Australia beat India by 65 runs in 1st ODI

Australia beat India by 65 runs in the first tri one-day series international at the Melbourne Cricket Ground today. Earlier, Debutant Matthew Wade clubbed 67 and David Hussey a brisk unbeaten 61 as Australia reached 216 for five off 32 overs.

Wicketkeeper Wade followed up his big-hitting 72 in the Twenty20 series with a belligerent 67 off 69 balls with two sixes and four fours to push the home side to a competitive total after rain reduced the scheduled 50-overs a side game.

David Hussey followed up with a sprightly 61 off 30 balls, including two sixes in the final over off Ravindra Jadeja to have the Australians scoring at 6.75 runs an over.

Australia were 35 for two after 11 overs when rain hit the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

But the home side came out blazing after the weather interruption adding 181 in 21 overs.

Paceman Ranganath Vinay Kumar was the best of India’s bowlers with three for 21 off seven overs, while the spinners were clobbered.

Ravi Ashwin went wicketless for 48 from his five overs, leg-spinner Rahul Sharma had one for 44 off 6.2 overs and Jadeja had 41 taken off 16 balls.

India had some early joy, removing the dangerous David Warner for eight, going for a slog only to be bowled by Vinay Kumar, while Ricky Ponting went for two after hitting straight to Suresh Raina at short extra cover off Kumar. (AFP)

Yuvraj diagnosed with cancer

Yuvraj Singh, who played a stellar role in India’s ODI World Cup triumph last year, has been diagnosed with cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy in the United States.

The 30-year-old left-hander has been in US since last month being treated for what was earlier claimed to be a tumour in the lungs by his family.

But it has now been diagnosed as malignant and Yuvraj is currently undergoing chemotherapy in the Cancer Research Institute in Boston.

His physiotherapist Dr Jatin Chaudhary, however, assured that the ailment is curable and the batsman would be fit to resume cricket in May. His mother Shabnam Singh could not be reached for her comments.

“It is a rare tumour and is cancerous but it has been detected in stage one itself. Doctors had to decide whether to continue medication or go for chemotherapy but since parts of the tumour are just above the artery of his heart, there was a danger that while running it could burst. But it is 100 per cent curable,” Chaudhary said.
“The doctors decided that he would have to undergo chemotherapy and he travelled to the US on January 26. End of March, he would undergo a CT scan and should recover by then. After that it is just some rehabilitation in April before he is fit to be back on the field in May,” he added.

Yuvraj, who was Player of the Tournament in the World Cup last year with 362 runs, 15 wickets and four Man-of-the-Match awards, has also been taking ayurvedic medicines to battle the disease.

“After ayurvedic treatment only three cycles of chemotherapy are required. Initially when the cancer was diagnosed after a biopsy in October end, doctors feared that the treatment would be six cycles of chemotherapy,” Chaudhary said.

“Thankfully no surgery is required, he is already a lot better than what he was and can’t wait to be back on the cricket field,” he said.

Chaudhary said the detection of cancer was delayed by wrong diagnosis by an Indian hospital.

“His first biopsy report was stolen from his car and the second from a hospital, I don’t want to name, did not give the correct diagnosis. It was a Russian doctor who detected the cancer and after consultations with doctors in US, it was decided that Yuvraj would undergo chemotherapy,” he said.

“Once he is done with chemo in March, his rehabilitation would be complete by April end and he would be perfectly fit to play in May,” he added.

Yuvraj has played 37 Tests, scoring 1775 runs at an average of 34.80.

He has 8051 runs at an average of 37.62 from his 274-match ODI career, the highlight of which was his stellar role in India’s World Cup triumph last year.

In 23 Twenty20s, Yuvraj has scored 567 runs at 31.50. (Deccan chronicle)

Lee out of ODI tri-series

Australian paceman Brett Lee will miss the entire tri one-day series against India and Sri Lanka after being diagnosed with a broken toe, Cricket Australia said on Sunday.

