Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga has made stunning allegations about corruption in the sport, saying it “goes right to the top” in Sri Lanka.
Ranatunga also lashed out at the International Cricket Council (ICC) for failing to tackle the problem of match-fixing.
Ranatunga’s comments come after a series of claims were made in an Al Jazeera documentary – “Cricket’s Match Fixers“.
The documentary has led to Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) suspending two former players – Jeevantha Kulatunga and Tharindu Mendis – as they were both allegedly seen on camera talking about corrupt activities.
Kulatunga is supposedly shown in a room with other people who are allegedly talking about fixing matches, while Mendis allegedly appeared in a different part of the documentary that investigated pitch-fixing.
Another ex-player, Dilhara Lokuhettige, is supposedly shown in the same room as Kulatunga. However, SLC CEO Ashley de Silva revealed that board can’t take action against him as he currently lives in Australia and is not an SLC employee.
The documentary also claims that Tharanga Indika, the assistant manager at Galle Stadium, was involved in pitch-fixing. Indika has since been suspended as well.
It is alleged that pitch-fixing occurred in Australia’s Test against Sri Lanka in Galle in 2016 and India’s Test match against Sri Lanka at the same venue last year.
It is understood that instructions were given to prepare a batting-friendly surface for the Test against India and a spin-friendly pitch for the Test against Australia.
When asked about the allegations made in Al Jazeera’s documentary, Ranatunga pointed out that it “must have been happening for a long time”.
“This is something that goes right to the top (in Sri Lanka), he was quoted as saying AFP. “What they will catch is the small fish. As usual the bigger fish will get away.
“I am so disappointed with the ICC anti-corruption unit. If they can’t see what is happening in Sri Lanka… they should not sit on this anti-corruption unit.”
Taking aim at Indika and Mendis, Ranatunga said: “They are small fish. They can’t do it unless they have agreement with those right at the top.”
Continuing on about Indika, the 54-year-old said: “There is a top guy involved. He should be held responsible. He should be suspended, not only the person who got (directly) involved.”
Ranatunga, who led Sri Lanka to World Cup glory in 1996, also blamed the ICC for taking a lackadaisical approach to corruption in the sport. He attributed this to cricket’s declining viewership.
“The ACU has been very poor. They have not used some of their powers and I think that is one reason why cricket has gone down very badly in the world in the last so many years,” he said. “They (the ICC) need to take a big step and take a lot of hard decisions.”
Last year, Ranatunga voiced his suspicions about the 2011 World Cup final being fixed, but pointed out that the ICC did nothing about it.
“The ICC did not investigate, Sri Lanka Cricket did not investigate and we allowed things to continue,” he said.