COLOMBO: With fortunes not favouring Sri Lanka on or off the cricket field, the newly elected chief of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Upali Dharmadasa, organised a special pooja to drive out the ‘evil spirits’ that had plagued cricket in the country.
Sri Lanka managed just one Test win in 2011 despite reaching the final of the World Cup – which they lost to India – but financial setbacks, with the players remaining unpaid from April to December, and poor show sunk the country’s cricket to new depths.
Talking to reporters in Colombo, Dharmadasa said that he had obtained the services of a sorcerer to conduct the puja which ‘forced the demons and other evil spirits to be driven out’.
“I am a businessman and I know the effects of these evil spirits,” said Dharmadasa, who was elected into the position unopposed on January 3, putting an end to the politically appointed interim committee – called into question by the International Cricket Council – that had been running the SLC for seven years.
Meanwhile, Dharmadasa downplayed the huge financial mire that engulfs the board and termed it a mere cash-flow problem. The SLC is reportedly in a debt of seven million Sri Lanka Rupees despite not having settled the players’ and staff dues in full.
The losses were mainly blamed on the development of two brand new stadiums — the Pallekele in Kandy and the Mahinda Rajapaksa stadium in Hambantota, both of which hosted the World Cup games.
Dharmadasa said that around $15 million was expected from India’s scheduled tour in July.
“I have convinced all suppliers that we will pay them for their services in due course,” he added before confirming that the upcoming tour by England, scheduled for March, will go ahead as planned despite reports that some of the leading hotels had refused to deal with the SLC due to outstanding payments.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 7th, 2012.