COLOMBO: Cricket’s world body is investigating three former Sri Lankan players over alleged corruption, officials said on Wednesday, in the latest scandal to hit the sport in the country.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) did not name the targets of the probe by the International Cricket Council (ICC)’s Anti-Corruption Unit, but insisted no current national players were involved.
The board was responding to media reports on comments made by Sports Minister Dullas Alahapperuma on Tuesday.
The reports said Alahapperuma had hinted current players were being investigated by the ICC for match-fixing.
“What the honourable minister actually mentioned was about an investigation launched by the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit against three former Sri Lanka players and not the current national players,” the board said in a statement.
The ICC said it would not comment on any active investigation.
Sri Lanka introduced tough penalties for match-fixing and tightened sports betting restrictions in November in a bid to stamp out graft that has tainted the country’s cricket team.
Allegations of corruption included claims of match-fixing ahead of a 2018 Test against England.
Betting on sports events in Sri Lanka was already illegal, but the new rules ban Sri Lankans from gambling on overseas contests. They face up to 10 years in jail and fines of up to $555,000 for match-fixing.
The new law also bans people with family links to gambling businesses from sitting on cricket’s governing body.
The provision was in part to target the former SLC president, Thilanga Sumathipala, who was an executive committee member even though his family owns a gambling business.
Sumathipala, a businessman and politician, has repeatedly denied involvement in the gambling side of the family business.
A former sports minister, Harin Fernando, had said cricket in Sri Lanka was riddled with graft ‘from top to bottom’, and that the ICC considered Sri Lanka one of the world’s most corrupt nations.
Former Sri Lankan fast bowler Dilhara Lokuhettige was suspended in 2018 for corruption linked to a limited-over league. He was the third Sri Lankan charged under the ICC anti-corruption code, following action against former captain and ex-chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya, and former paceman Nuwan Zoysa.
Jayasuriya was found guilty of failing to cooperate with a match-fixing probe and was banned for two years. Zoysa was suspended for match-fixing.
Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2020