Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) on Thursday announced the appointment of veteran cricket administrator Ranjit Fernando as Manager of the National Team, just two days ahead of the team’s departure to South Africa for the three-match Test series starting with the Boxing Day Test in Port Elizabeth.

Fernando has been appointed manager for the upcoming tour of South Africa. (Getty Images)

Fernando has been appointed manager for the upcoming tour of South Africa. (Getty Images)

Fernando, 72, replaced Charith Senanayake who was removed on Wednesday under controversial circumstances. But officials tried to skirt around the issue using technicalities.

“The Board has taken a decision to appoint the manager on a rotational basis, and not only the manager but other support staff. The former Manager Charith Senanayake is an employee of SLC until his contractual obligations ends. As such he has not been removed,” said CEO Ashely de Silva addressing the media in Colombo.

Daily Mirror exclusively reported on Wednesday (7) that the Board is ‘not happy’ with Senanayake’s conduct after it had received a number of complaints and that, hence, he was likely to be replaced.

Speaking at the press conference, Senanayake denied this quoting SLC Chief Thilanga Sumathipala who had said there were no charges but that SLC was implementing a Board decision on rotation.

“I had a meeting with the President yesterday (Wednesday). I asked him what the allegations against me are. He said ‘no allegation’ but that they have a rotation policy and that’s why they are removing me,” Senanayake said, at the same press conference.

Senanayake will remain a SLC employee till his contractual obligations end in September but neither he nor the Board could explain in what capacity the ex-manager would function.

“I also don’t know,” Senanayake said, when questioned about this by journalists.

SLC Secretary Mohan de Silva, who chaired the press conference in the absence of SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala, struggled to explain what Senanayake’s future functions would be.

Senanayake, a former Sri Lanka cricketer, also made a sweeping attack on Daily Mirror which exclusively reported his impending sacking but refrained from naming the paper.

“When you report, please take responsibility in what you report. Because if you have any personal agendas, yes you can lash out it [sic]. It’s not only me, but lots of people have been targeted over the years. But you got to understand that when you write things like that, which are not true, without checking facts, you hurt a lot of people around us,” a visibly upset Senanayake said responding to a question.

“I hope the paper that wrote the article, that stinking article that I am axed, will write an article and clear my name and be on record I will not give any exclusive and I will not give any further exposure to the paper [sic],” Senanayake added.