Money has been Lanka~~s killer: Dias

Published: Thursday, April 5, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
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Colombo: Ask any Sri Lankan to name the greatest moment in the country's sporting history and the reply will always be the victory in cricket's 1996 World Cup. Increasingly, however, many Sri Lankans have also begun to see the World Cup triumph as the worst thing that could have happened to the country's cricket administration.

By catapulting Sri Lanka from no-hopers to near top dogs, the victory has over the years poured a mini fortune into the Cricket Board's coffers. ''The World Cup brought money and money was the killer,'' Roy Dias, a former Test vice-captain and coach, said as the latest episode in the Cricket Board's saga of scandal and strife unfolded. He said the latest crisis had money written all over it. It started on March 26, when Board president Thilanga Sumathipala sacked his long-suspended CEO Dhammika Ranatunga on charges of ''a financial nature'', a day after Ranatunga's brother Prassanna said he would not seek re-election as vice president because of corruption at the Board. The Ranatungas, brothers of World Cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga and sons of a cabinet minister, are members of the country's most powerful cricketing family whose long alliance with Sumathipala has gone bitterly cold in recent weeks. Two days later Sumathipala was also gone as the country's sports minister set up an interim committee and dissolved the Cricket Board after a court blocked its plans for a March 31 election, saying it had not furnished proper accounts in time. The week ended with street protests both for and against the move. Controversies also surfaced over financing for the country's newest stadium in the north central town of Dambulla and Sports Minister Lakshman Kiriella's decision to stop payment on a series of last-minute cheques issued by the sacked administration. (c) Reuters Limited. Click here for Restrictions

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