Player Referral Questioned-Senaka Weeraratna

The need to adopt UDRS (also called DRS) in cricket universally has now become a hot topic in the light of India’s sensational defeat in a thrilling Test Match played against Australia at Adelaide. India’s stark obstinacy in refusing to allow UDRS to function contributed to its own downfall because several blatantly wrong umpiring decisions that went against India in this match particularly in the tense final day could not be corrected because of the absence of the UDRS. It was these types of umpiring howlers that the system was originally designed to eliminate. But they  went unchallenged and India’s glorious challenge to mark a historic victory in Adelaide boosted by a record breaking two centuries in two innings in the same Test match by India’s defiant skipper Virat Kohli, went down the drain.

Thanks to India’s stupidity; India lost the match. They deserve it some cricket commentators are saying. India is the only country that has registered opposition to the UDRS. India is almost in total control of the ICC because of the money it generates. The rest of the members of the ICC including Sri Lanka tend to behave like puppets dangling on a string. With “Snicko” and “Hot Spot “in operation the UDRS is almost 99% correct, whereas  ground Umpiring decisions on close calls can never be more than 75% correct as we have seen on slow motion video replays of the incidents in question.  India must now put on the thinking cap and start to respect the collective wisdom of almost all Test playing countries (9 out of 10) which has accepted UDRS. Sachin Tendulkar is no longer in the game to protect using biased Umpires getting well paid by the Indian Premier League (IPL) and relying on lucrative assignments by India and then prepared to return the courtesy by giving close decisions in favour of the Indian players.  So long as India controls the ICC is there any hope that UDRS will be made compulsory for all countries?

Nevertheless, we again return to the topic of authorship of UDRS and again revisit a system accepted in all sports as a fair adjudicator but the prima facie issue is that while the system is being used the composer of that song is being shelved for no better reason other than him being non-white. If anyone is against racism being brought into the discussion, they may like to explain why Senaka Weeraratna of Sri Lankan origin who has been singlehandedly appealing to be given an impartial hearing by independent third parties or arbitrator to claim right to authorship is not even invited before the International Cricket Council (ICC), his claims are not been entertained or investigated properly and the ICC is not even naming an alternate natural person as composer of the UDRS.

‘Player referral’ concept first aired by a Sri Lankan

Senaka Weeraratna has incontrovertible documentary evidence to prove that since March 25, 1997 starting with a letter to the Editor of the ‘Australian’, he has written publications on the subject of ‘player referral’ which have appeared both locally and internationally. No one has yet come forward with a verifiable publication in support of ‘ player referral’ in any sport ( not only in cricket) until Senaka Weeraratna’s ground breaking concept was first aired in the ‘Australian’ ( March 25, 1997), and subsequently in the Sunday Times of Sri Lanka ( Letter to the Editor – April 6, 1997) and the London Times, UK ( Sports letters – May 2, 1997), among other newspapers.

Unfortunately, two obstacles stand in the way of Senaka Weeraratna gaining recognition for claiming authorship of ‘ player referral’ underlying the UDRS:

  1. The racism and Western white hegemony that prevails even in the realm of Sports, and
  2. The inability of key administrators of independent nations to decolonize their minds and fight for justice on behalf of their own people against white injustice and hegemony.

Indifference of the ICC

The ICC has been very indifferent to appeals made by Senaka Weeraratna. For lack of funds he is unable to press his case through using high profile lawyers and that has served the international cricket body well for they continue to use a system based on ‘player referral’ ( lynchpin of the UDRS and brainchild of Senaka Weeraratna) that they are reluctant to admit and name as that sourced from Senaka Weeraratna. As we all know the rain-affected reduced over formula applied in one – day ICC sponsored cricket matches, was created by two Britishers and that discovery quickly became internationally known as the Duckworth-Lewis system. Weeraratna has since March 1997 been writing on the need for player referrals to be directed to the third umpire and several sports correspondents, both local and foreign, have also written on the merits of Senaka Weeraratna’s claim for recognition of authorship of ‘ player referral’. However, at an international level when the ICC is silent and at the local level when Sri Lanka’s Government and its Cricket Board are also silent, justice is being denied.

Complicity of the GOSL and SLC

In fact both the GOSL and the Sri Lanka Cricket Board can be accused of being complicit in this matter of intellectual fraud because they have not shown any real concern to back the claims of a fellow Sri Lankan. Is it because they suffer from deep seated colonial mindset the hallmarks of which is an innate fear to stand up to the white man and to timidly accept everything and anything that the white man says irrespective of whether it is fair and just or rational?, or is it because of petty jealousy and envy a trait people of most former colonies suffer from?. It has been the proud Africans if at all who have challenged and continue to challenge the white man and his supremacy but the Asians by and large have preferred to remain docile, submissive and waiting to be led by the white man and often allowing the white man to claim authorship for discoveries and inventions that had origins in Africa and Asia long before the European nations became ‘civilized’.

Stolen knowledge

Nevertheless as in the case of Senaka Weeraratna, it is a question of intellectual property being robbed. His brainchild ‘ player referral’ is being used not only in cricket but in all other sports  without a word of acknowledgement or praise due to him. This is what is unfair. What makes his situation further exasperating is the fact that his own people i.e. the Govt., Sri Lanka Cricket Board, and even the people of Sri Lanka, are reluctant to fight on behalf of him to win what he is being denied and in turn his country of the glory and honour that inevitably accrues to a country for a monumental discovery (now universally applied) by a son of the soil. Whether it is because he is non – white or whether it is for some other reason, the ICC owes it to both Senaka Weeraratna and Sri Lanka to conduct an impartial investigation and invite him to present his case. The Sri Lankan Government through the Sports Ministry facilitated by the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Board must come out and honestly and openly admit that they did receive the proposals sent by Senaka Weeraratna to Mr. Upali Dharmadasa, then President of the Board of Control of Cricket in Sri Lanka in 1997 but they did not pursue his case despite his specific request that these ground breaking proposals be tabled by Sri Lanka at the very next meeting of the ICC in July 1997.  The two former Presidents of the Cricket Board can even now undo part of their default and resulting injustice by admitting lapses made by the Cricket Board (SLC) in not taking up the case effectively with the ICC.

Loss to Sri Lanka

The loser has been not only Senaka Weeraratna but also his country which is entitled to claim credit for the achievements of its sons and daughters, and it is now almost 20 years since he has been fighting a lone battle for due recognition or at least a fair and impartial investigation of his complaint with a handful of people making appeals on his behalf.

Putting ourselves in his shoes, we would also be frustrated at how the systems are running. Give credit where credit is due – ICC needs to reform itself as does the Sri Lanka Cricket Board and the Ministry of Sports acting under the auspices of the Government of Sri Lanka.

Shenali D. Waduge

සබැඳි පුවත්

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