I had the opportunity to sit down today for dinner with a friend who is pretty close to Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara.
Being an avid cricket fan and also having played a bit of school cricket myself, the conversation revolved mostly around cricket and all the damning allegations made in the local and foreign press.
How could so many newspapers and websites get it wrong, I asked him?
Then, we tried to dissect it all and analyse the allegations individually. In the process, my friend suggested that this would make one heck of a good blog piece so here I am.
The first allegation that surfaced was of an incident in Zimbabwe and the second was of Dilshan’s involvement with a bookie in England.
The matter concerning Dilhara Fernando was put to rest when SLC confirmed that Dilhara voluntarily informed the ICC about a bookie making contact with him.
I was convinced that all these allegations were totally false until I heard what my friend had to say.
"So you don’t think any of it is true," he asked me.
"No. I don’t believe any of it. Why do cricketers – who make so much – need to resort to such things," I asked.
"There is way too much at stake to make $150,000 from one game? If they get caught, its all over."
"Not worth the risk."
"What if I told you that Sanga is pretty pissed off," my friend asked.
"I’m pretty sure he is. I am pissed off too. Sri Lankans are all angered by this."
"Well he is not pissed off at the same people you are pissed off with," my friend responded, and he began to unravel another side of the story that shook me.
He claims that Kumar Sangakkara is at his wits’ end because of the cricket board’s handling of the matter. He says that a player was indeed seen with an individual who could be a bookie, but there is no proof that the player did anything wrong, or if the man the player was seen with is even a bookie for certain. But the matter was indeed reported to the ICC as required by ICC protocols.
Now, like a puppet, Sangakkara has to apparently make statements to the press to undo what the cricket board could have easily fixed. He is being forced to go on a PR campaign when the cricket board can just come out and be honest with the whole matter, according to this source.
He also claims that after having to deal with politicians meddling with the selection process for so long, Sangakkara is fed up with having to deal with the incompetence of the board now. The cricket board, my source says, knows that the ICC anti-corruption unit cannot and will not make any public statements to confirm who they are investigating. So, for now the board want to keep it under wraps.
I was reminded that even after Nishantha Ranatunga confirmed to the local media that Sri Lanka police were investigating the matter, Sangakkara’s name was included in a written statement to Times of India denying everything!
So I hear that Sangakkara is sick of being treated as a puppet to cover up for other’s incompetence. I wonder how far they will push this great player and if he will step down after the World Cup 2011. That will be a very sad day for all of us.