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‘Political pressure’ leads to uncontested cricket board elections

Elections for the Sri Lankan Cricket board ended farcically, after all opponents bar one withdrew from the first elections held for seven years.

The only post that was contested was for that of assistant treasurer.

Mohan de Silva, one of the candidates for vice-president, told reporters that along with other opposition candidates,

"We were carrying out a successful campaign in the beginning until we came under political pressure."

He went on to say,

"Most of our member clubs and associations brought to our notice that there was undue pressure put on them to change the delegates [who would vote]." 

"This is not an election held for a government institution. This is an independent institution. So it becomes a farce. Therefore all of us decided this election is not conducted in a free and fair manner."

"We had a lot of hope that we are returning to democracy with the election. But all that hope is shattered."

Businessman Upali Dharmadasa, who was president of Sri lanka Cricket (SLC) from 1996-1998, was re-elected to the post on Tuesday after the other candidate Thilanga Sumathipala withdrew at the last minute.

A source told AFP that,

"Thilanga was hoping to lead SLC, but he did not have the blessings of the government and without that he did not want to be a candidate."

Sri Lanka Cricket has been under pressure from the International Cricket Council to hold elections, after issuing a directive calling for all national boards to have held independent elections free from political interference, before June 2012.

Since 2004, Sri Lanka Cricket has been run by nine interim committees, all of which have been government appointed.

The board has been facing a series of crises, with SLC carrying almost $70 million of debt, following the construction of two brand new stadiums, including the Mahinda Rajapakse International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota. All cricket stadia are now being maintained by the country’s expanding military.

Allegations of corruption and financial mismanagement also added strain to the team, which left players and staff without salaries for almost 9 months, before the International Cricket Council stepped in and offered to pay 45%.

The cricket team also faced a series of intense protests during their tour of England in 2011, with activists calling for a sports boycott of the cricket team attracting the attention of former England Cricket captain Mike Atherton.

The drama has led to the Sri Lankan Cricket team suffering from a loss of form, having lost the World Cup to India in March and losing subsequent Test and One Day series to England, Australia and Pakistan. The team won their first and only Test match of 2011 against South Africa last week.

See our earlier posts:

Why cricket can do nothing for peace in Sri Lanka ...
(18 July 2011)

A force for good or ill? Cricket and Sri Lanka today (08 July 2011)

Atherton: Jayasuriya call-up is cynical, political and nothing to do with cricket
(24 June 2011)

Ruling party MP rejoins Sri Lanka cricket team
(20 June 2011)

The link between Sport and Politics (20 June 2011)

Cricket and the military (13 June 2011)

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