Hathurusinghe, Gurusinghe politically victimized: Thilanga
Former President of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Thilanga Sumathipala charged that willful political intervention by a former Minister of Sports of the previous Government had resulted in the humiliating removal of two prominent coaches of the national team, namely Chandika Hathurusinghe and Asanka Gurusinghe.
“This ex-Minister took this crass decision to sack these two former Sri Lanka players from their coaching positions”, he told a private television talk show last Monday. “We had planned to revive the entire coaching structure of the national team with the input of both Hathurusinghe and Gurusinghe, but this guy put paid to all those efforts by the SLC, by intervening in a blatant manner.
How could a Minister of Sports interfere in the internal affairs of the SLC? Gurusinghe, whom we invited from Australia, told me that he was not prepared to go behind politicians to remain in his post and promptly left.” Sumathipala, a controversial figure in the administration of local cricket’s controlling body, said the sacking of Hathurisinghe who was previously attached to Bangladesh, had also been politically motivated. He said SLC had mapped out a threeyear plan to revive the flagging fortunes of the national team under Hathurusinghe’s tutelage, when the former Minister had issued his ‘arbitrary directive’ to remove all coaches within the SLC coaching set up.
He said currently the SLC had been forced to fork out a whopping sum, as compensation to the former Sri Lanka player over the sudden and irresponsible termination of his coaching contract, as the latter had sought legal redress over it.
The former President also questioned the sagacity of the SLC administrators to hire Mickey Arthur as head coach and former Australia international Tom Moody as an Advisor to SLC, for staggering monthly salaries when its coffers had begun to run dry. He questioned whether the move to hire both Arthur and Moody had paid any rich dividends to the national team, having ousted both Hathurusinghe and Gurusinghe as he termed ‘in a most humiliating way’.
Sumathipala advised the Government not to make sacking coaches a precedent, as it could force reputed coaches from elsewhere from thinking twice before joining Sri Lanka, as its own record of hiring and firing coaches at will is not healthy.
Asked what needs to be done to bring the national team back to winning ways, Sumathipala said incumbent Minister of Sports Namal Rajapaksa should formulate a five-year plan with the input of past players and administrators and stick to it till its fruition sans any interference. “I think the Minister must conduct at least a two-day workshop with the involvement of former players and administrators of SLC to draft a five-year plan to revitalize the game here.
Afterwards they should follow that programme and adhere to it till its benefits are reaped. If this method is adopted I think Sri Lanka will be able to return to some sort of winning ways; otherwise I do not think there will be any light at the end of the tunnel for us.” Sumathipala also blamed switching his political allegiance from the UNP to the SLFP, had cost him a chance to contest the post of SLC President. He charged the previous Government had suddenly ratified an Act in Parliament, to prevent those with links to the gaming industry here from contesting such portfolios in sports bodies, with him specifically in mind.
He emphasized that the ICC - the world ruling body had at no stage enforced any condition either on him personally or on any administrator from any cricketing country, with links to the gaming industry preventing them from contesting domestic cricket elections.
“It is only my brother who is linked to the gaming industry and I have publicly said many times before that my hands are squeaky clean. But the previous Government decided to hound me politically, and hence, ratified a new Act in Parliament to prevent me from contesting SLC elections in future. However, the big loser here is not me but cricket in this country.” (JK)