Calcutta: A decade after joining hands to script Sri Lanka’s most glorious moment in cricket (any team sport, in fact), Arjuna Ranatunga and Aravinda de Silva have come together again ' this time, to get the much-troubled Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) galloping.
Both the 1996 World Cup-winning captain and his deputy are among the five nominated by former players to serve on the about-to-be-constituted committee for administration.
The others are: One-time opener Sidath Wettimuny; former quicks Kapila Wijegunawardene and Pramodaya Wickramasinghe.
“Our names have been forwarded to the country’s President (Mahinda Rajapakse) and it’s expected that he will put the committee together early next week,” Ranatunga, the deputy minister for tourism, told The Telegraph.
Speaking from Colombo on Friday evening, a day which saw quite a few SLC-related developments, the iconic 42-year-old added: “We’re very happy that the President met a delegation of us ex-players this morning (the second such interaction this week) and reiterated that we’ve got to be part of the administration'”
Ranatunga and four others (Wettimuny, Roshan Mahanama, Don Anurasiri and Wickramasinghe) met Rajapakse hours after he’d scrapped Saturday’s SLC elections and soon after sports minister Jeevan Kumaranatunga reappointed the existing interim committee.
Rajapakse stepped in after apprehensions across the Island that the elections could turn nasty. Ironically, at a time when the national team has been in terrific form, winning each of the last seven ODIs.
“The President has already asked both (SLC) presidential candidates, incumbent Jayanta Dharmadasa and challenger (a predecessor, too) Mohan de Silva, to work as co-chairmen' Then, he suggested we nominate five' From our side, we requested him to appoint a ‘clean’ treasurer and he agreed,” Ranatunga said.
The former players, according to Ranatunga, have no intention of getting involved with the SLC’s finances.
“Frankly, my view is that only an independent person with the highest integrity should handle money matters' Things haven’t been going right for the last decade,” he pointed out.
Asked whether he’s going to be comfortable working with the Dharmadasas and de Silvas, Ranatunga laughed: “Well, we aren’t aligned with any group' While I accept the co-chairmen will sit on the biggest chairs, we’re going to have the numbers'”
No prizes for guessing that Ranatunga is expected to have the maximum clout.
Dharmadasa, incidentally, had been more than willing to involve ex-players in a big way. That was communicated during a ‘dialogue’ in the lead-up to the elections which got scrapped.
The other side, backed by former president Thilanga Sumathipala, apparently didn’t show any interest.
“As an official announcement hasn’t been made, I don’t want to jump the gun' However, upgrading schools cricket will be a priority,” Ranatunga concluded.
Footnote: Mahanama, who has captained Sri Lanka in ODIs, would have been one of the nominees had he not been a Match Referee. After being promoted by the ICC a few months ago, he’s in Tier-I of the Elite panel.