Kumar Sangakkara wants politics out of Si Lankan cricket

SRI Lanka star Kumar Sangakkara has welcomed the ICC directive requiring all national boards to be elected without political interference.

His call came just days after Sri Lanka’s sports minister said he had forced the national cricket board committee to step down following allegations of financial mismanagement.

Sri Lanka co-hosted the 2011 World Cup and were left with a $US69 million ($64.38m) bill, with media reports suggesting that mismanagement by Sri Lanka Cricket had been responsible for cost over-runs.

“We have to aspire to better administration,” said Sangakkara in the text of his MCC Spirit of Cricket Cowdrey Lecture delivered at Lord’s today.

“The administration needs to adopt the same values enshrined by the team over the years: integrity, transparency, commitment and discipline,” added Sangakkara, the first active cricketer to deliver the lecture, who on Sunday played at Lord’s in the Sri Lanka side that beat England by six wickets in the third one-day international.

“Unless the administration is capable of becoming more professional, forward-thinking and transparent then we risk alienating the common man,” said Sangakkara, who stepped down as Sri Lanka captain after the World Cup final defeat by India in Mumbai in April.

“Indeed, this is already happening. Loyal fans are becoming increasingly disillusioned… It is their passion that powers cricket and if they turn their backs on cricket then the whole system will come crashing down.

“The solution to this may be the ICC taking a stand to suspend member boards with any direct detrimental political interference and allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

“This will negate the ability to field representative teams or receive funding and other accompanying benefits from the ICC.

“But as a Sri Lankan I hope we have the strength to find the answers ourselves.”

There was a controversial start to the one-day series, where Sri Lanka are 2-1 in front with two to play, when veteran batsman Sanath Jayasuriya, now an MP in Sri Lanka’s governing party, was allowed to play in The Oval opener, which the tourists lost, as a final match before his retirement despite having been out of the team for nearly two years prior to the tour of England.

Last week the ICC gave all member boards until its next meeting in June 2012 to implement the new ruling and a further 12 months – to June 2013 – before any sanctions will be considered.

The lecture was inaugurated in 2001 in memory of the late former England captain Colin Cowdrey.

Although it is more than 40 years since MCC ceased to run English cricket, it has retained worldwide responsibility for the sport’s rules or Laws.