Cricket, corruption, and convolution. You’ve heard of the noted Ps of Marketing. But what about the great Cs of the game we so love? Nothing can refute the claim that the 2011 World Cup final was an awe-inspiring moment for India, maybe not so much for Sri Lanka, the vanquished.
In all, the better team one. The one that kept its cool. Dhoni lifted the six to send the country in a tizzy and that wasn’t possible without Gambhir’s valiant knock. Don’t forget Jayawardene’s fighting century in the high-octane final.
In the end, Sachin being paraded proudly on winning shoulders of the victorious men in blue and the world harboring an emotional tear-jerker.
All seems legit. Right?
Because nearly a decade later, for some reason unknown to us cricket-obsessed fans, there appears a loud and clear red herring: the Cricket World Cup final 2011 was fixed.
Who saw that coming? Not greats of the game like Sachin and Kohli. Not Sangakkara, who’s now been grilled for nearly 10 hours, to say the least.
Yet, what we must understand is that there appear to be a few underlining questions that have gone unnoticed, such as-
Why didn’t those who claim to know that there was something wrong since the beginning lodge a complaint with the ICC back then?
Why did the Sri Lankan authorities, who have now sent eminent names like Kumar Sangakkara- the captain back then- raise an alarm?
Why wasn’t the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit has been informed back then, instead of pushing it to probe the ‘alleged’ wrongdoing now, nearly a decade later?
What is the parameter to assess the seriousness of Sri Lanka’s former Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage claims?
But what’s happening right now sounds random.
As logic dictates, you pop in medicine when it’s hurting. Would you swallow a pill ten years later for a pain you experienced a decade before?
Now, here is what the former Sports Minister has to say:
“Sri Lanka sold the title to India.”
Furthermore, here’s what you need to know in connection with the now controversial ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 final.
In a recent interview with the local TV channel ‘Sirasa’, Aluthgamage said that the final was fixed. Having set a target of 275, India won at the back of Gautam Gambhir’s 97 and the-then captain MS Dhoni‘s 91.
“Today I am telling you that we sold the 2011 world cup, I said this when I was the sports minister,” Aluthgamage, who was the sports minister at the time, said.
He further added, “As a country, I do not want to announce this. I can’t exactly remember if it was 2011 or 2012. But we were to win that game. I am telling you with the responsibility I felt that the match was fixed. I can debate this, I know people were concerned about this.”
Make no mistake. The 2011 World Cup final was special for every cricket fan. Kumar Sangakkara won the toss and elected to bat first. Mahela Jayawardena scored a brilliant century and gave India a target of 275. However, India achieved the target with six wickets in hand and to win the trophy for the second time after 1983.
However, his statément was ridiculed by Jayawardene, who asked for evidence as well. But, Aluthgamage said that no players were involved in fixing but some parties were involved. On the other hand, former World Cup-winning captain Arjuna Ranatunga had also called for a probe on alleged match-fixing in the final.
However, Sri Lanka police questioned former captain Aravinda de Silva on Tuesday over the matter. Notably, he was the chairman of selectors for Sri Lanka during the 2011 World Cup final and he was questioned by the police for over six hours as per the report.
The incident didn’t end there as Sri Lanka cricketer Upul Tharanga on Wednesday was questioned by the police. He had scored 2 off 20 deliveries before getting dismissed by Zaheer Khan in the iconic World Cup final in 2011.
Following such allegations, Kumar Sangakkara, who was the captain of the team at that time, had asked for proof as well. “Then no one needs to speculate and can get to the bottom of this. That should be the most prudent course of action,” Sangakkara had said.
However, it turned out to be the worst as the Youth Alliance of the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) started protesting in front of the sports ministry. According to the reports, the protest was held against the harassment of Sangakkara in the questioning.
Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan Police on Friday ended the investigation, citing that they couldn’t find any evidence after recording statements of the stalwarts like Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene.
While the claim was there against the sudden team change, police couldn’t find any baseless answer of it. Moreover, Aluthgamage also said that no players were involved.
Amid this situation, the question remains if there was no player involved in this then how could a match be fixed?
With much surprise, the claim comes after 9 long years of the match. Isn’t it too late to question or doubt something of gigantic importance?
It’s a Cricket World Cup final for christ’s sake. Not some backyard tennis ball tournament, right?
Yet, we mustn’t forget Corruption in cricket has become a recurring theme of the sport we can’t imagine our lives without.
Now, the taint surrounds Sri Lanka, as claimed. What can it do to absolve itself right out of the tarnish, if at all, no wrongdoing ever occurred?
But match-fixing and inglorious elements of the game shall continue to flourish if no timely action is ever taken.
What if it was in the past for today, the moment you hear the names Mohd. Azharuddin, Chris Cairns, Hansie Cronje, you can’t help but smell a rat, regardless of their great cricketing achievements.
But in the end, who’s to be blamed for non-action in lines with probing the 2011 Cricket World Cup final?
For now, the statement of Alex Marshall, the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit beckons a think:
“We have no reason to doubt the integrity of the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Final 2011.”