Sri Lanka sacks cricket board days after World Cup thrashing by India

The country's 1996 World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga has been appointed chairman of a new interim board

By AFP

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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Published: Mon 6 Nov 2023, 9:04 AM

Sri Lanka's sports minister Roshan Ranasinghe sacked the national cricket board on Monday, days after a humiliating defeat by India at the World Cup.

Ranasinghe has been at loggerheads with Sri Lanka Cricket -- the richest sports organisation on the financially stricken island -- for months over allegations of widespread corruption.

The country's 1996 World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga has been appointed chairman of a new interim board, Ranasinghe's office said in a statement.

"Sports minister Roshan Ranasinghe has formed an interim committee for Sri Lanka Cricket," the statement said. The new seven-member panel also includes a retired supreme court judge and a former board president.

The move came a day after the board's second-highest officer, secretary Mohan de Silva, quit. Ranasinghe publicly demanded the entire board's resignations after Sri Lanka's 302-run World Cup thrashing by hosts India last week.

Sri Lanka were at one point 14-6 and were all out for 55, the fourth-lowest World Cup total in history, while chasing India's 358 in Mumbai on Thursday. The defeat prompted a public outcry and police have been deployed outside the board office in Colombo since angry protests on Saturday.

Ranasinghe had said that Sri Lanka Cricket officials had no moral or ethical right to remain in office. "They should voluntarily resign," he said. He had previously accused the board of being "traitorous and corrupt".

Sri Lanka play Bangladesh later on Monday and need a mathematical miracle if they are to squeeze into the last four of the World Cup.

On Saturday, Ranasinghe wrote to full members of the International Cricket Council (ICC) -- which has rules against political interference in the sport -- asking for understanding and support.

"Sri Lanka Cricket has been besieged with complaints of player disciplinary issues, management corruption, financial misconduct and match-fixing allegations," Ranasinghe said in the letters, released to Sri Lankan media. The minister was forced by the ICC to withdraw a three-member panel he had appointed last month to investigate alleged corruption at the board after it was deemed to be political interference.

There was no immediate reaction from the ICC to Ranasinghe's latest move, which dismissed a board that was elected in May, with president Shammi Silva on his third consecutive term.

Sri Lanka have not won the World Cup since 1996, with Ranasinghe blaming the board for the "deterioration" of standards. Another cabinet minister, Prasanna Ranatunga -- brother of the newly appointed interim board chairman -- told parliament in August that the 1996 triumph had been "the biggest curse for our cricket".

"Money started flowing to the cricket board after 1996 and with that came those who wanted to steal," he said.

A former sports minister, Harin Fernando, introduced tough anti-corruption laws in 2019 after saying that the ICC considered Sri Lanka one of the world's most corrupt cricketing nations.

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