The sports minister’s decision to fire the country’s cricket board because of a crisis was overturned by Sri Lanka’s Court of Appeal on Tuesday. The officials who had been fired were sent back to work until a full hearing could be held.
The court agreed to hear board head Shammi Silva’s case against minister Roshan Ranasinghe’s decision on Monday to fire the Sri Lanka Cricket board and set up an interim committee.
A court representative said, “The board will be back in place for two weeks. After that, the court will hear the case again.”
It’s the latest turn in a fight that’s been going on for months between Ranasinghe and the cricket board, which is the island’s richest sports body.
Ranasinghe has said that the board is corrupt on a large scale, and he fired members of the board just days after India beat Sri Lanka’s men’s cricket team badly in the World Cup.
As the court’s ruling from Tuesday was read out, the interim committee, which was led by former captain Arjuna Ranatunga, left the Sri Lanka Cricket offices. The new office bearers then took over.
The government has different opinions on the matter. The cabinet chose a different group, led by foreign minister Ali Sabry, to deal with “outstanding issues” at the cricket board.
Ranatunga, who took over the day before and promised to clean up the board and bring cricket back to Sri Lanka, didn’t say anything right away on Tuesday. He was the captain when the country won the World Cup in 1996.
“Sri Lanka Cricket had become known as the most corrupt institution in the country,” he stated on Monday. “I want to change that image.”
In parliament, Minister Ranasinghe yelled at President Ranil Wickremesinghe and said that he was trying to get the board fired back.
“The president wanted me to get rid of the interim committee and bring back the elected board, but I told him he could fire me, but I wouldn’t give up,” Ranasinghe said as opposition benches stomped their feet.
The world governing body for cricket, the International Cricket Council (ICC), hasn’t said anything about the situation that’s getting worse so far this week.
The ICC has rules that say politicians can’t get involved, and Sri Lanka has been banned before.
The ICC said last month that the sports minister had to pull a three-person group that was supposed to look into the board because it was interfering with their work.
Ranasinghe wrote to full members of the ICC on Saturday and asked them to understand and help him.
“Sri Lanka Cricket has been inundated with complaints about player discipline issues, management corruption, financial misconduct, and claims of match-fixing,” Ranasinghe wrote in letters that were made public in Sri Lanka.
“I would like to emphasise that interim measures will only be taken to establish good governance principles.”
Since 1996, Sri Lanka has not won the World Cup. Ranasinghe says that the board is to blame for the “deterioration” of standards.
Harin Fernando, who used to be the sports minister, passed strict anti-corruption laws in 2019 after saying that the ICC thought Sri Lanka was one of the most corrupt cricketing countries in the world.