Jay Shah ‘Ruining’ and ‘Running’ Sri Lanka Cricket: Arjuna Ranatunga 

Sri Lankan government and its cricket board are at loggerheads in the aftermath of the country's dismal performance.

New Delhi: Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka’s World Cup-winning captain, has accused Jay Shah, the secretary of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), of both ‘running’ and ‘ruining’ Sri Lankan cricket.

Ranatunga, speaking on the YouTube channel ‘Truth with Chamuditha’ alleged that there was a connection between Sri Lanka Cricket – the country’s cricket board – officials and Jay Shah and said that BCCI believes that it can exert control over SLC’s affairs.

Ranatunga also spoke on the alleged BCCI-SLC connection to the Sri Lankan newspaper Daily Mirror.

“Because of the connection between SLC officials and Jay Shah they (the BCCI) are under the impression that they can trample and control SLC…Jay Shah is running Sri Lanka Cricket. SLC is being ruined because of pressure from Jay Shah. One man in India is ruining Sri Lankan cricket. He is only powerful because of his father, who is India’s home minister,” he said. 

Jay Shah is the son of Union home minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Amit Shah.

Ranatunga’s allegations gain weight in the backdrop of the International Cricket Council (ICC) suspending SLC for its failure to ‘manage its affairs autonomously,’ a move that was preceded by a unanimous resolution in the Sri Lankan parliament calling for the ousting of the ‘allegedly corrupt’ SLC management.

The chronology

This world cup, the 1996 champions managed to win only a single game out of the nine it played. Securing the ninth position on the points table, Sri Lanka finds itself ineligible for participation in the 2025 Champions Trophy.

The past week has been tumultuous. First, sports minister Roshan Ranasinghe dismissed the SLC board. In its place, an interim committee led by Ranatunga was installed. However, the Court of Appeal intervened, reinstating the original board a day later. This reinstatement was facilitated by a 14-day stay order of the earlier gazette that had dissolved the board.

While Silva’s elected board currently has the reins at SLC, Ranasinghe is pursuing avenues, including the ICC’s dispute resolution committee, to lift the suspension.

A few days later, the ICC suspended the Sri Lankan cricket board. Though officially termed a “warning,” the decision raises eyebrows regarding the extent of political interference in cricket governance. 

It is being suggested that the SLC, under the leadership of Shammi Silva, itself requested the suspension to demonstrate to Sri Lanka’s government that the ICC will not tolerate further meddling. 

Sri Lanka’s performance in the World Cup invoked reactions in the parliament of the country. Both the ruling and the opposition parties demanded an investigation into the functioning of the SLC. The parliament unanimously passed a resolution calling for the removal of the SLC management. 

In a recent parliamentary session, Sri Lankan MP Wimal Weerawansa had alleged that during the World Cup match against India, it was former batsman Mahela Jayawardene who instructed the Sri Lankan captain Kusal Mendis to bowl first, to the surprise of many. Such an instruction pointed to insidious connections ostensibly benefiting India, Weerawansa alleged.

Future under a cloud

Sri Lanka is set to host the Under-19 cricket world cup in the coming year. However, the current crisis does not provide a favourable atmosphere for it. ESPNCricinfo has reported that ICC will take a decision about the U-19 WC on November 21. 

SLC president Silva has issued a warning that the country might lose the opportunity to host the competition. Silva has also claimed that the ICC wanted to suspend Sri Lanka in July, but that he had prevented it.