In the wake of the Sri Lanka pitch-fixing allegations that has come to light after a TV sting operation by the news channel Al Jazeera, former Sri Lanka skipper Arjuna Ranatunga on Wednesday said corruption "goes right to the top" in Sri Lanka after the documentary alleged that a Sri Lankan player and groundsman were involved in a pitch-tampering plot. Ranatunga further accused the International Cricket Council (ICC) of undermining the game by failing to tackle match-fixing. Ranatunga, who is now a government minister, said cricket corruption in Sri Lanka went far beyond the claims made in the documentary.
Ranatunga said the allegations must be investigated, "but this must have been happening for a long time".
"This is something that goes right to the top (in Sri Lanka). What they will catch is the small fish. As usual the bigger fish will get away," he said.
"I am so disappointed with the ICC anti-corruption unit," Ranatunga said, referring to previous complaints against Sri Lanka Cricket, which is headed by politician and businessman Thilanga Sumathipala.
Ranatunga, who led Sri Lanka's 1996 World Cup-winning team, has in the past accused Sumathipala of involvement in gambling in violation of ICC rules. However, Sumathipala has denied the charge.
"If they can't see what is happening in Sri Lanka... they should not sit on this anti-corruption unit," Ranatunga told reporters.
He said the Sri Lankans implicated in the Al Jazeera documentary could not change the outcome of a Test match unless they had backing from superiors.
"They are small fish," Ranatunga said referring to the groundsman of the Galle stadium, Tharanga Indika, and a district coach, Tharindu Mendis.
"They can't do it unless they have agreement with those right at the top."
Asked if the Galle groundsman was in a position to tamper with the pitch, Ranatunga said: "There is a top guy involved. He should be held responsible. He should be suspended, not only the person who got (directly) involved."
Ranatunga said the global audience for cricket was declining because of corruption allegations. He blamed the ICC.
"The ACU has been very poor. They have not used some of their powers and I think that is one reason why cricket has gone down very badly in the world in the last so many years.
"They (the ICC) need to take a big step and take a lot of hard decisions," Ranatunga added.
(With AFP inputs)