Indian Board wanted Arjuna removed as SLC Chairman!


by Rex Clementine

Former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga, who held the position of Chairman of the Cricket Interim Committee in 2008, seems to have paid the price for opposing the Indian Premier League (IPL), during his tenure. Ranatunga took over as head of Sri Lanka Cricket in early 2008 and was removed from the position later that year by Minister of Sports and Public Recreation, Gamini Lokuge, after Board of Control for Cricket in India applied pressure on the Sri Lankan government, an SLC document reveals.

An offer was made by the English Cricket Board (ECB) when Ranatunga was the head of SLC, for the national cricket team to play a Test series in England, but the dates were clashing with the 2009 edition of the IPL. Ranatunga’s request for the players to return early from the IPL was staunchly resisted by the players and as there was no softening of the stance by the World Cup winning captain, the BCCI summoned a Sri Lankan delegation to come over to Bangkok, Thailand, for talks.

Ranatunga had been a staunch critic of the IPL as it was eating into nearly two months, denying any international cricket during that period. He had also criticised the cash rich BCCI for trying to dictate terms to lesser affluent boards.

During the meeting held in Bangkok in October 2008, the BCCI was represented by Lalith Modi, N. Srinivasan and Niranjan Shah, while the Sri Lankan delegation was headed by Sports Ministry Secretary, S. Liyanagama and included three other ex-Test cricketers. There, the SLC delegation was told to get ready to face dire consequences unless they toed the BCCI line.

"The meeting that lasted for approximately two hours ended with the BCCI adopting a very aggressive stance, stating that the forthcoming Indian tours that have been indicated in the FTP up to 2012, stand unconfirmed at present and stated that they are not ready for any negotiations or to compromise with SLC, as long as SLC’s present hostile approach

and the attitude towards the BCCI remained," the board was informed, following the meeting with the Indian delegation, by one of the Sri Lankan delegates.

"Mr. Modi, together with Mr. Srinivasan were very puzzled and shocked at the attitude of SLC towards the BCCI. The BCCI representatives had said that they had never had to contend with such an attitude with any SLC committee which were previously handling the affairs of SLC and in particular, were very surprised and concerned about the comments made by Chairman, Mr. Arjuna Ranatunga, at different forums," the board was further told.

Within a matter of few weeks of the meeting with the Indian delegation, Ranatunga was removed as head of SLC by the Minister of Sports.

Ranatunga was replaced by S. Liayanagama, the Sports Ministry Secretary, who headed the delegation to India.

Graeme Labrooy, who was part of the delegation, is currently a Match Referee at the IPL while Nishantha Ranatunga and Pramodaya Wickramasinghe, who were part of the Cricketers’

Association at that point, were

made members of the Cricket Interim Committee, a few months later.

Sri Lanka were replaced by West Indies for the England tour in 2009 and ever since, the IPL has affected Sri Lanka’s international assignments. While last year several Sri Lankan players arrived late in England and missed a warm-up game prior to the Test series, this year, a scheduled three Test series between Sri Lanka and England was cut to two, as SLC opted to release national players for the IPL!

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