Pitch Doctoring at Galle? Al-Jazeera Allegations –Three Reports

ONE: from ESPNcricinfo staff, 26 May 2019 … with highlighting emphasis added by The Editor, Cricketique

Sri Lanka Cricket will cooperate fully with the ICC in its investigations into allegations of pitch-fixing in two Test matches in the past, and potentially one later this year against England.

The board’s response came after TV news channel Al Jazeera claimed that a person involved in preparing the pitches in Galle for the Tests against India in 2017 and Australia in 2016 had tailored the surfaces according to instructions from a person involved in betting. The report also alleged that the Galle pitch for the Test against England later this year would also be made to order for betting.

“Mr Ashley de Silva, CEO of Sri Lanka Cricket is in contact with the CEO of the International Cricket Council Mr. David Richardson and the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit on the matter,” SLC said. “Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to state that it has zero tolerance towards corruption and will take immediate action against any person involved in the alleged incident, if found guilty.

“In the meantime, Sri Lanka Cricket is constantly engaged with the ICC and is following its guidelines on how to handle anti-corruption operations for the forthcoming tours in Sri Lanka.”

The ICC confirmed it was investigating the report. “The ICC is aware of an investigation into corruption in cricket by a news organisation and as you would expect we will take the contents of the programme and any allegations it may make very seriously,” Alex Marshall, ICC general manager Anti-Corruption Unit, said in a statement. “We have already launched an investigation working with anti-corruption colleagues from Member countries based on the limited information we have received. We have made repeated requests that all evidence and supporting materials relating to corruption in cricket is released immediately to enable us to undertake a full and comprehensive investigation.”

According to another head curator in Sri Lanka, however, the individual mentioned in the Al Jazeera report is not a curator, but someone in charge of the temporary staff working at the Galle stadium and was not in charge of either of the two Test pitches specified in the report.

The Al Jazeera report claimed that the individual – under instructions from the bettors – had made a batting-friendly surface for the India Test and a spin-friendly one for the Australia Test, but ESPNcricinfo can confirm the Sri Lanka team had in fact requested the actual curator for such surfaces. Additionally, Galle surfaces have often tended to be very spin-friendly, and are routinely result-oriented pitches, the last draw there having come in 2013

Pics by Michael Roberts–July 2016

TWO:  David Harrison of Al-Jazeera in London writes : “Cricket match-fixers caught in the act in Sri Lanka

 Jazeera’s Investigative Unit has revealed how criminals fixed two Test matches – the highest level of international cricket – and were planning to fix a third. The two fixed matches were Sri Lanka versus India in July last year and Sri Lanka versus Australia in August 2016. Both matches were played at Galle International Stadium in Sri Lanka.

In secretly filmed meetings, the match-fixers also said that they were planning to fix England’s game against Sri Lanka, also at Galle, in November this year.

The world cricket’s governing body, the International Cricket Council (ICC), has launched an investigation into Al Jazeera’s findings. Robin Morris, a match-fixer from Mumbai, told undercover reporters that he bribed the groundsman at Galle to doctor the pitch to ensure guaranteed outcomes. The match-fixers then made large sums of money from betting.

‘We can make pitch do whatever we want’

In Al Jazeera’s documentary, Cricket’s Match-Fixers, the groundsman, Tharanga Indika, assistant manager at the Galle stadium, says he can make pitches to favour either bowlers or batsmen. “If you want a pitch for spin bowling or pace bowling or batting, it can be done.”

Cricket’s Match-Fixers will be available to watch online on Sunday at 10:00 GMT.

At a meeting in a hotel in Galle, Morris gestures towards Indika, and says: “What happens is he, we, can make a pitch to do whatever we want it do to.” “Because he’s the main curator. He is the assistant manager and curator of the Galle stadium.”

For the Australia match, Indika says he made a pitch for bowlers. “In that five-day match, we prepared the wicket poorly without using a roller. In that way, we made a spinning wicket.”

The “bowling pitch” ensured that the game would not last for the full five days and so the game would not end in a draw.

Batsmen were out quickly and the match was over in less than two and a half days. A Test match can last for up to five days. Knowing that batsmen would struggle, the match-fixers made money by betting that the game would not end in a draw. A Test match can end in a draw only if no side has won when the teams have played for the full five days.

