Sri Lanka's World Cup venues behind schedule
By Rex Clementine
December 12, 2010 (Island Cricket): The writing is on the wall for Sri Lanka Cricket. After months of fooling around and appointing incompetent ‘nobodies’ to key positions of the administration, SLC is facing the bitter truth, which is the consequence of appointing misfits to run key events. The results can be dire. All three Sri Lanka’s venues that will host the 2011 World Cup matches are way behind schedule and one can bet his bottom dollar that Suriyawewa Stadium will not be ready ahead of the Sri Lanka’s curtain-raiser against Canada. Such a tragedy given the fact that the government showed a lot of keenness on this venue, which is to be renamed ‘Mahinda Rajapaksa International Stadium’ after completion.
But the government only has itself to blame for not questioning the appointments the Interim Committee made for the World Cup Secretariat and not monitoring its work. The World Cup is going to be Sri Lanka’s greatest showpiece in many years to come and here was an opportunity to get the attention of the whole world that Sri Lanka not only has exceptional cricketers, but excellent organisers, too. But what SLC did was, appoint the Interim Committee Chairman's nephew as the Head of World Cup Secretariat and he has failed to deliver.
Appointing Suraj Dandeniya as head of Sri Lanka’s World Cup Secretariat is as good as asking Douglas Jardine to give a speech on Spirit of Cricket, or worse than appointing Mohammad Azharuddin as ICC’s Head of Anti Corruption Unit. Elsewhere, it will never happen but in Sri Lanka, it’s quite possible.
Dandeniya is not the only flawed appointment at the World Cup Secretariat; there is another Dandeniya, Kapila, functioning as Manager of the Secretariat and except for the possible two or three qualified people in the entire World Cup Secretariat, the rest are nothing but misfits.
After recently requesting SLC to reveal the names of those employees at the World Cup Secretariat, SLC - surprisingly - declined to reveal it. Where’s the transparency? And not too long ago Interim Committee Secretary, Nishantha Ranatunga, spoke of corporate governance at SLC? What a joke!
C. B. Ratnayake, the former Sports Minister, called Sri Lanka Cricket the third most corrupt institution in the country, but didn’t last long to clean up the mess.
All these individuals in the World Cup Secretariat are paid fat salaries. But the services rendered seem to be minimal. Suraj Dandeniya instead of attending to matters of the World Cup tournament has poked his fingers into the functioning of SLC, although he has no business in it.
There’s no good reason for why the World Cup venues have fallen behind schedule. They had plenty of time to finish construction and we are told that there were no restrictions on the spending to complete these venues. Most of these constructions were done on loans borrowed from banks and the ICC.
Despite getting all what they asked for, someone should ask the World Cup Secretariat as to why it failed to deliver. One can see similarities between Sri Lanka’s preparations for the World Cup with that of the recent Commonwealth Games in India. At least, after the Commonwealth Games, there were efforts to bring the culprits to the books. Will the same happen here?
Those in the World Cup Secretariat will go after the tournament. But Sri Lanka’s reputation is sure to suffer a huge blow. Due to the petty-mindedness of authorities in making appointments to the World Cup Secretariat, it will be a great tragedy if Sri Lanka ends up being blacklisted from hosting future ICC events.
The ICC is supposed to submit a report to relevant authorities in a few days time on what they feel about Sri Lanka’s World Cup venues and this report is sure to have some interesting remarks.
The West Indies were clearly unhappy with the facilities they were given at Suriyawewa, particularly at the dressing room and the ICC’s views won’t be any different.
Despite it being very clear that the construction has fallen well behind schedule, SLC was busy painting a rosy picture at Suriyawewa. It has said how the capacity of the stadium will be more than that of Lord’s and how the practice facilities are one of the best in the world.
We are reminded of Abraham Lincoln’s famous saying; "You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time."