SLC lets down Sri Lanka by ignoring Lankan’s claim for authorship of UDRS
Posted on December 19th, 2013

Shenali D Waduge

Is it jealousy or simply a couldn’t care less attitude that stops a country from taking up a just cause on behalf of one’s own countryman who has been engaged in a lone battle almost single handedly to claim public recognition of his authorship of the player – referral rule which underlies the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) used not only in cricket but in other sports as well. All that the country, its Sports Ministry and in particular the Sri Lanka Cricket Board needs to do is to officially request the ICC – cricket’s world’s governing body to disclose who the true author of the UDRS is or carry out an investigation taking into account Senaka Weeraratna’s evidence shown through publications over the years commencing in March 1997.

 Why have both the ICC and Sri Lanka Cricket failed to do either? Why is the UDRS not named after the name of its author as the Duckworth and Lewis rule is? Is it the discomfort of naming an innovative cricket rule after a non – white the main problem?  

 Arguments by Senaka Weeraratna to claim UDRS authorship

  • May 1997 Senaka Weeraratna submited the initial player referral proposal to former President of Cricket Board – Mr. Upali Dharmadasa requesting the SLC to forward proposal to ICC as ICC does not accept individual proposals. SL Cricket officials failed to table the proposal at the ICC meeting held in July 1997 as requested by Mr. Weeraratna. Official records of the Cricket Board should be able to confirm receipt of this proposal in 1997.
  • Mr. Upali Dharmadasa has admitted receipt of proposal sent by Senaka Weeraratna in May 1997 in an interview given to sports journalist Mr. Saadi Thawfeek (Sunday Nation – 22 June 2008). In the interview Mr. Dharmadasa informed that he had instructed Board of Cricket CEO Mr. Tryphon Mirando to study the proposal and submit a report to the Board. Mr. Dharmadasa’s term ended in 1998 and Mr. Weeraratna’s proposal was totally forgotten. This default and gross negligence on the part of the Board of Cricket Control of Sri Lanka (predecessor of Sri Lanka Cricket) has cost Mr. Senaka Weeraratna an inestimable loss in establishing his claim to authorship of the ‘player referral’ mechanism vis a vis the ICC and deprived Sri Lanka of the honour and glory that a country gains due to the innovation of a product by one of its sons that is widely accepted and applied universally in the cricket world.
  • 25 March 1997 – Senaka Weeraratna’s letter to the Editor of ‘The Australian’ ( Australia’s National Newspaper) titled ‘Third Umpire should perform role of Appeal Judge’ highlighted main elements  of the proposed ‘ player referral’ rule 
  • 2 May 1997 – the article in the ‘Australian’ was republished in the Times of London,-1997.html

  • 9 May 1997 – Pakistan’s ‘Dawn’
  • 6 Apr 1997 – Melbourne ‘Sunday Age’
  • Malaysian New Strait Times – May 1997
  • The International Cricketer (United Kingdom) Magazine – May 1997
  • 6 April 1997 – Sunday Times, Sri Lanka and several other newspapers in Sri Lanka

  • 20 February 1999 – The ‘Weekend Australian’ published article by Senaka Weeraratna titled ‘A Spectators Appeal: Reform Cricket Umpiring’
  • 1 Mar 1999 – Fuller version of above article published in Northern Territory News, Darwin, Australia
  • 2 Mar 1999 – Fuller version of above article published in Sri Lanka ‘Daily News’
  • 14 March 1999 – Sunday Island, Sri Lanka
  • 7 Jun 1999 – ‘Time’ Magazine

.    21 March 2003 –  ‘The field umpire’s immunity limits appeal rights’ ‘Sunday Island’

Further evidence:

  • Moreover Wikipedia has also acknowledged and published the claims of Senaka Weeraratna

  • UDRS – the Sri Lankan Connection by Cricket Observer ‘Daily News’ Feb. 19, 2011

Despite lack of acknowledgement from official quarters there have been people who have supported Senaka Weeraratna’s claim:

Robert Steen, senior lecturer in sports journalism at the University of Brighton, England and reputed cricket commentator, in an insightful article on the ‘Cricinfo’ website under the title ‘Will the UDRS be proved a good thing?’ (Feb. 9, 2011) referred to the Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) as one of the most potentially far-reaching concepts the old game has ever known, and added as follows:

 ” LET’S REWIND to the hotly contested conception of the review system, for which Senaka Weeraratna, a lawyer, believes we must thank/berate him – and not, repeat not, the ICC.”

 Steen adds He (Senaka Weeraratna) has been arguing for some time, and with some vehemence, that it was his letter to Colombo’s Sunday Times, on April 6, 1997, the first of many such that sowed the seeds. In an ocean of common sense, that letter likened the players’ right to challenge to the appeal of a “dissatisfied litigant”.

As Simon Barnes put it recently in the Times: “Referral is not dissent, it is a legitimate process of truth-seeking.

