Match Fixing Embroils SLC
by Nirmala Kannangara
- Some officials at Sri Lanka Cricket have been accused of aiding and abetting match fixing in domestic cricket
- Some SLC officials want to bring their clubs on top of the list, domestic cricket is slowly getting plagued with match fixing
- Independent committee has been appointed to investigate whether there was match fixing
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) which is already in turmoil over the past several months has now been exposed to another controversy involving match fixing in the Premium ‘B’ tournament.
The venues of the matches have been changed less than 15 hours before the games started and the field settings have been intentionally placed in a manner so as to enable the batting side to score more runs freely to win the matches.
Some officials at Sri Lanka Cricket have been accused of aiding and abetting match fixing in domestic cricket and their attempt to sweep the investigation under carpet will have a detrimental effect on the country.
Sri Lanka Cricket sources speaking to The Sunday Leader on the condition of anonymity said that unless President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe intervene and appoint an interim committee to look into the affairs that have now cropped up, SLC will have to face serious consequences at the hands of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
The Premium ‘B’ match played between Kalutara Physical Culture Club and Panadura Sports Cub from January 23 to 25 is alleged to have been fixed in order bring Panadura Sports Club which comes under one of the SLC Executive Committee members to win the championship and to get a promotion to ‘Tier A’.
“Even Kalutara Physical Culture Club comes under one of the SLC office bearers but since they are in the bottom of the list they allowed Panadura to obtain more points and become the Champions. Because of these SLC officials who want to bring their clubs on top of the list, domestic cricket is slowly getting plagued with match fixing.
As these two accused clubs are headed by two officials closer to the higher officials at the Cricket Board we do not expect the inquiring committee to hold an impartial inquiry and bring the culprits to book which will result their future cricketing career bleak,” highly reliable SLC sources said.
Meanwhile, the sources who wished to remain anonymous said as to how one of the higher officials at the Cricket Board disregarding the Head of Domestic Cricket’s decision to appoint an impartial three member inquiring committee comprising a senior Rtd. DIG, had appointed three of his stooges to hold an ‘impartial’ inquiry.
“In such a back ground, will the ICC remain silent? In the event they impose certain rules and regulations it is not good for the game of cricket. Hence we request the President and Prime Minister to act fast and take action against those who are aiding and abetting to these illegal affairs,” sources claimed.
Match fixing predicted
According to the sources, match fixing in Sri Lanka was predicted some time ago when there were match fixing charges against one of the higher officials. “When higher officials are accused of match fixing why the other officials cannot get involved in the same scandal. That is why allegations have been leveled against the Cricket Board for their attempt to safeguard those who were involved in this cheating,” sources claimed.
Although Tournament Committee Chairman Bandula Dissanayake claimed that the decision to change the venue was taken five days before the tournament was started, questions have been raised whether these details have been minuted. “Since there were rains the decision was taken at the last moment to change the venue as the Surrey Village grounds have covers and the wickets belonged to the cricket board. As they were planning to give the match victory to Panadura, in the event rain falls, and had to call off the match abruptly they got the venue changed to make Panadura victorious,” sources alleged.
According to the sources, the rain-hit final day both Panadura and Kalutara sides had lost 24 wickets and had recorded a run rate of over 10 runs per over. “In 20 minutes, 13 overs have been bowled according to the Match Referee’s report. Sri Lanka Ports Authority Cricket Club (SLPA) which was eyeing for the championship and to enter ‘Tier A’ but failed due to the alleged match fixing, has claimed that they have photographic proof of the uncharacteristic field settings that allowed Panadura to chase the target of 165 within a mere 13.4 overs at a run-rate of 12.21 per over. If the charges are proved, these clubs have to face severe consequences,” sources added.
However, Vice President Sri Lanka Cricket K. Mathivanan who is also the Head of Domestic Cricket when contacted said that an independent committee has been appointed to investigate whether there was a match fixing and added that he is confident that an impartial inquiry will be held to unearth the truth of the allegations leveled.
When asked why his choice of officials were not appointed to the independent committee but those who are ‘near and dear’ to certain higher SLC officials were appointed, Mathivanan said that it is the Executive Committee’s final decision that is generally implemented. “Any one of us can recommend any name but finally the Executive Committee decided to appoint Chairman Disciplinary Committee SLC, Asela Rekawa, former DIG and one time national cricketer Jayantha Paranathala and Manager Security and Investigation SLC, Sarathchandra Liyanage to hold an impartial inquiry,” Mathivanan said.
No money involved
The reason why SLC’s Anti-Corruption Officer was not appointed to the inquiring committee according to Mathivanan was as there were no monetary gains in the match fixing fiasco. “We know for certain that money was not involved in this alleged match fixing and that was why the Anti-Corruption Officer SLC was not included to the committee. If there was money involvement certainly the Executive Committee would have included this officer to the inquiring committee as well,” Mathivanan said.
When asked how confident he is that this three member committee will not sweep the matter under carpet as two office bearers are involved with the two accused clubs, Mathivanan said that SLC is confident that unbiased investigation will take place to put a complete stop to these illegal affairs.
Tournament Committee Chairman Bandula Dissanayake while refuting allegations said that the decision to change the venue was taken one week before the tournament started.
“There are five members in the Tournament Committee and we all met and decided to change the venue from Panadura Esplanade to the Surrey Village in Maggona,” Dissanayake claimed.
When told that the Match Referee in his report had stated that he was informed about the change only at 9pm on January 22- the day before the tournament started and that the Umpires too have confirmed that they too were informed the day before at 9pm, Dissanayake said that it could have happened due to miscommunication. “There are two committees involved- one is the tournament committee who is responsible on the ground and pitch preparation and the other is the umpires committee where the umpires and match referees are involved in their work. Although the Tournament committee decided to change the venue, it may have not communicated to the match referees and umpires,” Dissanayake added.
Dissanayake also said that it is the Tournament Committee that has the power to hold any inquiry and added that after conducting the primary inquiry, they decided to allow an independent committee to continue with the invrestigation. “We did not want anyone to say that the Tournament Committee was biased in the inquiry and hence handed over our duty to the independent commission,” he added.
When asked what the delay is in concluding the investigation whether there is an attempt that the SLC higher officials are planning to sweep the matter under carpet since two office bearers are representing theses two clubs, Dissanayake said that he is quite confidence that it would not happen.
When asked whether Sri Lanka Cricket is now under scrutiny by the International Cricket Council (ICC) following the match fixing saga, Dissanayake said that to his knowledge there is no scrutiny by the ICC and they did not receive any communication from the ICC.