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Cricket corruption ‘goes right to the top’, says Ranatunga

Colombo: World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga 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 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.”