Cricket Australia said Lee, 35, suffered the fracture after he was struck by a ball in his last over against India in Friday’s Twenty20 international at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Team doctor Trefor James said Lee, who has made 205 ODI appearances, will be out of cricket for up to six weeks.

“Brett Lee sustained a fracture of his right foot when he was struck by a ball in his last over of the T20 match on Friday,” James said in a statement.

“He was able to complete the over however the foot became more painful and swollen the following day.

“An X-ray has confirmed a fracture of the small toe and we now expect Brett will return to cricket in four-six weeks.”

CA said a decision regarding a replacement player for Lee would be made after Sunday’s opening ODI against India at the MCG. (AFP)

Mahela sold for $ 1.4 mn at IPL

Mahela Jayawardene was bought by the Delhi Daredevils for $ 1.4 mn, while his Sri Lankan teammate Muttiah Muralitharan was picked up by the Royal Challenges Bangalore for $ 2,20,000 in the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction today.

The auction saw 144 players, including several former Kochi Tuskers Kerala players, go under the hammer. These players, picked according to a combination of their valuation and star worth, were put up for auction.

Other Sri Lankans sold today are Dinesh Chandimal to Rajasthan Royals for $50,000

The Rajasthan Royals said they purchased Chandimal as they feel he is very talented and is seen as the next Mahela or Kumar Sangakkara.

UPDATE: Sri Lanka PM XI match abandoned

The Australian Prime Minister’s X1 one-day cricket match against Sri Lanka in Canberra was abandoned today following heavy rain.

It was due to kick off at 10am Australia time at Canberra’s Manuka Oval, but could not even start by afternoon.

The match was to pit a young Australian team headed by Brad Haddin against Mahela Jayawardene’s squad.

Meanwhile the Sri Lankan cricketers met Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at a reception she hosted for the team at her residence yesterday.

The Sri Lankans are in Australia for the Commonwealth Bank Tri Series, which features India and the hosts.

The series gets under-way on February 5 with Australia taking on India at Melbourne. (Pics courtesy Island cricket)

Australia continues domination over India

By Dinouk Colombage

 

India recorded their fifth straight loss in Australia as they went down by 31 runs in the first of two 20/20 matches in Sydney.

Chasing 171 for victory, the hosts were pegged back in their chase in the very first over when Brett Lee removed Virender Sehwag for 4. The Indians never recovered as they continued to lose wickets at regular intervals which saw the run-rate enjoy a comfortable rise.

Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli looked to grab some momentum back for the visitors as they went after Lee Faulkner. However, with the rate always touching nine runs an over the pressure continued to tell on the pair.

David Hussey’s introduction to the bowling attack paid dividends immediately as he removed Gambhir for 20. This wicket signalled a mini collapse as India lost 3 wickets for 6 runs to all but leave their chase in tatters.

Brad Hogg’s surprise return to international cricket was marked with a wicket in his first over as he accounted for Kohli with a full toss. Hussey returned the next over to bowl Rohit Sharma for a first ball duck to leave India reeling at 53-4.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Suresh Raina looked to try and get India’s chase back on track; however, the captain struggled to score. Raina dragged Daniel Christian back on to his stumps ending a promising partnership.

With only the tail left as company Dhoni looked to up the tempo as he attacked Christian, scoring 15 runs off the 16th over. However, his assault came too little too late as Australia ran away comfortable winners.

Earlier in the day Australia was put in to bat by Dhoni and capitalised on first use of the wicket through a breath-taking 72 runs from Mathew Wade. Having coming in to the team in palce of the out of form Brad Haddin, Wade set about announcing his presence by guiding the Australian innings.

His half century was coupled with an aggressive 42 from Hussey, who showed that he can be relied on to finish an innings.

Australia’s innings got off to a rapid start as David Warner, the only member of the test side, blasted 25 off 14 balls.

