Recognise authorship of Umpire Referral Rule:
Weeraratna appeals to SLC to intercede with ICC
How does one feel when one's idea is taken up at the international
level and not credited to him or his country?
This situation has been nagging Senaka Weeraratna who claims that the
basic elements of the new Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) have been
adopted from his ideas which he had conceived with a view to resolving a
vexed problem in cricket due to umpiring errors. The ICC has finally
decided to roll out the new system in Test Cricket from October 1, 2009.
Reputed cricket writers have observed that the Umpire Referral Rule
is the most revolutionary step taken to reform cricket rules since the
inception of the game, as the new rule challenges a fundamental premise
of traditional cricket i.e. Umpire's decision is final.
This finality is now no longer granted to an on field Umpire's
decision is largely due to the campaign of cricket reformers like Senaka
Weeraratna who believe that player dissent on field should be permitted
for a nobler cause i.e. to right a wrong.
Weeraratna claims that the use of the Third Umpire in an appellate
capacity with power to entertain direct appeals from a dissatisfied
player unhappy with the decision of an on field umpire is basically his
"I have publicised this concept by writing to newspapers, magazines
and cricket journals both local and international, over a period of time
beginning with my letter to the Editor of the 'Australian' newspaper
published on the 25th of March, 1997. I have also made written
representations to the national cricket controlling authorities of
several leading cricket countries including the then Board of Cricket
Control in Sri Lanka in 1997, and thereafter Sri Lanka Cricket, offering
my proposals as a solution to the tricky problem of umpiring errors that
invariably lead to a distortion in the outcome of a game.
Weeraratna is a lawyer and an old boy of Royal College, Colombo who
had played in school house cricket and been a reserve in the school
second eleven cricket team.
He obtained his law degree (LL.B.) from the University of Colombo Law
Faculty from where he also emerged as a popular undergraduate student
leader in the early 1970's. He won a string of students union elections,
becoming initially the Secretary and in the succeeding year the
President of the Law Faculty Students' Union, and subsequently he was
elected by his peers in the other Faculties as the Vice - President of
the Colombo University Students' Council.
Upon admission to the Supreme Court as an Attorney - at - Law,
Weeraratna proceeded to Australia for his post - graduate studies at
Monash University where he read for his Master of Laws (LL.M.) degree.
He has served in Australia in a number of capacities such as lecturer
in law, Legal Officer (Australian Federal Special Prosecutor's Office),
and Solicitor in a reputed Melbourne law firm. He has the distinction of
authoring the first legal thesis on foreign investment in Sri Lanka,
which he presented as his minor dissertation for his LL.M. degree at
Upon returning to Sri Lanka he served as a Legal Consultant to the
Law Commission and was closely associated with the drafting of the
Animal Welfare Bill. His last appointment was as the Director (Research)
at the Government Peace Secretariat which was closed down in July this
Recently, Weeraratna made a written appeal to Nishantha Ranatunga,
Secretary, Interim Committee, Sri Lanka Cricket, requesting SLC to
intercede on his behalf and more importantly on behalf of his country,
Sri Lanka, with the ICC, and obtain due acknowledgement for his
authorship of the Rule, as the country would be the biggest beneficiary
if the innovation of a Sri Lankan in respect to reform of Cricket Rules,
was recognized internationally.
Ranatunga had wanted an affidavit from Upali Dharmadasa who has
already acknowledged in a newspaper interview published on June 22, 2008
that he received the proposal from Weeraratna in 1997 with the request
that it be tabled at the next meeting of the ICC scheduled to be held in
Dharmadasa (the then President of the Board of Cricket Control) had
instructed his CEO Tryphon Mirando to study the proposal and submit a
report to the Board. Sadly Dharmadasa's term had ended in 1998 and with
it Weeraratna's proposal too had come to a grinding halt.
Weeraratna further says that the claim that the Umpire Referral Rule
in Cricket was borrowed from Tennis was untenable because adjudication
in Tennis is solely confined to line calls, and does not involve issues
related to speculation and judgment, for example, in studying the
virtual trajectory of the ball after it strikes the batsman on any part
of his body covering the wicket when determining appeals for Leg Before
Wicket (LBW). Further, the Instant Replay system to resolve tennis line
disputes was first introduced at the US Open in 2006.
In contrast Weeraratna had published his writings advocating an
appellate role for the Third Umpire as far back as March 1997.
Weeraratna has published his writings in the 'Times of London',
Melbourne 'Sunday Age, Pakistan 'Dawn', 'The International Cricketer'
(UK) Magazine, 'The Australian' , ' Northern Territory News' (Darwin),
Malaysian ' New Straits Times', 'Time' Magazine (June 7, 1999), and
several other Sri Lankan Newspapers.
In June 1996, Weeraratna was chosen for the best letter of the month
in the reputed 'International Cricketer' (UK) magazine, for advocating
two neutral umpires as against the then prevailing practice of having
one home umpire and one - third country umpire.
The Melbourne Cricket Club in its Library Bulletin 'Yorker' (December
1998)published two pieces of Weeraratna on Australia - Sri Lanka cricket
ties, on the eve of a visit to Australia by the Sri Lanka national
cricket team, with a salutary introduction of him as a ' key literary
proponent of the Third Umpire'.
Weeraratna finally says that the mandate of the Interim Committee
governing Sri Lanka Cricket is fairly broad. Its duties in promoting
cricket and the image of Sri Lankan cricket internationally are
As the only constituent body representing Sri Lanka at the ICC, SLC
must also address in addition to bread and butter issues, such issues as
the protection of the interests of Sri Lankan cricket writers who make a
contribution towards the advancement of the game beyond the boundary.