The International Cricket Council (ICC) Board has taken the drastic step of suspending Sri Lanka Cricket's membership, citing immediate concerns over government interference in the administration, a situation that had been causing upheaval in the past week. The specific conditions of the suspension will be determined by the ICC Board in the near future.
This significant development unfolded just a day after Sri Lanka's campaign in the 2023 Men's ODI World Cup in India concluded with a five-wicket defeat to New Zealand in Bengaluru. The tournament saw Sri Lanka securing two victories but losing seven games, ultimately finishing in ninth place. Consequently, their qualification for the 2025 Champions Trophy is now in jeopardy as they find themselves outside the top eight teams in the points table.
During a meeting on Friday, the ICC Board stated in a release that it had "determined that Sri Lanka Cricket is in serious breach of its obligations as a Member," specifically pointing to the requirement for autonomous management and the prevention of government interference in cricket governance, regulation, and administration in Sri Lanka.
Interestingly, on the same day Sri Lanka concluded their Men's ODI World Cup campaign, the country's parliament passed a resolution unanimously calling for the removal of the SLC Board. This parliamentary decision came two days after the Court of Appeal reinstated the SLC management led by Shammi Silva, which had been dismissed by Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe.
The Sports Minister had appointed former Sri Lanka cricketer Arjuna Ranatunga, the 1996 World Cup-winning captain, to head a seven-member interim committee to oversee cricketing affairs in the country, replacing the SLC management. This move followed public outcry after Sri Lanka suffered a massive 302-run defeat to India on November 2, prompting calls for the removal of the SLC board led by Silva, who assumed the chairman post in May.
Sri Lanka now becomes the second full ICC member to face suspension due to government interference, following the suspension of Zimbabwe Cricket in 2019. The ramifications of the suspension on cricketing activities in Sri Lanka remain uncertain, especially considering that the country is slated to host the 2024 Men's U19 Cricket World Cup in January next year.
(With Agency Inputs)