Relations between Sri Lanka s splintered cricketing establishment and the government took a dramatic turn yesterday as a tough talking sports minister Gamini Lokuge approved the team for the first Test against India starting on Wednesday but rejected the appointment of ex-captain Hashan Tillekaratne as manager in an unprecedented move unparalleled in the annals of the sport s history.
The latest development brought to an end a shadowy episode that only exposed the dictatorial conduct of ex-World Cup winning captain and current cricket board chief Arjuna Ranatunga who unilaterally appointed the unsuspecting Tillekaratne without the consent of his committee that put him on course for a head-on collision with a no-nonsense minister.
This is not a one-man company. If an appointment has to be made you got to put it to the committee members for approval and this was not done. I have asked for the appointment to be made in the right way. This is not a good habit , said Minister Lokuge in a direct lambasting of Ranatunga who observers say got it wrong from the day he was installed six months ago.
Tillekaratne is now an opposition United National Party activist which does not make him eligible for the job of team manager in the eyes of Minister Lokuge who believes that many potential team officials were disregarded by Ranatunga when it came to choosing a manager.
The manager s post carries a 90,000 rupee monthly pay cheque, an additional 50 dollars for each match-working day, a car and other allied perks.
You can t do both (politics and cricket). I have no grudge against Hashan. He is fit for the job but this job is not for a politician , said Minister Lokuge.
The manager s job entails organising the team for practices, player selection on tour, discipline-enforcement and compiling a tour-end report among other functions.
In the current context a 14-member Sri Lanka squad which was finalised yesterday has been left rudderless and a panic-stricken interim committee which runs cricket has called for an emergency meeting today to pick a manager.
For the first time the players checked into their hotel without a manager yesterday.
The Minister has not approved the manager s (Tillekaratne) appointment and we will now have to select a manager , said Sri Lanka Cricket s chief executive officer Duleep Mendis.
The Daily Mirror learns that several former players and ex-managers have turned their backs on the job fearing they could jeopardise their integrity working for an administration that has failed.