Aluthgamage’s nightmare ‘bokku’ | Daily News


 

Aluthgamage’s nightmare ‘bokku’

In our days of school cricket it was almost a disgrace to commit a “bokku”-- a crude colloquial for letting a ball go between one’s feet when fielding or to drop a catch or such other cricketing sin!

It’s become customary in politics too to be charged as such , as we do in this column in the case of a distinguished fielder by the name of Mahindananda Aluthgamage.

Here its not a sitter of a catch but a bombshell that has been dropped! Such was it’s impact on the scoreboard that it became the talk of not only the country, but the cricketing world as well.

It required, at the time of writing Minister of Sports Dullas Alahaperuma to step into the field and say that there is no proof of match-fixing. So it looks as though the said Aluthgamage has left a bokku.

It so happens that the Aluthgamage we refer to was playing the role of Minister of Sports during the 50-over 2011 World Cup. He has apparently woken from a nine year siesta and is alleging that the World Cup won by India in India was fixed and gifted to India.

Now the question that begs an answer is: Why did he have to wait for nine long years to suddenly make what looks like a damaging statement and which onus has fallen on him to substantiate. Some say that after a slumber of nine years he has woken up in a nightmare of a bad dream! It’s a cardinal sin to air such unfounded allegations without being conscious of the damage it does to the good name of Sri Lankan cricketers who had toiled over the years to build their good reputation of playing cricket fairly.

Aluthgamage says he complained to the International Cricket Council immediately after the match on queer and questionable happenings that led to Sri Lanka’s defeat, but received no response.

He says he had made his suspicions known locally, but with no one buying it, it lay dead and buried for nine years and suddenly exhumed nine years later and raised unnecessary a virus that is spreading like the Covid 19. The scores and the final outcome of that epic final need not be reiterated but one cannot but fail to mention the majestic knocks by former Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardena 103 not out and Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s match winning unbeaten 91.

Those two knocks were scintillating and masterpieces to remember. Finally Jayawardena’s century was in vain while the 91 made by Dhoni steered his side to victory on that balmy night at the Wankhede Stadium before a full house and is held in high esteem.

Generally when a final of such importance and magnitude is lost by the side that at one time looked like winning cricket officials and fans of the losing side, probably frustrated start making unfounded allegations and it was no different this time round.

Aluthgamage has not levelled any allegations against the players, but throws his barbs at the officials and the manner in which the final selections for the all- important final was done without his knowledge.

If that is true then the selectors need answer and Chairman of Selectors of that time Aravinda de Silva has done just that and batted for his three co-selectors Ranjit Fernando, Amal Silva and Shabir Asgerally.

The writer who has played the game at the highest level and with credibility to match would like to pose the question: How can an official or officials sell a game without the knowledge of the players who matter?

Now the ball is in Aluthgamage’s court and how he will put it over to the other side will be interesting to watch and all cricket fans here and in India especially will be watching with more than keen interest. However especially hurt will be India, because the glitz and glamour of their victory which they waited for 28 long years has been sullied and tarnished. The Indian Cricket Board is not going to sit and watch this comedy unfolding, but will certainly demand an explanation. India last laid their hands on the glittering World Cup in England in 1983 under the astute captaincy of all rounder Kapil Dev when they stalled the mighty West Indians led by Clive Lloyd from making it three in a row. It will be of interest to cricket fans to know that in a friendly game before the World Cup proper began Sri Lanka led by Duleep Mendis beat the Indians who finally went on to win the final and the treasured cup. The writer was there covering the tournament for the ‘Times’ and ‘Daily Mirror’.

The Interim Committee of SLC during that 2011 World Cup that was co-hosted was led by former leg spinning all rounder who also captained the country D. Somachandra de Silva who had his trustworthy nephews Suraj and Kapil Dandeniya as Tournament Director and in charge of Logistics. Having been close to them at that time I could vouch for their sincerity, honesty and integrity in conducting the Lankan part of that tournament to the best of their ability which came in for commendation by the International Cricket Council whose tournament was the World Cup.

‘DS’ with his efficient committee had a gigantic task to perform and that was to keep a deadline to complete three stadiums well in time because ICC officials would be visiting to check on the progress. If the stadiums were not to the satisfaction possibilities was that no matches would be conducted here.

With President Mahinda Rajapaksa keeping a close watch and providing support and thanks to the untiring efforts of ‘DS’ who was responsible the three stadiums – R. Premadasa, Sooriyawewa and Pallekelle stadiums were completed in record time which even surprised the ICC officials.

I can also vouch for the fact that ‘DS’ worked like a beaver. One day he was in Sooriyawewa, another day at the RPS and yet another day in Pallekelle seeing and checking that everything was tickety boo.

Of course ‘DS’ and his committee had their critics. Who doesn’t? But ‘DS’ hit them for six like when batting for the country and when it was all over did not ‘DS’ heave a huge sigh of relief. And these allegations coming nine years later must have been rib tickling to Dandeniyage Somachandra de Silva.

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