This Christmas will either make or break Suraj Dandeniya

When Christmas comes this year, the highest paid man at Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Suraj Dandeniya, will know his fate.

Will the nation remember Mr. Dandeniya as a scoundrel who plundered the resources of our beloved sport and brought our nation to disrepute at the 2011 World Cup, or will he come out more like Santa Claus bearing the R. Premadasa Stadium as a gift, ready in time for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011?

Dandeniya is Somachandra de Silva’s nephew. He was recruited by SLC to be a part of the World Cup Secretariat for a whopping fee of $5000 USD/month and other perks.

Somachandra de Silva is the man President Rajapaksa appointed as the Chairman of the Interim Committee. de Silva appointed his nephew sans an interview nor an assessment of his qualifications for a crucial post; Dandeniya is responsible for the R. Premadasa Stadium which is currently in a shambolic state. But he does have till December 31 to pull off a miracle.

Will he or won’t he? That’s the question. The answer does not look favourable for Dandeniya, SLC and all of Sri Lanka.

The R. Premadasa Stadium which will play host to the West Indies v Sri Lanka second Test match today is in an embarrassing state. Not a single stand is complete. The venue will play host to crucial World Cup fixtures and must be completed.

Journalist with accreditation for the current series had access to the venue yesterday as both team’s practised there, but photographers were barred form taking photos of the venue. What was SLC so afraid of if construction – as they insist – is on schedule?

This is what Rex Clementine, who was at the Premadasa yesterday, had to say,

R. Premadasa Stadium right now is well behind schedule and is not going to meet the ICC’s deadline of 30th November, by which period all construction should be complete.

Incidentally, not too long ago, Sri Lanka’s World Cup Director, Suraj Dandeniya, claimed that Sri Lanka’s venues were "ten days ahead of schedule," but nothing could be further from the truth as the ICC guidelines demand the following: "…deadline date for the completion of all stadia construction work to be 30th of November 2010 and all playing facilities to be match-ready by 31st of December 2010."

A media release sent out by Sri Lanka Cricket said construction of the venue will only be complete by 31st of December and appears to admit that Sri Lanka Cricket has broken ICC guidelines.

Although the reconstructed R. Premadasa Stadium has several new stands, not a single one of them has been complete as of now and none of them are going to be ready before the November 30 deadline and Sri Lanka could be rebuked strongly by the ICC for these serious delays.

In a state of panic, Sri Lanka Cricket was quick to issue a media release yesterday, but at the same time was concerned that photographers were taking pictures of the half finished stadium.

This is from the Daily Mirror today,

The Premadasa stadium will host seven World Cup matches including a one quarter final and a semi final game after Sri Lanka confronts Australia, Pakistan and Kenya in the qualifying round.

“This decision (to play the Test) was taken based on the fact that our national team will be playing World Cup matches at this venue; hence familiarization is of paramount importance. We request the public and the media to bear with us for any inconvenience caused due to the ongoing construction work, however we assure you we will do our maximum to give you the facilities you require with limitations”, the statement added.

Suraj Dandeniya has been in overall charge of the venue.

Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara preferred to stay away from adverse comments about the venue but declared it was the duty of players to get on with the game.

“As players we have to rise above issues and stay focused on the game”, he told reporters at a post match media briefing yesterday.

Mr. Dandeniya, for your sake I hope you can handle the heat. It is only going to get hotter from here. After all, with great responsibility comes great wages, but failure almost always brings dire consequences. Please don’t disappoint the Sri Lankan public?

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