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Cricket corruption �goes right to the top�, says Sri Lanka

By The Assam Tribune

COLOMBO, May 30: World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga on Wednesday said corruption �goes right to the top� in Sri Lanka and accused the International Cricket Council of undermining the game by failing to tackle match-fixing.

Ranatunga, now a government minister, said cricket corruption in Sri Lanka went far beyond the claims made in an Al Jazeera documentary which aired on Sunday. Ranatunga said the allegations must be investigated, �but this must have been happening for a long time�.

�This is something that goes right to the top (in Sri Lanka). What they will catch is the small fish. As usual the bigger fish will get away,� he said.

The documentary alleged that a Sri Lankan player and groundsman were involved in a pitch-tampering plot and that there was spot-fixing during Tests between India and England, and India against Australia.

�I am so disappointed with the ICC anti-corruption unit,� Ranatunga said, referring to previous complaints against Sri Lanka Cricket, which is headed by politician and businessman Thilanga Sumathipala.

The 54-year-old, who led Sri Lanka�s 1996 World Cup-winning team, has in the past accused Sumathipala of involvement in gambling in violation of ICC rules. Sumathipala has denied the charge.

�If they can�t see what is happening in Sri Lanka... They should not sit on this anti-corruption unit,� Ranatunga told reporters.

He said the Sri Lankans implicated in the Al Jazeera documentary could not change the outcome of a Test match unless they had backing from superiors.

�They are small fish,� Ranatunga said referring to the groundsman of the Galle stadium, Tharanga Indika, and a district coach, Tharindu Mendis.

�They can�t do it unless they have agreement with those right at the top.�

Indika and Mendis have been suspended while the ICC investigates accusations made in Al-Jazeera�s undercover report. Sri Lankan police have also started an inquiry.

Asked if the Galle groundsman was in a position to tamper with the pitch, Ranatunga 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 said the global audience for cricket was declining because of corruption allegations. He blamed the ICC.

�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.

�They (the ICC) need to take a big step and take a lot of hard decisions,� Ranatunga added.

Ranatunga said last year, he raised suspicions that the 2011 World Cup final was tainted.

�The ICC did not investigate, Sri Lanka Cricket did not investigate and we allowed things to continue,� he said, adding that he was still distressed by Sri Lanka�s six-wicket defeat in the Mumbai final.

Sri Lanka, batting first, scored 274-6 in 50 overs and appeared in a commanding position when Indian superstar Sachin Tendulkar was caught for 18. But India turned the game dramatically, thanks partly to poor fielding and bowling by Sri Lanka. � AFP

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Cricket corruption �goes right to the top�, says Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, May 30: World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga on Wednesday said corruption �goes right to the top� in Sri Lanka and accused the International Cricket Council of undermining the game by failing to tackle match-fixing.

Ranatunga, now a government minister, said cricket corruption in Sri Lanka went far beyond the claims made in an Al Jazeera documentary which aired on Sunday. Ranatunga said the allegations must be investigated, �but this must have been happening for a long time�.

�This is something that goes right to the top (in Sri Lanka). What they will catch is the small fish. As usual the bigger fish will get away,� he said.

The documentary alleged that a Sri Lankan player and groundsman were involved in a pitch-tampering plot and that there was spot-fixing during Tests between India and England, and India against Australia.

�I am so disappointed with the ICC anti-corruption unit,� Ranatunga said, referring to previous complaints against Sri Lanka Cricket, which is headed by politician and businessman Thilanga Sumathipala.

The 54-year-old, who led Sri Lanka�s 1996 World Cup-winning team, has in the past accused Sumathipala of involvement in gambling in violation of ICC rules. Sumathipala has denied the charge.

�If they can�t see what is happening in Sri Lanka... They should not sit on this anti-corruption unit,� Ranatunga told reporters.

He said the Sri Lankans implicated in the Al Jazeera documentary could not change the outcome of a Test match unless they had backing from superiors.

�They are small fish,� Ranatunga said referring to the groundsman of the Galle stadium, Tharanga Indika, and a district coach, Tharindu Mendis.

�They can�t do it unless they have agreement with those right at the top.�

Indika and Mendis have been suspended while the ICC investigates accusations made in Al-Jazeera�s undercover report. Sri Lankan police have also started an inquiry.

Asked if the Galle groundsman was in a position to tamper with the pitch, Ranatunga 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 said the global audience for cricket was declining because of corruption allegations. He blamed the ICC.

�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.

�They (the ICC) need to take a big step and take a lot of hard decisions,� Ranatunga added.

Ranatunga said last year, he raised suspicions that the 2011 World Cup final was tainted.

�The ICC did not investigate, Sri Lanka Cricket did not investigate and we allowed things to continue,� he said, adding that he was still distressed by Sri Lanka�s six-wicket defeat in the Mumbai final.

Sri Lanka, batting first, scored 274-6 in 50 overs and appeared in a commanding position when Indian superstar Sachin Tendulkar was caught for 18. But India turned the game dramatically, thanks partly to poor fielding and bowling by Sri Lanka. � AFP

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