Australia now takes a 1-0 lead in to the second and final 20/20 match in Melbourne on Friday. For India, their only hope is that their fragile batting line up can finally click.

Mahela among expensive IPL players

Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene is among the top players commanding the highest prices at the Indian Premier League (IPL) auction for this year, the Indian media reported.

According to the Indian Express VVS Laxman, S Sreesanth and Brendon McCullum — all part of the now-defunct Kochi Tuskers Kerala in the 2011 IPL — command the highest reserve price of US$ 400,000 in the final auction shortlist for the 2012 season.

The Kochi trio joins England offspinner Graeme Swann, who is yet to feature in the IPL, as the four players to command the maximum base price in the 144-strong list. They will go under the hammer when the players auction for the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League is held on February 4.

In all, 16 Kochi players feature in the list including Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene (reserve price US$ 300,000) and offspinner Muttiah Muralitharan (US$ 200,000).

Brad Hogg, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Usman Khawaja, Luke Ronchi are among the 16 players from Australia who will be up for sale.

From England, 13 cricketers, including James Anderson, Ian Bell, Owais Shah, Ravi Bopara and Chris Tremlett will be up for grabs. South Africa and New Zealand will have 19 and 10 players respectively, while dashing opener Tamim Iqbal will be the lone cricketer from Bangladesh to go under the hammer. Sri Lanka will have as many as 18 cricketers, while West Indies and Zimbabwe will have 16 and seven players respectively in the auction list.

Tom Cooper, who played 18 ODIs will be the sole player from Holland, while O’Brien brothers — Niall and Kevin — from Ireland will also be up for auction, the Indian Express reported.

“The shortlist comprises some outstanding cricket talent. Given that it was prepared on the basis of the feedback of the franchises themselves, the stage is set for an exciting and eventful player auction, this Saturday,” IPL Chairman Rajeev Shukla said in a statement.

Holyfield meets the President

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa is seen here inspecting the ear of former world boxing champion Evander Holyfield when the latter called on the President today. Boxer Mike Tyson bit Holyfield’s ear during a match in 1997.

Holyfield is in Sri Lanka as part of the Global Peace Initiative and he had also visited the country in 2005 to assist people affected by the 2004 tsunami.

Holyfield moved up to heavyweight in 1988, winning his first six fights, all by stoppage. On October 25, 1990, Holyfield knocked out heavyweight champion James “Buster” Douglas, to claim the WBC, WBA, & IBF heavyweight belts (undisputed world heavyweight championship).

He retained the Heavyweight crown three times, which included victories over former champions George Foreman and Larry Holmes, before suffering his first professional loss to Riddick Bowe on November 13, 1992. Holyfield regained the title in a rematch one year later, beating Bowe by majority decision for the WBA and IBF titles. Holyfield later lost the titles to Michael Moorer on April 22, 1994, by Majority Decision.

Holyfield was forced to retire in 1994, only to return a year later. On November 9, 1996, he went on to defeat Mike Tyson by eleventh round technical knockout to win the WBA title, in what was named fight of the year and upset of the year for 1996 by The Ring magazine. Evander Holyfield became the first Heavyweight since Muhammad Ali to win the World title three times.

Seven months later, Holyfield won the 1997 rematch against Tyson, when the latter was disqualified in round three for biting off part of Holyfield’s ear. During his reign as champion, he also avenged his loss to Michael Moorer, when he stopped him in eight rounds to win the IBF belt.

In 1999, he faced Lennox Lewis in a split draw, but was defeated in a rematch eight months later. The following year, he won a unanimous decision over John Ruiz for the vacant WBA heavyweight championship, becoming the first boxer to win a version of the heavyweight title four times. Holyfield would lose a rematch with Ruiz seven months later and would face him for the third time in a draw.

Holyfield is still an active Boxer as of 2011 and has a professional record of 44 wins, 10 losses, 1 draw and 1 no contest. He is ranked #77 on Ring Magazine’s list of 100 greatest punchers of all time.