 Robert Steen in another article based on a comprehensive survey done on all aspects of UDRS under the title Going upstairs: The decision review system “velvet revolution or thin edge of an ethical wedge? published in “Sport in Society Journal (Vol. 14, Issue 10, 2011) re-iterated the above as follows:

 “Senaka Weeraratna, a Sri Lankan-born lawyer .., maintains that it was his 1997 letter to The Australian, the first of many, which planted the seeds for what became the DRS. In writing it, illuminatingly, he likened the players’ right to challenge umpires to the appeal of a dissatisfied litigant.” (Allow appeals to the Third Umpire, Letters to the Editor, The Australian, 25 March 1997 (copy sent by author; referred to at

In August 2008 officials of Sri Lanka cricket personally handed to David Richardson, then General Manager of the ICC a folder full of publications by Senaka Weeraratna on the subject of player referral but Mr. Richardson did not give Mr. Weeraratna a meeting to present his case. Mr. Richardson as CEO of ICC is now claiming the UDRS system is borrowed from tennis. This claim is easily nullified because the use of video replay in tennis began in 2006 using Hawkeye technology and adjudication in tennis is determined by line call.

 The ICC ran trials for the new player referral system in November 2008 without identifying the author of the system. With the file of every aspect of the UDRS explained by Mr. Senaka Weeraratna in the dossier handed to Mr. Richardson in August 2008 completely ignoring to honor the Sri Lanka author boils down to nothing but to intellectual dishonesty, violation of copyright and fraud.

 What needs to be argued is that the UDRS did not fall from the sky. The system had to be conceived by a human mind or minds. If it is not Senaka Weeraratna – who is the author? The cricket world deserves to know. This is the question that any self – respecting nation and particularly its governing Cricket Board is morally obliged to ask the ICC given the strong claims made by a local country man and in his defence. The failure to do so on the part of Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Sports and Sri Lanka Cricket is tantamount to a dereliction of public duty and betrayal of Sri Lanka’s national interests. 

 The Duckworth-Lewis rule for rain affected games was attributed to 2 English statisticians Frank Duckworth and Tony Lewis, who came up with the formula to calculate which team was in the lead at the time of rain interrupting the game. Stuart Robertson, the former Marketing Manager, England and Wales Cricket Board, has been hailed as the founder of the Twenty 20 Cricket format. The rule thus was Christened by their names. 

We would like to know why has the UDRS yet to be christened in gratitude to the author given that UDRS has been in use since November 2009? We are also wondering whether it is because the author is non-white that the ICC is adapting a very colonial attitude to simply brushing off the claims of a non – white without doing the decent thing of conducting an investigation, calling all those who are claiming authorship to provide evidence and thereafter determining who the real author is. This should not be such a difficult thing to do.

 It is immoral for the singers to be using the song totally ignoring the composer. Both Sri Lanka Cricket and the ICC are guilty in this respect.

 The fact is that the singer cannot sing the song without acknowledging the composer and therefore cricket being a gentleman’s game it is only fair that if the ICC is not willing to accept Upali Dharmadasa’s acknowledgement or the present Board’s submission for Weeraratna’s claim of authorship an impartial inquiry conducted by a competent third party arbitrator should be held to ascertain who the composer of the UDRS system is.

It is said that the late Tony Greig had advised Senaka Weeraratna that to get the ball rolling it is the Sri Lankan State and Sri Lanka Cricket Board that must take up the cause with the ICC with full legal backing. Their failure in this instance is tantamount to a dereliction of national duty and let down of the huge cricket fan base in the country. 

 Simply because a person does not have the legal means or large scale financial resources or clout to press a case against use of his intellectual property should not mean that international corporate bodies such as the ICC and Sri Lanka Cricket should ignore and not take up the case where the prestige of awarding an internationally accepted referral system would bring pride not only to the author but to the entire nation. Is it not on this premise that the Sports Minister/Ministry, officials of Sri Lanka Cricket including former Cricketers take up this long overdue claim for justice on behalf of a fellow Sri Lankan, Senaka Weeraratna.

One Response to “SLC lets down Sri Lanka by ignoring Lankan’s claim for authorship of UDRS”

  1. douglas Says:

    Sonali S.Waduge: It is waste of time and energy to talk about this institution called SLCB. This is one among one of the highly corrupted and mismanaged Government entities under the Ministry of Sports. Do you remember one of its Chairman who distributed “bonus payments” while on a unprecedented Budget Deficit, among themselves and appointed one of his own nephews, who did not posses even the basic qualification of GCE(O) Level, to a position carrying a monthly salary of & 2000.00 a month, was appointed to a “Diplomatic” position. Even recently we understand that this Institution has paid $ 3.00 million to a South Indian in a settlement case for illegally airing IPL matches contravening franchise agreement. This is how this organization is managed and functioning.

    So do you think that this SLCB will labor to bring “prestige” to Mr. Senaka Weeraratne or the county? Your guess is as good a s mine

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.



Copyright © 2024 All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress