I can~~t work with corrupt people: Ranatunga

Published: Thursday, May 22, 2003, 1:04 [IST]
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Colombo: Sri Lanka's former World Cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga on Wednesday refused to accept defeat as his bid for the top job in the country's cricket administration looked doomed to failure. Claiming that he lacked cash to fund an election campaign, Ranatunga launched a scathing attack on his opponent, Colombo businessman Thilanga Sumathipala, who is almost certain to become the head of the Cricket board. Ranatunga rejected an offer by Sumathipala to work together for the improvement of cricket in the island saying that he did not want to work with people who were tainted with allegations of corruption. "I am an honest person and I can't work with people who are corrupt," Ranatunga said. More than two thirds of cricket associations and clubs which are entitled to vote on June 6 have sponsored Sumathipala, making his election a formality. "My advise to Arjuna is to pull out of the contest because the vast majority of members of the BCCSL have already rejected him," Sumathipala said last week. "I am offering him a position to give his expertise to the game." Sumathipala said Ranatunga should avoid the humiliation of a crushing defeat and join him like his World Cup-winning vice- captain Aravinda de Silva who was uncontested as one of the two vice-presidents of the Board. Ranatunga was defiant and said he had entered the fray to expose corruption in the system. His own home club dumped him and decided this month to vote for Sumathipala at the elections. Ranatunga is now an opposition member of parliament after entering politics to take after his father, who is also Member of Parliament and a former minister. Ranatunga, who captained Sri Lanka to the World Cup title in 1996, entered politics soon after retiring from cricket in 1999. Sumathipala said he was expecting to introduce a new level of "transparency" in a bid to restore public confidence in the Board, one of the richest sporting bodies in the country. The BCCSL had been plagued by allegations of financial scandals. Sumathipala said he also wanted to get down an international coach for the Sri Lanka team which he was performing below par, but Ranatunga said that he favoured older local players for the job. Sri Lanka coach Dav Whatmore was sacked last month after Sri Lanka's dismal performance in recent times. However, the BCCSL had been unable to find a replacement. Copyright AFP 2001

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