Cricket corruption ‘goes right to the top’, says Sri Lanka great

World Cup-winning skipper Arjuna Ranatunga (AFP)
Updated 30 May 2018
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Cricket corruption ‘goes right to the top’, says Sri Lanka great

  • 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
  • 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

COLOMBO: 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 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 off 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.
Local media raised suspicions of Sri Lankans throwing the match, but there was no formal call for an investigation until Ranatunga’s outburst last year.
Ranatunga said Sri Lanka’s humiliating 3-2 loss to bottom-ranked Zimbabwe in five one-day matches on home soil last year should also be investigated.
In 2016, the ICC imposed a three-year ban on a Sri Lankan official, Jayananda Warnaweera, for failing to cooperate with an anti-corruption investigation.
The former Test player, who was facing a two-year domestic ban over allegations of involvement in match-fixing, failed to attend interviews with ICC investigators.
Sri Lankan players and umpires have been accused of match-fixing in the past, but Warnaweera is the highest ranking official to be sanctioned.


From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

Updated 25 April 2019
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From near-death in Libyan desert to Saudi Arabia in 40 years: A history of the Dakar Rally

  • Race will start in Jeddah and make a stop in Riyadh before ending in Qiddiya
  • Take a look back at the most momentous moments

LONDON: A new and exciting chapter in the prestigious history of the Dakar Rally is ready to be written as the world’s biggest and most challenging rally confirmed it will debut in Saudi Arabia in January 2020.

1977: Inspiration
Biker Thierry Sabine gets lost in the Libyan desert while competing in the Abidjan-Nice Rally. After being rescued from the sands on the verge of death, he vows to share the scale and magic of the desert with the whole world.

1978: A dream come true
On 26 December 1978, a field of 170 adventurers starts its 10,000-kilometer quest through Algeria, Niger, Mali, the Upper Volta, and Senegal. A total of 74 vehicles make it to the finish on Place de l’Indépendance in Dakar, with Cyril Neveu at the helm.

1983: Ickx on all fronts
Celebrities and the best drivers and riders in the world heed the call of the Dakar. The combination is a successful one, with the six-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Jacky Ickx and comedian Claude Brasseur taking the spoils in the fourth edition.

1986: Tragedy strikes
Thierry Sabine and Daniel Balavoine die in a helicopter crash alongside pilot François-Xavier Bagnoud, journalist Nathalie Odent and radio technician Jean-Paul Lefur. Gilbert Sabine, the father of the creator of the race, takes over as director.

1992: Africa from north to south
The Dakar takes a break from the capital of Senegal to pit the competitors against the challenge of a lifetime. The drivers and riders have to tackle a route of almost 12,500 kilometers through 11 countries to cross Africa from one side to the other and reach Cape Town in South Africa. Stéphane Peterhansel (motorbikes) and Hubert Auriol (cars) stand atop the podium at the end of the Odyssey.

1998: Peterhansel rolls a six
The biker with a blue bandana emerges victorious from a clash of titans with Orioli and Arcarons to become the undisputed master of the category in the 1990s. His sixth win catapults him past Cyril Neveu as the event record holder. “Peter” has since added seven car victories to his tally!

2000: At the foot of the pyramids
The Dakar marks the turn of the century next to one of the seven wonders of the world: the Great Pyramid of Giza. Reigning champions Richard Sainct (motorbikes) and Jean-Louis Schlesser (cars) both manage to defend their titles against this prestigious backdrop.

2001: Miss Dakar
No one suspects that this will be the last Paris–Dakar. In contrast, everyone sees Jutta Kleinschmidt, who had made her Dakar debut in 1988 on a motorbike, become the first woman to win the rally, this time racing at the wheel of a Mitsubishi 4×4. She remains the only female winner of the event to date.

2009: Rising from the ashes in Buenos Aires
The Dakar picks itself up and crosses the Atlantic to rise from the ashes. A new era dawns with 4 million spectators turning out in force to cheer on the drivers and riders in the majestic landscapes of Argentina and Chile.

2012: Pacific Challenge
After three years with a route starting and ending in Buenos Aires, the organizers break the mold with a finish on the Pacific coast of Lima, Peru.

2014: Dizzying heights
Bolivia becomes the 28th country to host the Dakar. The Altiplano and Salar de Uyuni introduce a new test for the competitors: extreme altitude, which takes a toll on both their bodies and their machines.

2020: Chapter 3
In the wake of its first foray into Paraguay in 2017, the Dakar adds the 30th country to its list. In Saudi Arabia, the largest country on the Arabian Peninsula, the competitors will face challenges such as the “Empty Quarter,” a pristine expanse that has never been explored fully before.