The recent uproar within Sri Lankan cricket administration has reached new heights, with the International Cricket Council (ICC) saying it would investigate allegations the 2011 World Cup final between Sri Lanka and India, which India won, was fixed.
An official from the ICC reportedly said the world cricket governing body was ‘looking forward to talking to him [former minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage who made the allegations]’, ‘to see if there were any matters worthy of investigation.’
On June 11, Aluthgamage—who was sports minister in 2011—told a local television station he did not accept Sri Lanka’s defeat at the 2011 World Cup final, saying, “We sold the 2011 World Cup finals.”
As expected, the accusation was not received well. 2011 World Cup captain Kumar Sangakkara tweeted the former minister ‘ought to take his “evidence” to the ICC’, and 2011World Cup Vice-Captain Mahela Jayawardene asking sarcastically if elections were around the corner, because ‘the circus has started.’
A number of others, whether related or not to the incident, have jumped on the bandwagon. ‘
Chairman of the Selection Committee at the time—and former World Cup final winning cricketer—Aravinda de Silva said no one should get away with ‘telling lies’ and has demanded the ICC, the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) launch a probe into the allegations.
“Here is a man who has no reputation or credibility trying to cast wild allegations at all those who were involved with that game. I am ready to face any inquiry. But these liars should not be spared. As I said, they are tarnishing our hard-earned reputations,” de Silva said.
Opposition politicians from the Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) and the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) have also condemned the allegation and urged President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to investigate the incident that has ‘insulted and tarnished the image of our cricketers’.
Former MP Namal Rajapaksa called on the ICC and the Minister of Sports (Dullas Allahaperuma) to hold an immediate and impartial investigation on the matter.
‘Accusations such as these are very serious and tarnish the image of a sport that we all truly love,’ he tweeted.
Meanwhile, former SLC President Thilanga Sumathipala further raised the ire of the cricketers by saying there was no need for them to be anxious about the accusations if they had done no wrong.
“If the players are not involved in it—the match-fixing—why are they anxious about it?" he asked. “If you have not done any wrong, you should not wear the hat.”
His comment drew another sarcastic response from Jayawardene, who tweeted, ‘I am sorry. Next time we will check with him before reacting and wearing the hats since he has vast experience on the subject matter.’
Aluthgamage, who had initially refused to provide any evidence of his accusations, later reacted to the flurry of responses, alleging that changes were made to the 2011 World Cup final team without his knowledge.
“The team who played the final match was not the team we had selected, finalised and sent off,” he said. “At the last moment, without the consultation of either me, as the then minister of sports, or officials of the Sri Lanka Cricket Control Board, four new players had been included to the team. How could four players get replaced without due approvals and consultations?”
The former Sports Minister also said he had lodged a complaint with the ICC in 2012 regarding the matter, but he had not received a response.
He is backed by former state minister Ranjan Ramanayake, who said he had proof certain ‘influential people got luxury jeeps from India’ in exchange for fixing the 2011 World Cup final.
“I made these allegations both at a press conference and in Parliament years ago and no one took any notice,” he said. “However, Minister Aluthgamage had confirmed my allegation.”
He added he would lodge complaints with the CID, the Bribery Commission and the ICC, calling for investigations on the 2011 World Cup final.
Aluthgamage too, pointed to the fact that in his complaint to the ICC, he had requested an investigation into how ‘certain cricket officials’ had been able to ‘purchase car companies and started new businesses within a year of losing the match.’
He did, however, reiterate he did not mean the cricketers were involved. “Mahela has said that the circus has started. I don’t understand why Sanga and Mahela are making a big deal about this,” he said. “ I am not referring to any of our players.”
Former sports officials have raised issues with this aspect as well.
“If the players are not involved there are two remaining factions. That is the political authority and the SLC,” K. S. Peiris, a former deputy director at the department of sports development, told News First.
He had added it was the responsibility of former minister Aluthgamage to divulge the names of those who were involved.