We should have listened to Jayantha – Sanath


SLC President Jayantha Dharmadasa with former ICC President Eshan Mani in 2006.

Former Sri Lanka captain and current Chairman of Selectors Sanath Jayasuriya says country’s cricket officials should have backed SLC Chief Jayantha Dharmadasa who warned of dire consequences if SLC didn’t support Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) which initiated the much criticized changes to the governance of International Cricket Council last month.

After attending the January 9th ICC meeting in Dubai, Dharmadasa told SLC’s Ex-Co members that he had been put under intense pressure to support the proposed changes to the ICC during the meeting. The Executive-Committee, however, disagreed with Dharmadasa considering the serious repercussions it would have on Sri Lankan cricket, but Jayasuriya felt that Dharmadasa had read the situation well.

"Jayantha is a leading businessman and people have to respect his decision making ability. He knows what he is talking. After the ICC meeting he explained to the Ex-Co and briefed the situation. The Ex-Co disagreed on many things. When all countries agree we have to move with them than trying to swim against the current. Had we listened to Jayantha, we wouldn’t face the current predicament," Jayasuriya said.

SLC reportedly has earned the wrath of BCCI after it didn’t support the proposed draft alongside Pakistan Cricket Board. Some of the boards that supported the BCCI on the other hand have been richly rewarded. Bangladesh last week claimed that India promised them four cricket tours after the decisive ICC Meeting in Singapore while a part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) matches are expected to be played in South Africa.

"Some of the things that was in the initial draft report has been changed. By the time the third ICC meeting came up in Singapore, the draft had undergone several changes. Those changes came as a result of our opposition. But we could have fared better had we not antagonized India and toed line with them. In cricket it is foolish to even think of fighting India. You may not like it, but that’s the reality. We have to be realistic rather than being idealistic," Jayasuriya added.

"Had we supported India from the outset we could have gained several benefits, but right now we have to do lot of damage control."

When the Ex-Co vehemently opposed Dharmadasa’s appeal to not to go against the proposed changes, he was told not to attend the ICC meeting. The meeting was instead attended by SLC Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga, who couldn’t handle the high profile meeting either and in the end he abstained from voting after South Africa pulled out their opposition and supported the new changes.

"Forget saving world cricket, you need to look at what’s good for Sri Lankan cricket. Then you can think of everything else," Jayasuriya said.

As SLC now attempts damage control mission, Jayasuriya is considered key man to win back the support of India given his popularity in India. Jayasuriya fetched close to one million US$ in the inaugural IPL auction when Mumbai Indians picked him as one of their key players.

"There’s no reason why we should oppose India. In fact India has been extremely good to Sri Lankan cricket and helpful towards the board. Whenever we were faced with a crisis they were good enough to help us and the Indian team has toured Sri Lanka in the last ten years more than they have been to any other country. As you know tours by India bring us revenue and we should never antagonize India," Jayasuriya, who is a member of the Executive Committee by virtue of being the Chairman of Selectors further said.

The proposed draft has several disadvantages for Sri Lanka and other countries who play India. For example, if India were travelling to Sri Lanka, SLC’s telecasting rights have to be owned by a television company that has no legal conflicts with BCCI. That clause puts SLC in deep trouble as the board’s television rights are owned by Ten Sports, a subsidiary of Zee Entertainment, who ran the rival Indian Cricket League.

"There is an issue there, but those things you can discuss and sort out," Jayasuriya said.

"Basically you have to see the reality. When all cricket playing nations are supporting the resolution, there’s no way that we can be opposing. The situation could have been different had a few other countries opposed, but most countries are coming to terms with reality and are willing to corporate with BCCI and so should we. There’s no point in taking a hard-line stance. We have to remain in the middle path," Jayasuriya said.

Jayasuriya said it was important for Sri Lanka to go into bilateral agreements with other boards to keep the flow of international matches. "We need to negotiate with other countries. We should try and get more international cricket. When the team is doing well, other countries want to play us and we have one of the best teams in the world in all three formats of the game. If our team are competitive we will get more opportunities."

However, the fact that SLC’s Ex-Co members, including Jayasuriya, have not still seen the changed draft remains a huge worry.

Questions have been asked if the proposed draft by India, England and Australia isn’t too bad for rest of the countries, why the draft has been not made public. Another point that has attracted much criticism is there being no relegation for India, England and Australia as the new amendments provide non full members of the ICC to play Test cricket at the expense of lowest ranked teams in the world.

Before going for the ICC Meeting, SLC called on former captains and administrators and unanimously all stake holders of Sri Lankan cricket agreed to vote against the proposed ICC draft.

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