Pull out of the contest Arjuna: Sumathipala

Published: Wednesday, May 14, 2003, 2:02 [IST]
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Colombo: Sri Lanka's former World Cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga on Tuesday entered the fray to control the country's cricket governing body, but he was almost certain to lose, officials said. Ranatunga, 39, offered his candidature for the post of president of the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) against local businessman Thilanga Sumathipala in elections to be held on June 6. Sumathipala is running for the presidency with a list of other office bearers who were elected unopposed. More than two-thirds of cricket associations and clubs which are entitled to vote on June 6 have sponsored Sumathipala, making his election a mere matter of a formality. "My advice to Arjuna is to pull out of the contest because the vast majority of members of the BCCSL have already rejected him," Sumathipala said. "I am offering him a position to give his expertise to the game." Sumathipala said Ranatunga should avoid the humiliation of a crushing defeat and join him like his World Cup winning vice- captain Aravinda de Silva who was unopposed as one of the two vice-presidents of the board. Ranatunga could join a "technical advisory committee" the new team is proposing after the June elections to revive the BCCSL. There was no immediate reaction from Ranatunga who is now an opposition member of parliament after entering politics to take after his father who is also member of parliament and a former minister. Ranatunga, who captained Sri Lanka to the World Cup title in 1996, joined politics soon after retiring from cricket in 1999. Ranatunga successfully challenged a government plan to keep out politicians from managing cricket earlier this year. However, he failed to secure the vote of his own club, the Sinhalese Cricket Club, which decided last week to support Sumathipala. Sumathipala said he was expecting to introduce a new level of "transparency" in a bid to restore public confidence in the Board, one of the richest sporting bodies in the country. The BCCSL had been plagued by allegations of financial scandals. Sumathipala said he also wanted to appoint an international coach for the Sri Lanka team which he was performing below par. Sri Lanka coach Dav Whatmore was sacked last month after Sri Lanka's dismal performance in recent times. However, the BCCSL had been unable to find a replacement. Copyright AFP 2001

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