Sri Lanka’s Ranatunga slams ICC over match-fixing
ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s legendary cricket captain Arjuna Ranatunga today accused the ICC of ignoring repeated warnings and failing to stem the wave of corruption in a sport which had become a religion in South Asia.
The 1996 World Cup winning skipper also launched an attack on Sri Lanka Cricket and its President Thilanga Sumathipala on the eve of elections to the local governing body of the sport.
Ranatunga, 54, said corruption in cricket could be far worse than what was exposed in Sunday’s Al Jazeera documentary and accused the International Cricket Council for failing to take early action.
He said he suspected that Sri Lanka’s loss of an ODI series to minnow Zimbabwe last year may have been tainted and wanted that tournament investigate along with the 2011 World Cup final when Kumar Sangakkara’s side choked.
"If the ICC and Sri Lanka cricket acted at the time, we could have stopped this," he said referring to the 2011 defeat at the World Cup.
Sri Lanka, batting first, scored 274-6 off 50 overs and appeared in a commanding position when Indian superstar Sachin Tendulkar was caught for 18. India turned the game dramatically thanks partly to poor fielding and bowling by Sri Lankan players.
The local media at the time had raised suspicion that the Sri Lankans threw the match, but there was no investigation, despite one being promised by the former sports minister last year.
"If I am the Sports minister or If I become the president of this country, I will investigate the 2011 World Cup final," Ranatunga told reporters in Colombo.
He said he was shocked and surprised by how Sri Lanka lost the final match, but stopped short of accusing Sri Lankan players of throwing the match.
"I generally don’t get into details. but I was unhappy and surprised the way this (2011 finals) game went. I was glad when the former sports minister said he will inquire, but I don’t think anything happened."
"These things must have been happening. If you don’t stop them at the beginning, then this is what you get," he said referring to the latest Al Jazeera allegations of corruption in cricket, involving Sri Lanka.
He accused the ICC of turning a blind eye to the cricket management in Sri Lanka. He insisted that Thilanga Sumathipala should not have been allowed to hold office because of his alleged involvement in gambling.
Sumathipala’s family is known to be involved in accepting bets on horse races held abroad, but he has denied any involvement in the family business and has been allowed by the ICC to hold office.
Ranatunga and his brother Nishantha unsuccessfully attempted to dislodge Sumathipala and his team at the previous cricket board elections. Since then, Ranatunga has escalated his calls to investigate office bearers of Sri Lanka Cricket.
"I am so disappointed with the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit. If they can’t see what is happening in Sri Lanka — I am not criticising my own country — but if they can’t see the people who run cricket in this country are directly or indirectly involved in gambling, if they can’t find out, they should not sit on this ACU.
"The ICC always behaves like tooth-less tigers. They shout but nothing happens. The ICC needs to take a big step on this, they need to take hard decisions."
He said the ICC had not used their powers to check corruption.
"I think that is one reason why cricket has gone down very badly in the world in the last so many years."
He said the allegations in the Al Jazeera documentary were worth investigating, but noted that the four Sri Lankans mentioned in it were "small fry."
"We need to investigate, but this must have been happening for a long time. This is something that goes right to the top. What they will catch is the small fish. As usual the bigger fish will get away." (COLOMBO, May 30, 2018)