Sri Lanka suspended by International Cricket Council Board due to government interference

The conditions of Sri Lanka Cricket’s suspension will be decided by the ICC, with the board set to meet on November 21; the country is due to host the Under-19 Cricket World Cup, starting in January 2024

Image: Sri Lanka have been competing at the 2023 ICC Men's Cricket World Cup but have been knocked out after losing seven of nine matches

The International Cricket Council Board has suspended Sri Lanka Cricket’s membership of the ICC with immediate effect.

The ICC Board met on Friday and determined that Sri Lanka Cricket is in serious breach of its obligations as a member and, in particular, “the requirement to manage its affairs autonomously and ensure that there is no government interference in the governance, regulation and/or administration of cricket in Sri Lanka”.

The conditions of the suspension will be decided by the ICC, with the board set to meet on November 21, after which the future course of action is expected to become clearer.

Sky Sports News understands that on Monday, Sri Lanka’s sports minister sacked the entire cricket board and installed an interim committee led by World Cup winner Arjuna Ranatunga. However, it also contained two sons of politicians.

On Tuesday, this interim committee was struck down by the courts with the old board reinstated.

Under Sri Lanka’s own sports law, the government has the power to dissolve the governing body of any sport. However, ICC has taken a dim view on this in the past, stretching back to 2014 when Sri Lanka’s government last appointed a committee.

On Wednesday, Sri Lanka Cricket released a statement denying government accusations that they had mishandled preparations for the Under-19 Cricket World Cup, due to take place in January 2024. On Thursday, they released a further statement denying accusations of transferring $2m from its accounts to third party accounts.

In July 2019, the ICC suspended Zimbabwe from all forms of cricket over concerns of government interference in the running of the game, lifting the ban nearly three months later following meetings with the country’s government and Zimbabwe Cricket.

Sri Lanka are also scheduled to tour England next summer for a three-Test series.

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Sri Lanka’s World Cup ends with a five-wicket defeat to New Zealand which all but assured the Black Caps of a semi-final spot

Sri Lanka’s World Cup ends with a whimper

Sri Lanka have been participating at the 2023 ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup in India, but they lost their final group game to New Zealand by five wickets on Wednesday, placing them ninth in the table after only two wins in nine.

Barring heavy defeats for either England, against Pakistan, or for Bangladesh against Australia – both games being played on Saturday – Sri Lanka are likely to stay in the bottom two of the table and outside of the top-eight qualification spots for the 2025 Champions Trophy, another ICC event.

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Highlights as England suffer an eight-wicket hammering at the hands of Sri Lanka in Bangalore

Sri Lanka’s two wins in the tournament came against the Netherlands and defending champions England, as Jos Buttler’s side suffered a shock eight-wicket defeat in Bangalore after being bowled out for 156.

In a later defeat to Bangladesh, Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews suffered the dubious honour of becoming the first player to be timed out in international cricket when Shakib-Al-Hasan appealed that he was not ready to face his first delivery within the required two minutes after coming out to bat.

Mathews, who put the delay down to a strap on his helmet being broken, branded Shakib’s actions as “disgraceful” and accused the Bangladesh captain and his team of bringing the game into disrepute.

What is happening and what is next for Sri Lanka Cricket?

Fidel Fernando, Sri Lanka Cricket Correspondent on Sky Sports News:

“What is happening requires an explanation from the ICC. The ICC Board is made up of members of representative cricket boards from around the world. Sri Lanka is one of them.

“Shammi Silva, the Sri Lanka president, is one of the members of the ICC Board. The ICC Board has been convinced to fire a shot against the Sri Lankan government because what the ICC doesn’t want is for member boards to be intervened on or intruded on by their governments and that has been the case, or the Sri Lankan government has attempted that in the last week. The ICC doesn’t want that to happen.

“Silva was ousted briefly by that intervention and then reinstated by the courts, that has convinced the ICC Board to suspend Sri Lanka Cricket as a warning. There are no very serious, tangible, immediate repercussions for Sri Lanka Cricket itself at the moment.

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Sri Lanka’s Angelo Mathews was dismissed in bizarre fashion at the Cricket World Cup, timed out after not being ready to bat within two minutes of the previous dismissal

“When you read the word suspension, and I think that was deliberately chosen as a word, people go into a bit of panic and wonder if your team is eligible to play. But there is no cricket scheduled in Sri Lanka for the next month roughly. There is a domestic tournament in December but nothing for the men’s and women’s tournaments for a while, so I think this is a well chosen time to do this.

“The ICC went to send a message and there is nothing on the line in terms of matches happening in the next little while.

“Now it’s up to the Sri Lanka government, which is disunited and has many agendas within it. We will have to wait and see what their response is but my suspicion is the ICC’s move here may be somewhat successful in fending off the government’s advances.

“SLC (Sri Lanka Cricket) has had interim boards before and the ICC has never made this kind of suspension. They have never made this sanction even when they have had this intrusion from governments before.

“This is something new and we are treading on new ground here, so we will have to wait and see but my suspicion is the government will be deterred enough and a new cycle will have moved on enough because of the Sri Lanka men’s team crashing and burning at the World Cup, so this has been dominating the news cycle. Once that stops happening, the government will be less interested in the ins and outs at the SLC.”


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