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‘Lankan players fixing matches'

Hashan Tillakaratne.

Colombo: The ghost of match-fixing has returned to haunt international cricket with former Sri Lankan skipper Hashan Tillakaratne claiming that his country has been rigging matches since 1992. He also questioned the team selection for the World Cup final.

“I can tell this in agreement with my conscience. Match-fixing is not something that started happening yesterday or today. According to my knowledge, it's been happening since 1992. I say this with great responsibility,” Tillakaratne claimed.

Tillakaratne, who led the side in 10 Tests during his tenure as captain between 2003 and 2004, stopped short of calling the World Cup final fixed, but had some reservations about team selection.

“I am not saying that this match [World Cup final] was fixed. But anyway match-fixing is something which has been in this country over a period of time. This has spread like a cancer today,” he was quoted as saying by The Daily Mirror.

“Why were four players changed for that match?

“Why was Mendis removed, Kapugedara was never among the runs but he was chosen ahead of Chamara Silva. It is not fair, is it?” he added.

Interestingly, Tillakaratne had first made these comments on match-fixing in a television chat show almost a week after the World Cup final but his comments largely went unnoticed at that time.

Meanwhile, Sri Lanka's Sports Minister Mahindanada Aluthgamage rubbished Tillakaratne's claims and said his comments were totally uncalled for.

“I deny his comments and Hashan should show proof of match-fixing to the Ministry. If he gives us something in writing, we will look into it. I don't think any Sri Lankan player would do such a thing, they play for the country and they would never think of doing such a thing. These allegations are baseless,” he said.

Aluthgamage said Tillakaratne was making these claims to defame the government as he was now a part of the opposition United National Party.

Tillakaratne said people involved in fixing matches had been successful in burying the issue with money power.The former Lankan skipper also doubted the timing of the selection of the World Cup squad.

“The World Cup team was selected on the (January) 7th. I questioned in a TV show why this team was picked on the day before the IPL auction.

The IPL auction was on the (January) 8th. Then it was said that we have time when we pick the team before the IPL auction and it was said that we have enough time as there were ten more days. Those were the excuses given.

“Also at the provincial tournament on the (January) 11th, 12th and 13th, we had the quarterfinals, semifinals and the final. If Sri Lanka Cricket conducted a tournament, we could have watched those tournaments and picked the team two or three days later.

“In this country, there is a side which you don't know but I know. We discussed this. Inquire into this. Anyone can investigate this. Why was the team picked before the IPL auction?” he asked.

“This has been happening since 1992 and I know all the people who are connected to it. I say this with responsibility.

“This situation was always there. When it came out from time to time, it was quietly swept under the carpet.

“If someone doesn't intervene and stop this menace, within another two-three years in this country, with these politics, with these corrupt administrators, I believe this country won't be second to Pakistan in the near future,” he said. — PTI

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