ICC to grill Ranatunga, de Silva

Published: Sunday, April 29, 2001, 22:43 [IST]
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Colombo: The International Cricket Council (ICC) is to question Sri Lanka's former skipper Arjuna Ranatunga and his deputy Aravinda de Silva this week over allegations they took bribes to throw matches.

ICC's anti-corruption chief Sir Paul Condon arrived here Saturday with his chief investigator Jeffrey Rees and three others to probe charges against the two top former Sri Lankan players, cricket officials said.

They said Ranatunga and de Silva will be questioned separately on Tuesday and Wednesday by the ICC's anti-corruption investigators whose visit to Sri Lanka was delayed by over two months due to the England tour.

Sir Paul was due to meet with the head of Sri Lanka's interim cricket board, Vijaya Malalasekara, on Sunday. A spokesman for the interim board said another ICC official, Bob Smalley, arrived on Wednesday to prepare for Sir Paul's visit.

"Mr Smalley has been here before and is aware of the situation. He has done the spade work for Sir Paul's visit," a Sri Lankan cricket board official said. Sports Minister Lakshman Kiriella has vowed to cooperate with the ICC to probe allegations of match-fixing against Ranatunga and De Silva.

"We are supporting a full and comprehensive investigation and will cooperate fully with the ICC," Kiriella told parliament earlier this month. Ranatunga and De Silva have already made written observations regarding the allegations, first made by an Indian bookmaker, M K Gupta.

Gupta had told India's Central Bureau of Investigation that he paid $ 15,000 for the Sri Lankan duo to engineer a Sri Lankan defeat in the 1994 Test against India at Lucknow.

Ranatunga, who led Sri Lanka to its one and only World Cup victory in 1996, has categorically denied accepting bribes, while De Silva said he was approached by bookmakers, but did not accept any payment.

Ranatunga has retired but De Silva is still a member of the Test team. Cricket sources said the ICC had been less than happy with the pace of investigations undertaken by the Sri Lankan Board of Control for Cricket (BCCSL), which was sacked and replaced by an interim panel in March.

The ICC probe team was initially expected in February, but sources said that their arrival was delayed due to Sri Lanka's Test and One-day series with England.

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