‘You can bet good money – big time’

Concerns were raised about the condition of the pitch at the time but the International Cricket Council, which had an inspector at the match, took no action. Indika told our undercover team that for the India match at Galle he made a pitch for batsmen. “India was set for a batting wicket.” “We pressed the wicket thoroughly with a roller and then, we put water on it to make it even harder,” he says in the documentary.

The batting pitch ensured a high score in the first innings so the criminals could bet on a first innings total higher than the bookmakers’ prediction. In the event, India scored a massive 600 runs in their first innings and the match-fixers made a large profit.

Morris, a former professional cricketer, offers an undercover reporter a deal for future fixes. “I have the information. I will give it to you. And you can bet good money, big time.”

The match-fixer says he wants no money up front but wants 30 percent of the reporter’s winnings.

At the meeting in Galle, the reporter asks the match-fixer when the next pitch-fix will be carried out at the stadium.  Morris replies: “England v Sri Lanka.” England are due to play Sri Lanka at Galle in November 2018.

The reporter asks Indika if he could ensure that the match would be over within four days. Indika replies, laughing: “I can do it in two and a half!” Morris denies any wrongdoing and says Al Jazeera had invited him to audition for a role in a movie “for public entertainment only”.

Indika denies any involvement in pitch-fixing and says any conversations he had with Al Jazeera journalists was just to be courteous to foreign tourists.

There is no suggestion that any of the players involved in these Test matches had any knowledge of the pitch-fixing.

The ICC said it “will take the contents of the programme and any allegations it may make very seriously”. It said it was “working with anti-corruption colleagues from member countries based on the limited information we have received”. The ICC declined to comment on why it had not taken action when initial concerns were raised about the Galle pitch for the Australia match in 2016.

THREE: from The stuff

A plot to fix a forthcoming England cricket match has been exposed by an undercover investigation. Match fixers have been caught discussing plans to rig England’s first test on their tour of Sri Lanka, scheduled to begin on November 6, the Daily Telegraph has reported in the UK. An undercover journalist, posing as a businessman looking to place bets on the match, filmed a match fixer and the groundsman of the stadium in Galle agreeing to help alter the outcome.The “wicket fixing” plot involves doctoring the pitch to make it virtually impossible for the contest to end in a draw. Such tactics would allow those involved to profit dishonestly from placing bets against that outcome with unsuspecting bookmakers.Betting is a huge industry in India, despite being illegal, and the market is estimated to be worth £45 billion (NZ$87 billion). It has long been customary for pitches to be produced that favour the home team, but the claims that some are being doctored to fix matches for betting fraud will shock many in cricket.The match-fixing allegations come from a documentary entitled Cricket’s match-fixers, to be broadcast by Al Jazeera on Monday morning (NZ time).The programme will put pressure on England to cancel their tour unless the integrity of the series can be safeguarded. The International Cricket Council, the sport’s world governing body, has opened an investigation. Alex Marshall, head of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit said: “We will take the contents of the programme and any allegations it may make very seriously.”An England & Wales Cricket Board spokesman said: “ECB are aware of the planned Al Jazeera documentary, though not the full content. We endorse the ICC’s position and fully support their work and investigations.”

The Sri Lanka test ploy would not require any player to cheat. Instead, it would rely on ground staff producing a pitch on which the ball bounces so unpredictably the game would most likely not last the full five days, as batsmen would find it so hard to survive.

The film footage features Robin Morris, a former professional cricketer from Mumbai; Tharindu Mendis, a professional from Colombo; and Tharanga Indika, an assistant manager at Galle International Stadium. They are shown discussing doctoring pitches with an undercover reporter. Asked when the next such fix would be carried out, Morris replies: “England v Sri Lanka.

Asked if he could fix the surface so a draw would be impossible, Indika replies: “Yes, I can. I can confirm it in advance one week before.”

Morris says Indika had already doctored the wicket for the most recent test played at Galle last July, between Sri Lanka and India, in which India scored 610 runs in their first innings.

Morris denies any wrongdoing, and Indika denies any involvement i

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