Sanga maintains top Test ranking

Former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara continues to maintain his number one position in the latest ICC Test rankings for batsmen.

Sangakkara heads the rankings for this week with 850 points followed by South Africa’s Jacques Kallis who has 846 points and Australian captain Michael Clarke on 821 points.

Sangakkara had maintained his good form with the bat during his last two Test outings against Pakistan and South Africa.

Thilan Samaraweera, who performed exceptionally well against South Africa after being included as a replacement, is also in the top ten ICC Test rankings for this week and comes in and number seven.

Sangakkara is meanwhile the only Sri Lankan to figure in the top 10 for ODI batsmen coming in at number seven.

There are no Sri Lankans in the top 10 for Test bowlers while in the ODI bowlers rankings Lasith Malinga comes in at number 10.

In the team rankings for Test matches Sri Lanka finds itself at a low 6 just ahead of the West Indies, New Zealand and Bangladesh.

Sri Lanka is at number  4 in the ODI team rankings and number 2 together with New Zealand in the T20 rankings.

Haddin may miss tri-series opener

Australia’s woefully out of form wicketkeeper Brad Haddin could be replaced by Matthew Wade behind the stumps in the first three one-dayers of the tri-series against India and Sri Lanka starting on February 5.

Haddin, retired from Twenty20 cricket, was criticised for a below-par show in the Test series against India that Australia won 4-0. He did show some good work in the final Test but that may not be enough.

Wade will keep in the two Twenty20 matches against India in Sydney and Melbourne this week and is expected to be picked for the first three ODIs when the squad is announced on Monday.

Australia’s performance manager Pat Howard said performance would be sole criteria for picking the squad.

“You need sufficient skills to be within the frame, obviously. No one is picked if they don’t perform to be recognised for their core skills,” Howard was quoted as saying by ‘ESPN Cricinfo’

“But then the selection panel (also) considers their contribution to the team, the effect those players are having on the team – are they coming from winning teams?

“All those things are important to assess what impact those players are having. And obviously John (Inverarity) being able to sit down with the players to hear about who the good leaders are in other teams and getting feedback can add so much to your selection decisions,” he added. (PTI)

Dharmadasa backs SLC changes

Sri Lanka Cricket Board President Upali Dharmadasa has backed the major changes announced recently in the cricket management and team.

In a statement to the media Dharmadasa said that the changes were required to take Sri Lanka cricket forward.

The statement said :

“Many seem to criticize Sri Lanka Cricket for the Changes we implemented by appointing a New Captain, Coach, Team Manager and the Selection Committee. We would like to assure the Cricket loving public here in Sri Lanka and to our numerous fans that support Sri Lanka Cricket globally that we will reap the benefits of these changes in the fullness of time.

Thilekaratne Dilshan has been a great servant of Sri Lanka Cricket from the time he made his debut in 1999, and we are proud of him. He has represented Sri Lanka in 77 Test Matches and 224 One day Internationals. He has led the team well, during his tenure, he stood against very tough oppositions namely England on English soil, Australia, Pakistan in the UAE and South Africa in South Africa. Dilshan has been exceptional, unfortunately for him, we were in the process of team building after the World Cup, hence we had teething problems. Under Dilshan’s leadership we did very well to beat South Africa in a Test match for the first time in their home soil. We lost the ODI series 3-2, however the series could have gone either way, we were unlucky that Duckworth Lewis came into the equation in the 3rd ODI; otherwise we would be reading different scripts.

Our National team ended the series on a high, by beating the Protease in the last two one day Internationals, chasing totals of 300 plus runs which is an exceptional achievement.  We infused young blood into the Test and one day series in South Africa, we are proud to state, that Dinesh Chandimal, Lahiru Thrimanne and Thissera Perera proved to the Cricketing World that they belong to the International arena.

