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‘No India team has ever played so well here’

Arjuna Ranatunga, in a session of scathing criticism of the current Sri Lanka cricket administrators and sports minister Gamini Lokuge, said that corruption has taken centrestage in the country’s cricket management, reports Nilankur Das.

cricket Updated: Feb 07, 2009 23:18 IST
Nilankur Das

Arjuna Ranatunga, in a session of scathing criticism of the current Sri Lanka cricket administrators and sports minister Gamini Lokuge, said that corruption has taken centrestage in the country’s cricket management. At a press conference at the Sinhalese Sports Club on Saturday, Ranatunga alleged that Nimbus had offered as much as $10m for the broadcasting rights of India's tour here but the board had finalised the deal for only $6m.

"We would like to know what happened to the other $4m,” he said flanked by former players Hashan Tillakratne, Guy De Alwis, Ravindra Pushpakumara and Ruchira Pereira. Sri Lanka Cricket’s invitation for bids closed on January 19 and the floor price was $10 million. Anyone who had gone for the bid would have accepted to the floor price, Ranatunga, who along with his panel were sacked from the interim committee by the sports minister, explained. “After securing the bid, one day match was shifted from Dambulla and made a day-night affair. That should have fetched more money,” he said.

Denying allegations by the sports minister in an interview to HT that he was unpopular with the players, media and the sponsors, Ranatunga said: "During my interaction with everyone throughout my 12-month tenure as the chairman of the interim committee, I have never heard such things. My only advice to the players was to put country ahead of everything else and in this case everything else was money. Had the cricketers gone to their parents and told them what I had said they would also agree.

I wanted cricketers to play like we played our cricket. I have no issues with players earning money through IPL.”

Ranatunga went on to say that the cricketers were not to be blamed for the humiliation against India in the series. "All over the world you will see that wickets are made to suit the home team. Here the wickets were such that despite having two of the world's best spinners we could do nothing. This is what happens when you run cricket with people who don't know the game. They know there is a bat and a ball but don't know which is which. If you ask me frankly, I would say no India team has ever played so well here," he said answering to questions from the local media on whether he thought that the series was planned to help India win.