By Harsha Amarasinghe
Parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekara has found himself in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons once more as a leaked document from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) suggests that grants have been awarded by the parent body to ‘Jayasinghe Contractors’ (a third party) for the development of Hettipola Cricket Ground under the influence of former Sports Minister.
Daily Mirror understands that Hettipola Cricket Club is not a member of SLC, raising the question as to whether direct remittances of finances is permissible to third parties. A decision of this nature will only open floodgates, in contrary to best practices which should only provide for direct assistance to registered member clubs to ensure accountability.
As per the Management Committee meeting minutes, an amount of Rs. 48,793,945/+ taxes has been awarded direct to the sole bidder identified as ‘Jayasinghe Contractors’ in March 2018,
Jayasekara who had received his primary education from Hettipola Junior School was keen to establish a Cricket Centre in Hettipola, according to one of the reliable sources from Kurunegala.
However, Daily Mirror understands that the leading top division cricket-playing schools and clubs from the District were against this idea as Hettipola Cricket Ground is located over 50km away from Kurunegala town.
“Welagedara Stadium would have been the ideal place for a cricket centre because it’s somewhat close to the city and it has everything you need for a cricket centre, but the former Minister probably wanted this in Hettipola because it’s his seat,” a cricket expert from Kurunegala told Daily Mirror.
Daily Mirror also learns that Dayasiri Jayasekara played a significant role in Hettipola Cricket Club dominating Third Division Cricket in the region this season.
“Hettipola Cricket Club has been there for some time now, but this year they brought in a lot of players from Colombo including Jeewantha Kulatunga and Tharindu Mendis,” the source revealed.
Both Kulatunga and Mendis were implicated in the Al Jazeera documentary about fixing in cricket earlier this year, and SLC confirmed that following the release of the documentary both individuals were suspended from their roles as SLC Provincial and District Coaches.
However, such employees are not allowed to involve in the tournaments organised by SLC.
Kulatunga meanwhile denied any association with Hettipola Cricket Club in professional capacity although he admitted that he wanted to help out his home-town club.
“I had no connection with the club in professional capacity. I am a SLC Coach and hence, I am not allowed to coach club teams, but you have to understand that I am from Kurunegala and I want to see players from my home town doing well. So, occasionally I helped them out with my knowledge on the game. That was it and there was and is nothing more than that,” Kulatunga said.
Daily Mirror was unable to reach Minister Dayasiri Jayasekara despite repeated attempts to contact him.