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Sri Lanka’s cricket board dismissed after embarrassing World Cup defeat from India

Sri Lanka’s Dimuth Karunaratne walks after losing his wicket, lbw bowled by India’s Mohammed Siraj during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2023 match at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, India on November 2, 2023. — Reuters

Sri Lanka’s sports minister, Roshan Ranasinghe, made a bold move on Monday by dismissing the country’s cricket board, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), after a humiliating defeat by India at the ICC World Cup 2023.

The decision comes after months of corruption allegations against the country’s richest sports organisation.

In a statement released by Ranasinghe’s office, he announced that Arjuna Ranatunga, the country’s 1996 World Cup-winning skipper, will be the newly appointed chairman of a new interim board.

“Sports minister Roshan Ranasinghe has formed an interim committee for Sri Lanka Cricket,” the statement said.

The board’s main focus will be to investigate the matter of poor performance of the Sri Lankan team in the World Cup.

The Sri Lankan board of directors has appointed a new seven-member panel, which includes a retired Supreme Court judge and a former board president, following the resignation of secretary Mohan de Silva.

The move is seen as an effort to restore the image of Sri Lankan cricket, which has been marred by allegations of corruption and poor performance.

Ranasinghe publicly demanded the entire board’s resignations following a 302-run loss to hosts India at the World Cup.

The defeat saw Sri Lanka at one point 14-6 and all out for 55, sparking public outcry and police deployment outside the board office in Colombo since protests on Saturday.

Ranasinghe had said that SLC officials had no moral or ethical right to remain in office and “they should voluntarily resign”. He had previously accused the board of being “traitorous and corrupt”.

Sri Lanka plays Bangladesh later on Monday and needs a mathematical miracle if they are to squeeze into the last four of the World Cup.

Ranasinghe on Saturday wrote to full members of the International Cricket Council (ICC) — which has rules against political interference in the sport — asking for understanding and support, AFP reported.

“Sri Lanka Cricket has been besieged with complaints of player disciplinary issues, management corruption, financial misconduct and match-fixing allegations,” 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 deemed to be political interference.

There was no immediate reaction from the ICC to Ranasinghe’s latest move, which dismissed a board that was elected in May, with president Shammi Silva on his third consecutive term.

Sri Lanka has not won the World Cup since 1996, with Ranasinghe blaming the board for the “deterioration” of standards.

Another cabinet minister, Prasanna Ranatunga — brother of the newly appointed interim board chairman — told parliament in August that the 1996 triumph had been “the biggest curse for our cricket”.

“Money started flowing to the cricket board after 1996 and with that came those who wanted to steal,” he said.

A former sports minister, Harin Fernando, introduced tough anti-corruption laws in 2019 after saying that the ICC considered Sri Lanka one of the world’s most corrupt cricketing nations.

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