Roshan Ranasinghe, Sri Lanka’s sports minister, fired the national cricket board on Monday, only days after the country was humiliated by India in the World Cup.
Roshan Ranasinghe, Sri Lanka’s sports minister, fired the national cricket board on Monday, only days after the country was humiliated by India in the World Cup. For months, Ranasinghe has been at odds with Sri Lanka Cricket, the island’s richest sports organisation, over claims of widespread corruption. Arjuna Ranatunga, the country’s World Cup-winning captain in 1996, has been appointed head of a new temporary board, according to a statement from Ranasinghe’s office. “Sports minister Roshan Ranasinghe has formed an interim committee for Sri Lanka Cricket,” according to a press release.
A retired Supreme Court justice and a former board president round out the new seven-member panel.
The appointment occurred just one day after the board’s second-highest executive, secretary Mohan de Silva, resigned.
After Sri Lanka’s 302-run World Cup hammering by hosts India last week, Ranasinghe publicly requested the resignations of the whole board.
Sri Lanka led India 358-358 at one point and were all out for 55, the fourth-lowest World Cup total in history, on Thursday in Mumbai.
The setback sparked popular outrage, and police have been stationed outside the board office in Colombo since Saturday’s tumultuous protests.
Sri Lanka Cricket officials, according to Ranasinghe, have no moral or ethical right to continue in office.
“They should voluntarily resign,” he advised. Previously, he called the board “traitorous and corrupt.”
Sri Lanka plays Bangladesh later Monday and will require a mathematical miracle to advance to the World Cup’s last four.
On Saturday, Ranasinghe wrote to full members of the International Cricket Council (ICC), which has regulations against political intervention in sport, requesting understanding and support.
“Sri Lanka Cricket has been besieged with complaints of player disciplinary issues, management corruption, financial misconduct, and match-fixing allegations,” Ranasinghe stated in the letters, which were leaked to Sri Lankan media.
The ICC compelled the minister to disband a three-member panel he created last month to probe alleged corruption at the board after it was deemed political influence.
The ICC had no immediate reaction to Ranasinghe’s latest decision, which included dismissing a board that was elected in May, with president Shammi Silva serving his third straight term.
Sri Lanka has not won the World Cup since 1996, with Ranasinghe criticising the board for the “deterioration” of standards.
Another cabinet minister, Prasanna Ranatunga, the brother of the newly appointed temporary board chairman, told parliament in August that the 1996 victory was “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 pointed out.
Harin Fernando, a former sports minister, sponsored severe anti-corruption legislation in 2019 after claiming that the ICC regarded Sri Lanka to be one of the world’s most corrupt cricketing nations.