London, Jul 5: Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara has slammed his country's cricket authorities for being populated by "partisan cronies."
In an hour-long speech for the Marylebone Cricket Club's annual Spirit of Cricket lecture, the 33-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman urged Sri Lanka Cricket to stamp out corruption and infighting within the sport.
Sangakkara said that Sri Lanka's shock 1996 World Cup win led to a change in direction at the top of the sport in the country, bringing a loss of direction, transparency and accountability.
"After 1996, the cricket board has been controlled and administered by a handful of well-meaning individuals either personally or by proxy rotated in and out depending on appointment or election," Sangakkara said at Lord's on Monday night. "Unfortunately, to consolidate and perpetuate their power they opened the door of the administration to partisan cronies that would lead to corruption and wanton waste of cricket board finances and resources."
Sri Lanka's sports minister last week said the entire national cricket board committee would have to step down after the country was left with a $69 million shortfall for hosting this year's World Cup.
A divided board has been accused by commentators of severe financial mismanagement.
"It was and still is confusing," Sangakkara said. "Accusations of vote buying and rigging, player interference due to lobbying from each side and even violence at the AGMs, including the brandishing of weapons and ugly fist fights, have characterized cricket board elections for as long as I can remember."
Sangakkara also seemed to allude to the recall of Sanath Jayasuriya for the limited-overs matches of Sri Lanka's current tour of England. The 41-year-old batting great, who is now a politician with Sri Lanka's ruling party and had not played for two years, then announced his retirement after the opening one-day international at The Oval.
"Players from within the team itself became involved in power games within the board," Sangakkara said. "Officials elected to power in this way in turn manipulated player loyalty to achieve their own ends. At times, board politics would spill over into the team causing rift, ill feeling and distrust.
"We have to aspire to better administration. The administration needs to adopt the same values enshrined by the team over the years: integrity, transparency, commitment and discipline." AP