Transforming Sri Lankan Cricket: The President Unveils 2030 Depoliticization Vision for Sri Lanka Cricket
In a historic announcement at the 150th anniversary celebrations of the Colombo Colts Cricket Club (CCC) Dece; (08), President Ranil Wickremesinghe declared his commitment to depoliticizing and revolutionizing cricket in Sri Lanka by 2030.
The President outlined a comprehensive plan, emphasizing the need for an independent trust to oversee the financial administration and development of school cricket, backed by a substantial budget allocation.
Addressing the gathering at the CCC ground, President Wickremesinghe passionately expressed his vision for the future of Sri Lankan Cricket, asserting that the game should thrive beyond political influences. He underscored the importance of transparency and efficiency in utilizing funds earmarked for the development of school cricket, revealing a significant budget allocation of 1.5 billion rupees for the current year, with expectations of an annual increase to 2 billion rupees in the future.
The President’s commitment to abolishing the powers of interim committees and the sports minister in cricket affairs was a notable aspect of his speech. He highlighted the imminent introduction of new laws designed to keep the sport free from political interference, reinforcing his dedication to fostering a transparent and accountable cricket administration.
During the celebration, President Wickremesinghe unveiled plans for an independent trust to manage the allocated funds and spearhead the development of school cricket. He stressed the importance of conducting all activities with utmost transparency, ensuring that the trust achieves its objectives in a manner that aligns with the vision for Sri Lankan cricket in 2030.
The President also acknowledged the historical significance of the Colombo Colts Cricket Club, tracing its roots back to the early days of cricket in Sri Lanka when various ethnic groups formed clubs. He commended the club’s role in shaping the country’s cricketing history and recognized its contributions to the sport.
As part of the celebration, members of the 1996 World Cup winning team and the 2014 T20 World Cup winning team were awarded with the lifetime membership of the Colts Cricket Club. President Wickremesinghe also received lifetime membership from the club’s president, Mr. Nishantha Ranatunga.
In his speech, President Wickremesinghe reflected on the evolution of cricket in Sri Lanka, from its early days influenced by Englishmen to the present era of fast-paced, dynamic formats like T20 cricket. He acknowledged the changing landscape of the game, driven by advancements in technology and media.
The President’s commitment to the development of cricket at the school level was a central theme of his address. He outlined plans to allocate funds for the improvement of cricket infrastructure, including pitches and equipment, particularly in the less developed provinces such as the North Central Province, Eastern Province, and Uva. The President emphasized that this financial support would be sustained over the years, with the possibility of increasing the annual budget to 2 billion rupees.
President Wickremesinghe’s vision extends beyond mere financial contributions. He expressed a desire to create a level playing field by ensuring that cricket is accessible to all schools across the country, irrespective of their location. His proposal aims to raise the standard of cricket in every corner of Sri Lanka, creating a vast pool of talent that can be tapped into for national representation.
The President’s vision also extends to gender inclusivity in cricket, with plans to support and encourage female students to actively participate in the sport. He sees cricket as a game that transcends gender boundaries and envisions a future where both male and female students contribute to the country’s cricketing success.
To execute these plans effectively, President Wickremesinghe announced the formation of a group of expertise for managing the allocated funds. He has invited former cricketers Sidath Wettimuny and Aravinda de Silva to the group and also the Chamber of Commerce to nominate a representative. This group is tasked with ensuring that the allocated funds are utilized efficiently and contribute to the holistic development of school cricket.
Furthermore, President Wickremesinghe disclosed plans to transform the dilapidated Diyagama ground into a dedicated sports campus. This visionary project involves collaboration with the cricket board and other controlling bodies to develop the ground into a state-of-the-art facility. The aim is to create a hub where various sports can be nurtured and developed, aligning with Sri Lanka’s broader vision of becoming a prosperous nation excelling in both economic and sporting endeavours.
President Wickremesinghe’s speech at the anniversary celebrations of the Colombo Colts Cricket Club marks a pivotal moment in the history of Sri Lankan cricket. His unwavering commitment to depoliticizing the sport, coupled with substantial financial support and visionary plans for grassroots development, sets the stage for a transformative journey toward cricketing excellence by 2030. The President’s vision, if realized, promises to shape the future of Sri Lankan Cricket and position the country as a force to be reckoned with on the international stage.
This grand celebration was graced by the esteemed presence of notable dignitaries, including First Lady Professor Maithree Wickramasinghe, Ministers Harin Fernando and Prasanna Ranatunga, and Western Province Governor Marshal of the Air Force Roshan Gunathilake. The event also saw the gathering of revered figures from the cricketing world, with former and present veteran cricketers and other distinguished guests in attendance.