We appointed Mahela Jayewardene, our former Captain to take over the reins taking into consideration his capabilities, skill level coupled with his authoritative and modest personality as a leader, who will guide our youngsters and the team to greater heights. This change will also help Dilshan to concentrate more on his game, to play his Cricket with a free mind by not taking the burden of Captaincy on his shoulder.  We strongly believe Dilshan’s contribution will be much more if he is relived of additional responsibility. This  will help the teams overhaul performance.

We extend our sincere gratitude to Geoffrey Marsh. We realize it is no easy task to take over and produce results overnight. Sri Lanka Cricket has to move on. We need to reach Cricketing Excellence, sooner rather than later. We had done a lot of constructive research to source the best man for the job, Graham Ford of South Africa came to our reckoning based on the fact that he can cope with the demand  a 2st Century Coach has to cope with in the International arena. He has had an excellent track record not only as a Coach but also in management. Very similar to Australia’s most successful Coach of the 21st Century John Buchanan, Graham too  has had limited exposure in the International arena as a player, however the track record of both these gentleman in their Coaching capabilities is far beyond compare.

Graham started his Coaching career with Natal Province and ended up as their Senior Coach in 1992. With the help of Malcolm Marshall and Clive Rice Graham Ford was instrumental in guiding a crop of young hopefuls in the mid nineties namely Shaun Pollock, Jhonty Rhodes, Lance Klusner, Neil Johnson  who excelled for South Africa  along with a host of youngsters like Dale Bekenstein. Graham who took over from Bob Woolmer as the South African Coach in 1999 ended his tenure in 2001 by guiding South Africa to 8 wins in 9 series as head Coach of the protease. English County Kent appointed Graham as their Cricket director in 2004, he returned to his home land in 2006 to guide South Africa’s premier club “Dolphins” to great heights, in a very competitive domestic Competitions. India tried to source him in 1999, they failed, but we are proud of getting his services in 2012.

Anura Tennekoon bids farewell after an excellent service he rendered to the National team as Manager since 2010.

We have replaced Anura by appointing Charith Senanayake former National player. We envisage Charith to be of immense help and support to our National team. Incidentally he is no stranger to the current squad and is also no stranger to the dressing room.

We are grateful to the government and the Honorable Minister of sports for helping Sri Lanka Cricket through stormy waters. We assure you the current crisis as defined by some, is only temporary, financially we will be stable shortly. We have a host of youngsters with excellent skill level, for the future, we will make our objective of reaching Cricketing Excellence a reality, we request all of you to rally round us and support the game by encouraging us to guide Sri Lanka cricket to greater heights”.

Clarke and Ponting smother India

By Dinouk Colombage

 

India’s chances of regaining some pride in the fourth and final test in Australia took a serve beating on the first day in Adelaide as Ricky Ponting and Michael Clarke both posted dominating centuries.

The pair ensured the day belonged to the hosts as they helped Australia to a commanding 335-3 by stumps.

With speculation once again amounting over whether or not Ponting will be calling it a day on his career, the former captain answered his critics with his second hundred in three games. On the other side Clarke continued his fine form with the bat as he posted his fifth century in only twelve games as captain, and followed up his triple century in Sydney.

The Indian bowlers can be forgiven for thinking that this was Sydney all over again as they went through two whole sessions without picking up a wicket that saw an un-beaten 251 partnership develop. To make matters worse, India now faces the task of picking up seven more wickets on a track that promises to make batting easier, while also keeping the runs down.

Ponting looked the best he has since relinquishing the captaincy, and with having broken his century drought in Sydney, was well on his way to yet another ton. Crisp driving down the ground and trademark swivelling pull shots were the highlights of the man’s innings. Just to stamp his authority on the game Ponting brought up the landmark with a classy glide between the gully and point fielder. Having brought up his century Ponting seemed determined to make it count as he settled down to play more test like innings close out the day on 137 not out.

