Lankan lions laid low
Star cricketer says four changes in a final was suspicious
There had been rumours surrounding the Sri Lanka team for some time. Hashan Tillakaratne, the former captain, said in April 2011 that match-fixing had been going on in the team since 1992. He was suspicious about the World Cup final against India in 2011. 'I am not saying that this match was fixed. But why were four players changed for this match? We who have played cricket talk about this. We were playing an entirely different side.'
There is also an obscure fact about the Sri Lanka team that took the field in Cardiff (first Test between England and Sri Lanka in May 2011) that will ensure scandalous tongues wag at his conspiracy theory... they had not been paid since the end of the World Cup in April. Not a single rupee in more than eight weeks.
It does not take a particularly cynical mind to come to the conclusion that a cricketer who has been treated with such little regard for his welfare and that of his family, might-just might-be tempted by the offer of payment to throw a Test match, particularly a Sri Lanka player who suffered the harrowing experience of being a target for terrorists in Pakistan in March 2009. Players are paid to play for their country, but it is often assumed they would do so only for the love of the national flag. When one has almost been killed in the line of doing his duty as an entertainer and then suffered the indignation of empty pay cheques, it is a stinging slap in the face...
Tillakaratne was attacked by his own board for daring to pipe up about fixing that took place during his days as a player and his fears over the current team. Zulqarnain Haider, the Pakistan wicketkeeper who (in 2010) said he was threatened with violence for not playing along with the fixers, had his intelligence and mental faculties questioned by players and the Pakistan Cricket Board, who for good measure fined him when he left a tour of Dubai (for a series against South Africa) because of fears over his safety. Tony Palladino, the Essex whistleblower (who reported team-mate Mervyn Westfield for spot-fixing in a county match against Durham in 2009), was made to feel an outsider. The BCCI refused to take seriously the claims of Mazhar Majeed, a convicted fixer, that he had access to India players. The New Zealand Cricket Board balked at The Sunday Times article (in March 2012) which questioned some of their players (quoting an Indian bookmaker who claimed he turned down a chance to sign up New Zealand players for match-fixing).