Minister’s influence reason for cricket’s decline – Wettimuny

Too much influence of the Ministry of Sports in the affairs of Sri Lanka Cricket is one of the main reasons for the decline of the game today, former Sri Lankan Test Cricketer Sidath Wettimuny said.

“There are many reasons for the decline but too much of influence by the Ministry of Sports has been a major reason,” Mr. Wettimuny said at the “Forum with Eran” a panel discussion conducted by UNP MP Eran Wickremaratne in Colombo last evening.

Wettimunuty, who is also a former Chairman of Selectors recalled that anyone who was planning to do good work at Sri Lanka Cricket was prevented by the Sports Ministry in the recent years. “Office Bearers of Sri Lanka Cricket were removed almost every six months,” he recalled

He said none of the cricket stadiums that were built in Sri Lanka during the recent years has the essential facilities. Therefore he said neither the Hambantota and Pallakele international grounds, nor the Dambulla grounds, has a gymnasium, a pool and indoor nets which are essential for the training. “There is nothing wrong in constructing these stadiums but one should have made sure that the necessary facilities were available.”

Referring to the conduct of cricketers he said the status of cricketers has changed today as it had become a full profession unlike the old days, when he himself was playing for the national side. “One must see whether he or she could expect a cricketer to commit himself to his country if he is offered half a million dollars more in a contract to play for domestic tournaments on foreign soil,” he therefore said.

Member of Parliament and former President Sri Lanka Cricket Thilanga Sumathiapala, who also participated in the discussion, charged that Minister of Sports Mahindananda Aluthgasmage had failed to reason out as to why he had rejected his nomination for Presidency at Sri Lanka Cricket. Sumathiapala said he had every qualification to contest for the presidency as he no longer holds the director’s post of a media company, a company involved in gambling and a company involved in importing sports goods. However he said his wife is a director of a sports goods importing company while his father is running the gambling entity at the moment.

Recalling how he got about in developing cricket during his tenure as the Sri Lanka Cricket President he said planning for the Dambulla stadium from the year 2008. He said Rs 50 million was set aside every year to meet the expenditure of this project. Coming up with a disclosure he said the annual accounts have not been approved by Sri Lanka Cricket at its AGM from 2004 to 2012. (Yohan Perera)

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