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Last updated: 29 April, 2012 - Published 13:22 GMT
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No Indian pressure to sack Arjuna - Lokuge

Arjuna Ranatunga (file photo)
Arjuna Ranatunga was appointed, and later sacked, as the SLC chairman by Minister Lokuge
The cricket authorities in India had no hand in the sacking of Arjuna Ranatunga from Sri Lanka’s cricket board, the country’s former sports minister has said.

The Island newspaper on Saturday said it had obtained documentary evidence which suggested Mr Ranatunga paid the price for being a strong critic of the lucrative Indian Premier League (IPL), organised by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI).

But the then minister of sports categorically denied any Indian involvement in his decisions.

"We dealt with many cricket boards all over the world but there was no pressure at all from the Indian board to sack him," Minister Gamini Lokuge, currently Sri Lanka’s labour minister, told BBC Sandeshaya.

England tour

As the then sports minister, Minister Lokuge appointed and later sacked the ruling party parliamentarian as the chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), in 2008.

 When Arjuna Ranatunga did not listen and players complained to me and the president, we had to order him to allow the players to take part in the IPL
Minister Gamini Lokuge

"There was no link whatsoever between the IPL and the sacking of Arjuna Ranatunga,” the minister added.

During his one-year tenure as the head of SLC, Mr Ranatunga, a strong critic of the shortest from of the game tried to persuade national cricket team to play a Test series in England, but the tour dates clashed with the 2009 edition of the IPL.

The Island newspaper claims that it was his hostility towards the IPL that ultimately led to the sacking of Sri Lanka’s World Cup winning captain from the SLC top post.

But Minister Lokuge said he requested Mr Ranatunga to prepare the time table for the tour of England so that it would not clash with the IPL “as we have already approved Sri Lanka players taking part in the IPL.”

“When Arjuna Ranatunga did not listen and players complained to me and the president, we had to order him to allow the players to take part in the IPL,” he told BBC Sinhala service.

“If the sacking was related to the IPL, I could have sack him at that moment but I did not do so,” the minister added.

He, however, admitted that sports ministry secretary held a meeting with IPL officials, together with the representatives of the players, in Bangkok in October 2009.

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