Clarke was at his flamboyant best in his knock illustrating none of the pressures that seemed to have haunted his predecessor as captain. Using his feet against the spinners and driving off the back-foot against the fast bowlers were as much a testament to his form as it was to the poor bowling shown by the Indians. Consecutive boundaries saw Clarke bring up his third century of the summer, and his fifth as captain.

For the Indian bowlers there was little to cheer about after lunch as they were forced to toil in 35 degree desert heat against two batsmen who looked like they were having a net session. Prior to lunch many spectators were treated to a match that was evenly contested. The visitors were able to pry out the early wickets of David Warner and Shaun Marsh to grab the advantage. Ponting and Ed Cowan combined to wrestle back some initiative before Ravichandran Ashwin removed the left-hander opener.

Sadly for the visitors that were all they had to cheer about as the bowlers lacked not only confidence but also discipline and even a sense effort. Umesh Yadav, the lone shining light for the Indians this series, was badly off the mark returning figures of 12 over for 87 runs. Zaheer Khan and Ishant Sharma were miserly without every looking dangerous. Ashwin was used sparingly on a day that saw the stand in skipper, Virender Sehwag, bowl 13 overs. Neither of the spinners looked to be of any danger to either of the set players.

With still four days to go in the match India will know that they have to lift up their efforts early on day 2 if they hope to claw their way back in to the contest. Australia will be hoping for much of the same if they wish to inflict yet another overseas white wash on the Indians.

Ford named new cricket coach

South Africa Graham Ford was named today as the new coach of the Sri Lankan national cricket team.

He will replace Geoff Marsh who is among several officials to lose their spots as part of a major shakeup in Sri Lanka Cricket.

Ford recently announced he was quitting as head coach of the Dolphins, the South African, Durban-based franchise.

“While I feel a passion for Dolphins cricket, I respectfully ask for an immediate release from my Dolphins coaching position in order to follow my dreams of involvement at an international level,” Ford said.

Ford took over as coach of South Africa from Bob Woolmer in 1999 and held the position till 2001. He moved to Kent as director of cricket in 2004, and in 2006 he returned home to take charge of the Dolphins.

In June 2007, he was offered the challenge of coaching India but, to the embarrassment of the BCCI, declined. In 2009, he withdrew his name from the shortlist of candidates for the England coaching job.

Ford arrived in Sri Lanka yesterday to discuss the Sri Lankan offer.

MU legends to visit Sri Lanka

Two legends of top British football club Manchester United (MU) will visit Sri Lanka this week on a promotional tour for a leading mobile company.

Bryan Robson and Dwight York will be in Sri Lanka to announce a deal with Indian mobile company Bharti Airtel.

Airtel signed a 5-year sponsorship deal with Manchester United three years ago and the company is to make MU related Value Added Services (VAS) available in Sri Lanka.

This includes Manchester United Ring Tones, Ringing Tones and other branded merchandise which can be used as customer promotions.

The two football legends are already in Bangladesh as part of the Airtel promotional tour, the company said.

The legendary British club has a huge following in Asia and thousands of fans in Bangladesh with a special Manchester United Bangladesh Facebook page.

In August last year, there were media reports in the Singapore press that the club wanted to tap into its huge Asian fan base and raise up to $1 billion by listing 30 percent of its shares in Singapore.

York was a Trinidad and Tobago international player who was instrumental in the famous Manchester United treble win in the 1998-99 season. He also captained the T&T team in their 1st ever World Cup finals in 2006.

Dilshan resigns from team captaincy

Sri Lanka cricket captain T.M. Dilshan has sent a letter to the cricket board saying he is resigning as the team captain.

The Sri Lankan Cricket Board said it had received Dilshan’s resignation letter today.

His resignation however did not come as a surprise as just prior to the South African series Dilshan had indicated his intensions to step down after having a poor run as captain.

Under Dilshan’s captaincy Sri Lanka lost a Test and One Day International series in the United Arab Emirates against Pakistan and then went on to lose a Test and One Day International series against South Africa.

