Sri Lanka’s Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe made a bold move on Monday by sacking the country’s cricket team, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), after a humiliating defeat by India in the 2023 ICC World Cup.
The decision comes after months of corruption allegations against the country’s richest sports body.
In a statement released by Ranasinghe’s office, he announced that Arjuna Ranatunga, the country’s 1996 World Cup-winning captain, will be the newly appointed chairman of a new interim council.
“Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe has formed an interim committee for Sri Lanka Cricket,” the statement said.
The main focus of the board will be to look into the issue of the Sri Lankan team’s poor performance in the World Cup.
Sri Lanka’s governing board has appointed a new seven-member committee, which includes a retired Supreme Court judge and a former board chairman, following the resignation of secretary Mohan de Silva.
The move is seen as an attempt to restore the image of Sri Lankan cricket, which has been tarnished by allegations of corruption and poor performances.
Ranasinghe publicly called for the resignations of the entire board following the 302-run defeat by hosts India in the World Cup.
The defeat saw Sri Lanka at one point 14-6 and all out for 55, prompting public outcry and a deployment of police outside the board’s office in Colombo following Saturday’s protests.
Ranasinghe had said the SLC officials had no moral or ethical right to remain in their posts and “should resign voluntarily”. He had previously accused the council of being “treacherous 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.
Ranasinghe wrote on Saturday to the full members of the International Cricket Council (ICC) – which has rules against political interference in the sport – asking for understanding and support, AFP mentionted.
“Sri Lankan cricket has been besieged with allegations of player disciplinary issues, management corruption, financial misconduct and allegations of match-fixing,” 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 seen as political interference.
There was no immediate reaction from the ICC to the latest move by Ranasinghe, who sacked a board elected in May, with chairman Shammi Silva serving his third consecutive term.
Sri Lanka have not won the World Cup since 1996, with Ranasinghe blaming the board for “degrading” standards.
Another cabinet minister, Prasanna Ranatunga — brother of the board’s recently appointed interim chairman — told parliament in August that the 1996 triumph was “the biggest curse on our cricket”.
“Money started flowing into cricket after 1996 and with it came those who wanted to steal,” he said.
A former sports minister, Harin Fernando, introduced tough anti-corruption laws in 2019 after he said the ICC considered Sri Lanka one of the most corrupt cricketing nations in the world.
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