Upali Dharmadasa Becomes New President of Sri Lanka Cricket after Uncontested Election

January 3, 2012

The Sri Lanka Cricket board have appointed businessman Upali Dharmadasa as their new president after his rivals withdrew from the contest, claiming it was flawed.

Other officials, including two vice presidents and a secretary, were also elected to the board after their opponents dropped out of the races. A vote was held only for the post of assistant treasurer.

Dharmadasa had been appointed by Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage to lead an interim five-man committee in July after he dissolved the previous board. Aluthgamage then dissolved the interim committee in November and appointed his secretary as the competent authority until elections could be held.

SLC has not had an elected body for seven years and political appointees have run the administration. However the authorities were compelled to hold an election after the International Cricket Council last year made them mandatory for all national cricket boards.

Mohan de Silva, who was a candidate for the post of vice president, said his team decided to withdraw from the election after learning that unknown persons had forced voting clubs to change their representatives to manipulate the vote. He also accused the ministry of allowing clubs to change their voting delegates in violation of the procedure.

“We had a lot of hope that we are returning to democracy with the election. But all that hope is shattered,” de Silva said.

Sports ministry official Ranjani Jayakody said the election was conducted in a free and fair manner, however.

The election comes amid allegations of political meddling and fraud. The board faces a financial crisis having incurred millions of dollars of debt after building two new cricket grounds and renovating another for last year’s World Cup, which Sri Lanka co-hosted with India and Bangladesh.

National team players went without their salaries and match fees for eight months before the ICC last month paid part of them out of the hosting fees it owed Sri Lanka for the World Cup.