ECONOMYNEXT – A local police probe into allegations of match fixing at the 2011 Cricket World Cup final between Sri Lanka and India has not been satisfactory because key officials were not investigated, former Sri Laanka Sport Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told parliament on Tuesday (05).
“I am not satisfied with the investigation,” Aluthgamage said when opposition members asked if the former sports minister (and current minister of agriculture) would be penalised for levelling false allegations against cricket icons of Sri Lanka and tarnishing their image internationally.
“This is because the investigation never recorded statements from the then Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) chairman, secretary, or the team manager.”
Ahead of last year’s parliamentary election when Sri Lanka was grappling with the first wave of the COVID-19 epidemic, Aluthgamage charged that “certain parties” had “sold” the World Cup final and the 2011 World Cup to India. His controversial statement demanding a probe into the allegation got international media attention.
Sri Lanka’s Sports Ministry launched an investigation and Altughamage was among those who police detectives recorded statements from. Later a police Special Investigation Unit (SIU) quizzed 2011 Sri Lanka cricket captain Kumar Sangakkara for nine hours along with his vice-captain Mahela Jayawardena, opening batsman Upul Tharanga, and chief selector Aravinda de Silva.
The probe drew strong public criticism due to questioning of players and many cricket fans started to criticize President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s government.
The police within four days called off the investigations, citing a lack of evidence.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) later said there was no reason to doubt the integrity of the 2011 World Cup final in which India defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets. It categorically denied Aluthgamage’s claim, which he had formally submitted in writing to the ICC detailing his suspicions.
Senior cricketers saw Aluthgamage’s move as a publicity stunt ahead of the parliamentary elections. He polled the second highest preferential votes in the Kandy district and was later appointed Minister of Agriculture by President Rajapaksa.
Aluthgamage, however, now says the investigation was misled.
“I said no player was involved in this. Players were brought into the investigation as misdirection,” he told parliament.
“I told the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to record statements from the then Sri Lanka Cricket team manager Suraj Dandeniya, Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga, and Chairman D S De Silva. But no statement was recorded from any of them.
“But statements were recorded from players and submitted to the [Attorney General’s Department] and it was said that there was nothing to proceed with. So I am not satisfied.”
Current Sport Minister Namal Rajapaksa, responding to the opposition question, said penalising those who make such allegations would discourage people expressing their reasonable suspicions. (Colombo/Oct05/2021)