Ravin Wickremaratne, former Assistant Secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket who was implicated in a match fixing scandal has been appointed as President Maithripala Sirisena’s Special Coordinator for the Sri Lanka Rupavahini Cooperation (SLRC), the state-owned TV station.
Wickramaratne, the former Panadura SC Chairman and a close friend of former SLC Chairman Thilanga Sumathipala, was implicated in the scandal when Panadura SC Captain Chamara Silva submitted an affidavit revealing a plot to fix the Inter-Club Tier ‘B’ Premier League match between Panadura and Kalutara Physical Culture Club, in January, 2017.
Silva, a former Sri Lankan cricketer, said the match fixing plan was put forward to him by club officials at tea on the second day, and added he flatly rejected the offer.
Silva then claimed he informed the discussion to fix the game to club stalwart and SLC Assistant Secretary Ravin Wickramaratne.
Silva’s affidavit said Wickramaratne allegedly encouraged Chamara Silva to go ahead with match-fixing, promising him to take the full responsibility if a problem arose.
According to an Island newspaper report, Silva refrained from attending the corrupt third day’s play. The game ended with Panadura recording a three-wicket win having chased down a target of 165 in 13.4 overs scoring over 12 runs an over under bizarre circumstances. More importantly, the win enabled Panadura to gain promotion to Tier ‘A’ of First-Class cricket. Kalutara too benefited by agreeing to fix the game. Placed bottom of Tier ‘B’, they were running the risk of getting relegated to Sara Trophy. But having scored 225 runs in 22.5 overs at a run rate of over eight runs per over in their second innings, they had avoided relegation.
The Island newspaper also said, “An inquiry initiated by Sri Lanka Cricket handed all players one year bans while the captains received two-year bans. The players appealed to Ministry of Sports and at the independent inquiry, some startling revelations came up.
In his affidavit, Silva reveals that when he and Panadura players arrived in a team bus to provide evidence at the SLC inquiry, Wickramaratne had boarded the bus and informed them that they were not required to provide evidence. He had also assured the players that no harm would come their way.”
In a shocking turn of events, SLC imposed a two-year ban on the captains of the two teams, including Silva who complained about the match fixing attempt, without any taking action on officials.
The players, however, appealed against the decision, and the appeal was heard by Palitha Kumarasinghe PC on former Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera’s request. Kumarasinghe absolved the players and presented the nine recommendations that included lifting the ban on players and taking disciplinary actions against officials.
The Sports Ministry then forwarded these recommendations to SLC, headed by Sumathipala, for implementation. Sumathipala, as expected, did not take any action.
After dragging its feet over the matter for so long, SLC again appointed a retired judge of the Supreme Court, Justice Rohini Marasinghe to conduct an “independent inquiry” into the allegations of match fixing.
It is the same Ravin Wickremaratne, who was at the centre of this match fixing scandal, has now been appointed as Sirisena’s Coordinator for SLRC.
A senior SLRC official told Colombo Telegraph that Wickremaratne’s job is to ensure coverage for development activities initiated by the President on the national television.
It is learnt that Wickremaratne has strengthened his links with President Sirisena, through their mutual friend Thilanga Sumathipala.