President of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Shammi Silva, has issued a warning: should the ICC’s suspension of SLC not be removed, the nation may miss out on hosting the men’s Under-19 World Cup in January and February. He added that he stopped the International Criminal Court from suspending Sri Lanka back in July.
Cricadda is aware that the ICC has not yet decided on the U-19 World Cup, and that the topic of the tournament’s hosting would only be brought up at the upcoming board meeting on November 21. It has been discovered that the suspension of SLC in July was not discussed at all inside the ICC.
Silva said that Imran Khwaja, the deputy head of the International Criminal Court, has shown particular interest in possible political meddling in Sri Lanka. “About five months ago, the ICC came here when there was news of political interference, and held an inquiry,” Silva stated. “Mr. Imran Khwaja informed the minister and the president (of Sri Lanka) that if they don’t properly regulate this, the International Criminal Court (ICC) will take it seriously. The suspension is not something that will occur over the course of a few days.
Khwaja arrived on 10 May. I then attended an ICC meeting that was held from July 10–14. According to their research, Sri Lanka Cricket is being used for political purposes only. They went on to tell me that we could either prohibit Sri Lanka, end cricket in Sri Lanka, or cease sending money to Sri Lanka. I advised them against doing it. Therefore, between July 10 and July 14, we were actually going to be suspended, but SLC officials stopped it.”
Cricadda has evidence that Khwaja went to Sri Lanka on a fact-finding expedition only after SLC protested to the ICC about political involvement in November 2022. It is known that at the time, the ICC did not discover any preliminary proof of direct meddling.
The history of this dispute stems from a disagreement that has existed for the past year between SLC and the nation’s sports minister, Roshan Ranasinghe. Ranasinghe has accused SLC and Silva of meddling in cricket while SLC has accused him of corruption and poor administration within the cricket body.
On Saturday afternoon, Silva and Ranasinghe had separate media interviews; at times, both made offensive remarks about the other. During the news conference Silva held at the SLC headquarters, he emphasized that the ICC and SLC want guarantees from the highest ranking official in Sri Lankan politics, the president, that there will be no more political meddling in the administration of Sri Lankan cricket.
Even though Silva and his elected board are in charge of SLC for now, their position is still unstable. Only a 14-day stay order issued by Sri Lankan courts on Monday, which overturned Ranasinghe’s nomination of an interim committee chaired by Arjuna Ranatunga to oversee SLC, is to blame.
Meanwhile, Ranasinghe described the sports ministry’s next moves in its bid to get the ICC to lift SLC’s suspension. He said that the ministry would first address the ICC’s dispute resolution committee, a body that examines board appeals over membership issues. Ranasinghe stated that the ministry might consider bringing a complaint before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland, if that procedure is unsuccessful.
In domestic affairs, the ministry intends to request a judgment from Sri Lankan courts that reinstates the minister’s temporary committee, which is led by Ranatunga.
It is believed that Silva requested SLC’s suspension in order to exert pressure on the Sri Lankan government. During the press conference, he responded to a direct question about it by saying, “I’ve already mentioned this was something that was going to happen for five months. It takes a remarkable individual like myself to be able to pull strings like that.