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Kumar Sangakkara lashes out at the Sri Lankan board

Transparency, the way forth: In his one-hour long speech, Sangakkara placed a lot of emphasis on the need to be more transparent

Incensed by the ‘ill-feeling, rift and distrust’ the board has evoked within the Sri Lankan side, former Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara has come lashing out at the Sri Lankan board launching a scathing attack against them.

In his eloquent speech at the MCC Spirit of Cricket-Cowdery Lecture that lasted for an hour, which was revealing as much as it was empathetic, he got a standing ovation at the end of it. He also pointed out how he was forced into resignation following the board’s jiggery-pokery approach only two years after he took over as captain.

“Players from within the team itself became involved in power games within the board. Officials elected to power in this way in turn manipulated player loyalty to achieve their own ends. At times board politics would spill over into the team causing rift, ill feeling and distrust.

“Accountability and transparency in administration and credibility of conduct were lost in a mad power struggle that would leave Sri Lankan cricket with no consistent and clear administration. Presidents and elected executive committees would come and go; government-picked interim committees would be appointed and dissolved.”

He also mentioned about how the World Cup win in 1996 imparted a lot of self-belief in the nation and how it is lingering right now. “After 1996 the cricket board has been controlled and administered by a handful of well-meaning individuals either personally or by proxy, rotated in and out, depending on appointment or election,” Sangakkara said.

“Unfortunately to consolidate and perpetuate their power, they opened the door of the administration to partisan cronies that would lead to corruption and wanton waste of cricket board finances and resources.

“It was and still is confusing. Accusations of vote buying and rigging, player interference due to lobbying from each side and even violence at the AGMs, including the brandishing of weapons and ugly fist fights, have characterised cricket board elections for as long as I can remember.

“We have to aspire to better administration. The administration needs to adopt the same values enshrined by the team over the years: integrity, transparency, commitment and discipline.

“Unless the administration is capable of becoming more professional, forward-thinking and transparent then we risk alienating the common man. Indeed, this is already happening. Loyal fans are becoming increasingly disillusioned. This is very dangerous because it is not the administrators or players that sustain the game – it is the cricket-loving public. It is their passion that powers cricket and if they turn their backs on cricket then the whole system will come crashing down.”

The board is yet to respond to this remarkable and revealing speech by one of the voices who is concerned about the present and the future of the game.

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