Ganguly fears for Indian cricket amid #MeToo row

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ICC suspends Sri Lanka bowling coach over match-fixing

NEW DELHI, Oct 31, (AFP):  Former captain Sourav Ganguly expressed his “deep sense of fear” about the running of Indian cricket as he slammed the sloppy handling of #MeToo allegations against board chief executive Rahul Johri, among other key issues.

Johri was accused of sexual harassment on Oct 12 in an account shared by author Harnidh Kaur on Twitter, and the board’s administrative committee gave him a week to explain.

However, the Supreme Court-appointed committee is divided on the issue, with its two members arguing over the course of action against Johri.

Ganguly, who heads Bengal’s state cricket association, criticised the functioning of the national board, the richest and most powerful cricket body in the world.

“I write this mail to you all with the deep sense of fear as to where Indian cricket administration is going,” Ganguly wrote to BCCI secretary Amitabh Choudhary, president CK Khanna and treasurer Anirudh Chaudhary, in a letter seen by AFP.

“I don’t know how far it’s true, but the recent reports of harassment has really made the BCCI look very poorly … more so the way it has been handled,” he said.

Ganguly, 46, also criticised the board over last year’s appointment of national coach Ravi Shastri, after a selection process that sidelined his predecessor, Anil Kumble.

Ganguly, who was part of the advisory panel involved in the selection, along with Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman, had recommended Kumble’s extension after the spin legend was given the job in June 2016.

But Kumble decided to resign, citing his “untenable” relationship with skipper Virat Kohli.

“My experience in the matter of coach selection was appalling (the less said the better),” Ganguly said.

“Indian cricket with its massive following has been built over the years of hard work from superb administrators and greatest of cricketers who have managed to bring thousands of fans to the ground… I at the present moment think it’s in danger.”

The BCCI plunged into crisis in January 2017 when Supreme Court judges ordered the dismissal of president Anurag Thakur over the failure to enact a series of recommended reforms.

Cricket’s massive popularity in India has helped the BCCI become by far the wealthiest of all of the sport’s national boards, netting massive money from sponsorship and TV deals.

But it has also been embroiled in a series of scandals, including accusations of corruption and match-fixing that tarnished the Indian Premier League (IPL) – the board’s lucrative Twenty20 competition.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) on Wednesday suspended Sri Lanka’s bowling coach Nuwan Zoysa after accusing him of match-fixing and other “corrupt conduct” in the sport.

“Mr Zoysa has 14 days from 1 November 2018 to respond to the charges,” the ICC said in a brief statement.

Zoysa is charged, among other things, for “being party to an effort to fix or contrive or to otherwise influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or other aspect of an International match”, the statement said.

It gave no further details.

Forty-year-old Zoysa is the second Sri Lankan to be charged by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit (ACU).

Earlier this month, dashing former batsman, ex-chief selector and former captain Sanath Jayasuriya was charged for failing to cooperate with a match-fixing probe and concealing information.

Jayasuriya, 49, was reportedly asked to cooperate with an inquiry from ACU chief Alex Marshall who visited Sri Lanka last month.

The ACU is acting further on their previous investigation which in January 2016 saw Galle stadium curator Jayananda Warnaweera banned for three years after he failed to cooperate with the ACU.

ACU head Marshall last month said: “There is currently an ICC (ACU) investigation under way in Sri Lanka. Naturally as part of this we are talking to a number of people.”

It was not immediately clear if the charges against Zoysa and Jayasuriya relate to the same case or if they are being investigated separately.

Sri Lanka has recently sought help from neighbouring India to drafting laws to combat cheating in the game.

Colombo has also promised to establish a special police unit to investigate match-fixing after a documentary aired in May showed Galle groundsman Tharanga Indika and professional cricketer Tharindu Mendis allegedly talking about doctoring the pitch for the Test against England starting Nov 6.

Indika and Mendis have been suspended by Sri Lanka Cricket pending an ICC investigation. A third man, provincial coach Jeevantha Kulatunga, was also suspended.

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