Religion enters the fray as cricket followers await the coming of a Deliverer | Sunday Observer

Religion enters the fray as cricket followers await the coming of a Deliverer

28 February, 2021

At a time when clergymen in Sri Lanka are either sucked into politics or willingly enter it, a Buddhist monk lodged a virtual protest by entering and exiting a field that analysts say is now unavoidable even for faith keepers given the extent to which the public has been frowning on widespread financial mismanagement and injustice in cricket.

The monk, Battaramulle Seelarathana Thera, appeared from almost out of the blues to contest an election of office bearers who may become the so-called guardians of the country’s most adored sport of cricket which is currently embroiled in a never ending saga of financial greed and power abuse.

“Billions of dollars are lost in corruption and fraud at Sri Lanka Cricket. “They (club-elected officials) come and go spending millions in money. Join us all.

“The best sportsmen are among the clergy”, said Seelarathana Thera after submitting his nomination to contest the election on May 20 only to be disqualified a day later on technical grounds.

But cricket watchers said the Buddhist priest got what he wanted and that was to draw media attention and add his opposition to the governance of the sport that some are too afraid to confront either through fear of repercussions or that it could be a waste of time. Seelarathana Thera submitted his papers to contest the vice presidency supposedly nominated by a club named in honour of a Catholic saint, St. Anthony’s Sports Club, in the country’s north.

The monk’s opposition to the chosen few running the affairs of cricket is also seen as nudging the clergy of other religions, particularly in Christian schools that have guided many sporting personalities to don the Sri Lankan colours in cricket, rugby and athletics.

“We Sri Lankans have a lot of faith in sport as it showcases our country to the world while it also teaches fair-play and human values like religion does,” said Rizly Illyas, who heads Sri Lanka Rugby.

The administration of cricket has currently been taken to court by former players and administrators calling for a Constitutional change ahead of the election in what is been seen as a now-or-never stand against allegations of corruption at one of the richest money making public enterprises in the island.