Cricket match-fixers suspended amid calls for police probe


Cricket match-fixers suspended amid calls for police probe

Sri Lankan groundsman who admitted to doctoring pitch and accused players suspended as ICC pledges investigation.

29 May 2018

Sri Lankan groundsman who admitted to doctoring pitch and accused players suspended as ICC pledges investigation.

Sri Lankan groundsman Tharanga Indika, right, was reportedly paid around $40,000 for doctoring the pitch to ensure certain outcomes [Al Jazeera]

Sri Lanka’s sports minister has urged the country’s cricket board to hand over the inquiry into Al Jazeera’s pitch-fixing allegations to law enforcement authorities. 

The move follows theSri Lankaboard’s decision to suspend players and an assistant manager exposed in Al Jazeera’s investigation broadcast on Sunday.

The board reported the two men to the Criminal Investigations Department and sports minister Faiszer Musthapha said the inquiry must be taken over by law enforcement.

Musthapha said he was “saddened and dismayed” by the Al Jazeera documentary, Cricket’s Match-Fixers and pledged to “rid cricket and all other sports of corruption”. 

Sri Lanka’s cricket board has suspended a player and an official exposed in Al Jazeera’s investigation into match-fixing. 

The board has reported the two men to the Criminal Investigations Department, as the fallout from the documentary Cricket’s Match-Fixers continues.

The two men suspended are Tharanga Indika, a curator and assistant manager at Galle International Stadium, and Tharindu Mendis, a professional cricketer.

Both were secretly filmed by an undercover reporter from Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit. They said they had fixed two Test matches and were planning to fix a third later this year.

Sri Lankan player Jeevantha Kulatunga was also suspended, local media reported on Wednesday.

The International Cricket Council (ICC), world cricket’s governing body, has launched an investigation into all the allegations of match-fixing in the Al Jazeera documentary.

The ICC says it is taking the allegations “very seriously”.

Alex Marshall, the head of the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, said it is working with investigators “from all member countries identified in the programme”.

Cricket’s Match-Fixers was released on Sunday and continues to make headline news across the world.

England, Australia players accused

The documentary includes allegations that three England players carried out spot-fixes during a Test match in India in December 2016.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said it had spoken to the England players, who “emphatically deny the allegations”.

England Test captain Joe Root and coach Trevor Bayliss said the allegations were “outrageous”, although both said they had not seen the documentary.

Bayliss told the BBC: “We’ll just leave that up to the ECB to deal with.”

The ECB and Cricket Australia said they would cooperate fully with the ICC investigation.

Cricket Australia’s chief executive James Sutherland says he is unaware of any evidence that his players are involved in match-fixing [Getty Images]

The documentary also includes allegations that two unnamed Australian players were involved in spot-fixing.

Cricket Australia’s chief executive, James Sutherland, said he was not aware of any “credible evidence” linking Australian players to corruption.

Australia’s captain Tim Paine added: “At this stage, it’s unsubstantiated claims. We’re confident that none of our guys are involved in it.” 

Investigations launched

Al Jazeera highlighted allegations of match-fixing in four Test matches – the highest level of the international game.

Shock and concern: Reactions to Al Jazeera’s Cricket’s Match-Fixers

Alex Marshall, head of ICC’s anti-corruption unit:“The ICC has now had the opportunity to view the documentary into corruption in cricket and, as we have previously stated, we are taking the contents of the programme and the allegations it has made extremely seriously.”Joe Root, England cricket captain: “It’s outrageous that England players have been accused of this.”Faiszer Musthapa, Sri Lanka’s minister for sport: “I have watched the telecast of Al Jazeera’s documentary and written to Sri Lanka Cricket to inform the Criminal Investigation Department and take immediate action. I give assurance to the fans and cricket loving public that we will rid cricket, and all other sports, of corruption.”Tim Paine, Australia cricket captain: “At this stage, it’s unsubstantiated claims. We’re confident that none of our guys are involved in it … As far as I’m concerned, our players have got nothing to worry about. I’m really confident none of our players are involved.”

Two of them, at Chennai and Ranchi, concerned allegations of spot-fixing in games in India involving England and Australia.

The other two centred on evidence that the pitch at Galle had been doctored to control the results.

The documentary also revealed that criminals were planning to fix another Test match at Galle, later this year.

The Sri Lanka allegations have raised questions about future Test matches there. 

England are due in Sri Lanka from October 10 to November 27. The two sides are scheduled to play a Test match at Galle on November 6-10.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said it would follow ICC guidelines on anti-corruption operations for forthcoming tours.

The Pakistan Cricket Board said it was investigating “the alleged involvement in corrupt conduct” of one of its players.

Hasan Raza, the former Pakistan star, is shown in the documentary agreeing to take part in a corrupt cricket tournament set up purely for match-fixing.

Raza has declined to respond to a request for comment from Al Jazeera but has since denied any connection with match-fixing.

The documentary has received extensive media coverage all over the world, including in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa.