to sit in the meeting nevertheless, as an ICC mail, seen by Cricbuzz, states.
While the ICC decision culminates a series of events that have been taking place in SLC, it is not exactly consistent with its past policies. The ICC did not take action against Cricket South Africa (CSA) for a similar decision by the SA government. But it had suspended Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) a couple of times.
ICC mail to SLC
On Friday evening, ICC Chair Greg Barclay notified the SLC about its suspension. The notice, sent via email by Barclay, states:
In accordance with the powers under Article 2.10(A) of the ICC Articles of Association, the ICC Board of Directors, has determined that SLC cricket is in serious breach of its obligation as a member, in particular its obligations under Article 2.4(D) of the ICC Articles of Association (to manage its affairs autonomously and ensure that there is no government interference in its governance, regulation and/or its administration of cricket in Sri Lanka). As a consequence, Sri Lanka Cricket’s membership of the ICC has been suspended with immediate effect.
The ICC Board will consider the precise terms of Sri Lanka Cricket’s suspension and the conditions it will need to satisfy in order to have its suspension lifted in due course.
For the purpose of the upcoming Board meeting, the Board has agreed that it will continue to recognise the democratically elected office-bearers of Sri Lanka Cricket and thus you will be entitled to attend the meeting in your capacity as an ICC director.”