The influential International Cricket Council (ICC) is poised to reach a decision on the ongoing challenges within Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) this coming Tuesday. Following the suspension of the Sri Lanka board over alleged government interference, the ICC is now compelled to address issues concerning the Under 19 World Cup, scheduled to take place in Sri Lanka in January 2024. The ICC Board meeting is currently underway in Ahmedabad.
While the ICC deliberates on the matter, a court in Sri Lanka has deferred the SLC case to November 22, a day after the Board meeting. The suspended SLC members have obtained a stay on the Gazette notification from the government, which dismissed the SLC and appointed an interim committee led by Arjuna Ranatunga to oversee cricket in Sri Lanka. Initially, the court had stayed the implementation of the gazette notification for two weeks, and now, at the government’s request, the matter has been postponed to Wednesday.
In a noteworthy development, it has been revealed that the ICC’s suspension of the SLC was initiated at the request of the SLC itself. Through a series of letters, the elected SLC chief Shammi Silva implored the ICC to take action against the body.
In a letter dated November 9, Silva stated, “We urgently request the ICC’s urgent intervention to safeguard the interests of cricket in Sri Lanka. Your prompt attention and action on this matter are crucial to ensure the protection of the democratic process within SLC and the broader principle upheld by the ICC and preserving the principles of cricket administration and protecting the reputation of the sport in our nation.”
Silva sought ICC intervention, citing a parliamentary debate in Sri Lanka focused on the autonomy of the SLC, orchestrated by Sports Minister Roshan Ranasingh. Silva also alleged threats to the homes and families of elected SLC members, asserting that the minister was attempting to divert funds of the SLC for purposes unrelated to cricket.
Addressed to Greg Barclay, the Chair of ICC, with copies sent to other Board members, including Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) secretary Jay Shah, the letter triggered the ICC’s decision to suspend the SLC on November 10.
Upon suspending the SLC, the ICC declared, “The ICC Board met today and determined that Sri Lanka Cricket is in serious breach of its obligations as a Member, particularly 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.”
Notably, the ICC had not taken similar actions in cases of government interference with Cricket South Africa, Pakistan Cricket Board, and even the Afghanistan Cricket Board. However, an ICC official explained that the world body can take action only when there is a complaint from the member. As reported earlier, the ICC has granted Silva permission to attend Tuesday’s Board meeting.