Dilshan’s personal form as a batsman also suffered over the past several months but he came good in the final match of the South African tour on Sunday and helped his side to chase down South Africa’s score of 312 runs.

Former Sri Lankan vice captain Mahela Jayawardena is expected to be appointed as the new captain of the team and will lead the side to Australia for a tri-series also involving India.

Sri Lankan cricket selectors should be sacked: ex-captain

By Easwaran Rutnam

 

COLOMBO, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) — Former Sri Lankan cricket captain turned politician Arjuna Ranatunga says the current national cricket selection panel should be sacked following Sri Lanka’ s poor performance in the United Arab Emirates and South Africa.

Ranatunga also accused the government of interfering with Sri Lankan cricket resulting in some senior players also making political comments instead of just focusing on the game.

Sri Lanka cricket has had a poor run over the past few months suffering a Test and One-Day International series loss in the United Arab Emirates against Pakistan and later losing the Test series in South Africa.

The most humiliating loss for Sri Lanka was recorded in the ongoing One-Day International series against South Africa.

Chasing 302 runs for victory in the second One-Day International against South Africa last week, the Sri Lankans were bowled out for just 43 runs, their lowest total in limited overs cricket.

Ranatunga told Xinhua in an interview on Monday that he suspected the current selection process for the national team was based on political interference and not the merit and performance of each player.

He also said that the national selectors made a huge blunder when they failed to pick in-form batsman Thilan Samaraweera for the Test series in South Africa.

“Samaraweera was not picked in the original squad but was later included as a replacement for an injured player. He then went on to score two centuries and was the most consistent batsman in the Test series against South Africa. The national selectors should admit that they made a blunder in the selection or they should either resign or be sacked,” Ranatunga said.

Ranataunga led the Sri Lankan cricket team to its only World Cup win in 1996 and he attributed the success to the fact that back then the players did not face pressure from politicians or the local cricket board.

“Our treasure was cricket and now it is in a mess because of political interference. It is really sad because past players really worked hard to bring Sri Lanka cricket to the top and that hard work is being messed up for money and the game in Sri Lanka is on the decline,” Ranatunga said.

Recently the Sri Lankan cricket board had its first election after several years and one time cricket board President Upali Dharmadasa was elected uncontested as the president of the board.

However Ranatunga is not happy with the election saying a few others who had initially come forward to contest for the presidency had later stepped down as the members who were eventually elected had political backing.

Among those elected to the current cricket board is Ranatunga’ s brother Nisthantha Ranatunga. He was appointed as the secretary to the board.

“I am glad that I am not in this government because if I was then people will blame even me for not doing enough to resurrect the game,” he said.

The Sri Lankan cricketers had not been paid their salaries for several months by the cricket board and only recently was part of it paid from money obtained from both the International Cricket Council and the government treasury.

“The current cricket board is in a mess. The Sri Lankan sports minister may say the board is not bankrupt but maybe he does not know the mathematics. There is a major issue in the cricket administration and this is sure to be affecting the players as well,” Ranatunga said.

Ranatunga accused former Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge saying he opened the doors for politicians to get involved in the game.

He said that another former Sports minister C.B. Ratnayake attempted to rectify things but was subsequently removed from his post and replaced by current minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage.

“It is good at times when ministers get involved in rural cricket to help cricket clubs and budding players to come up. But they should not get involved with a national team. They should also not comment on national cricketers. Today we see not just the sports minister but even other politicians making comments about the national players and such comments can affect the performance of those players,” Ranatunga said.

Ranatunga feels a television deal expected to be signed in April this year to promote Sri Lankan cricket will further add to the mess faced by Sri Lanka cricket.

He says a major overhaul of the Sri Lankan cricket board is required to get the team back on track and to prepare them for the next cricket world cup.

Cricket is one of most popular sports games in Sri Lanka which co-hosted the 2011 Cricket World Cup but was beaten by the India in the final.