Cricket has been once again been thrown into the headlines for all the wrong reasons following allegations of match fixing by former Sri Lanka captain Hashan Tillakaratne. Last week, the 43 year old claimed on a Sri Lankan TV chat show that match fixing has been a common practice in Sri Lankan cricket since 1992.
“Match fixing is not something that started happening yesterday or today. This has been happening since 1992 and I know all the people who are connected to it.”
A couple of days after these sensational allegations were made, Arjuna Ranatunga who captained Sri Lanka to a memorable World Cup win in 1996 said that he would be fully prepared to substantiate Tillakaratne’s claims. In response the Sri Lanka Cricket Board called on the pair to validate their claims with ‘concrete evidence’ and questioned why the revelations had been released only now.
“We also wish to state that we find it extremely strange that these so called ‘revelations’ are being made so many years after the alleged misdeeds. It is to be noted that there is a system in place, whereby any player or official who feels that there is suspicion of match fixing, he has to inform his Home Board and the ICC Anti Corruption Unit who would commence investigations into the matter immediately.”
However, today Tillakaratne promised to reveal full details of the match fixing and those involved with the scandal. He says that he will provide the ICC (International Cricket Council) with the information ‘at the appropriate time.’ He continued, “After I came out with these allegations I have been getting a lot of nuisance calls, death threats, but definitely I will expose all those who are involved in time to come.’
Doubts had been raised over his comments by Sri Lanka’s Sport Minister Mahindanada Aluthgamage due to Tillakaratne’s association with Sri Lanka’s main opposition party UNP (United National Party). However, the 43 year old denied that his allegations had a political motive behind them. Speaking to the Western Provincial Council (where he is elected) Tillakaratne said, ‘I have made these statements neither to gain any political mileage nor to put anyone in an awkward position. The core point of this exercise is to protect the game and the players we all love so much. For this venture, I hope the cricket supporters of this country will join hands with me.’
Tillakaratne refused to be drawn into naming those involved but hinted that a number of politicians and individuals who have been given ‘top positions in the cricket administration’ will be exposed when he takes his case to the ICC. Not surprisingly, Tillakaratne’s allegations have caused a storm in Sri Lankan cricket with legendary off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and Kumar Sangakkara responding angrily to the claims of their former teammate.
After the history of match fixing in the sport, the cricket world should brace itself for the worst. No-one knows how damaging the consequences will be when Tillakaratne reveals his information to the ICC but one thing that’s for sure is that this will be just another episode in cricket’s dark side and undoubtedly not the last. After the spot fixing scandal involving three Pakistani cricketers last year, this was the very last thing that the sport needed.