ONE = DAILY NEWS Item: “Sports Minister directs SLC to take prompt action on ‘pitch fixing’, 28 May 2018
Sports Minister Faiszer Mustapha has in a letter addressed to the secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket has directed the national body for the sport to promptly initiate an independent investigation into the alleged incidents of ‘pitch fixing’ at Galle International Stadium as exposed by TV channel Al Jazeera yesterday and to impose strict punishment on those who are found guilty of such offence.
The Sports Minister’s media release reads:
I was saddened and dismayed to witness the report broadcast in the Al Jazeera television network about incidents relating to alleged tampering of pitches used for international matches played at the Galle International Stadium.
As you aware the game of cricket is the preeminent sport in Sri Lanka and has captured the hearts and minds of the public of our country. Thus, games of cricket in particular international cricket should be played under conditions which are above the suspicion of any foul play or malpractice.
Accordingly I hereby inform you to
- a) Promptly take steps to lodge complaints against the persons who have been allegedly involved in ‘pitch fixing’ in order to initiate criminal prosecutions against such persons
- b) Promptly initiate an independent investigation into the alleged incidents of ‘pitch fixing’ at the Galle International Stadium in order to ascertain the veracity of the said allegation.
- c) Impose strict punishments on any employee, agent or assign of Sri Lanka Cricket who may be found to have been involved in the said alleged incidents by the said investigation.
SLC ACTS ON SPORTS MINISTER’S DIRECTIVE – COMPLAINS TO CID
Consequent to a letter received from the Minister of Sports Faiszer Musthapa with regard to the above, the Executive Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket convened an Emergency Meeting yesterday and arrived at the following decisions:
- SLC will complain to the Criminal Investigations Department against the persons who have been allegedly involved in “Pitch Fixing” as reported in the Al Jazeera documentary.
- SLC decided to suspend with immediate effect the alleged individuals involved in the said incident against whom ICC is carrying out investigations.
- SLC will fully co-operate and offer all assistance to the ICC on its investigations on the said Al Jazeera documentary which has wider allegations globally.
- SLC appointed a 3-member committee consisting of Mohan de Silva, Air Commodore Roshan Biyanwila and Channa Weerakkody to submit a report within 3 days, making recommendations on the existing protocols; applying to the Management and Staff of every venue and to implement safeguards to prevent occurrences of such incidents in the future.
TWO = Champika Fernando & DAILY MIRROR, “SLC complains to CID on the “Pitch Fixing”, 27 May 2018
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) will complain to the Criminal Investigations Department against the persons who have been allegedly involved in “Pitch Fixing” as reported in the Al Jazeera documentary and decided to suspend their service with immediate effect. Already ICC is carrying out investigations.
In a statement it said the decision had been taken following an Emergency Meeting convened by SLC Executive Committee this evening.
“SLC will fully cooperate and offer all assistance to the ICC on its investigations on the said Al Jazeera documentary which has wider allegations globally,” it said.
Meanwhile, SLC had appointed a three- member committee consisting of Mr. Mohan de Silva, Air Commodore Roshan Biyanwila and Mr. Channa Weerakkody to submit a report within 03 days, making recommendations on the existing protocols; applicable to the Management and Staff of every venue and to implement safeguards to prevent occurrences of such incidents in the future.
After an undercover report exposed an alleged plot to fix the upcoming opening Test between Sri Lanka and England in November this year, Sri Lanka Cricket has decided to appoint an independent curator in future to work with local groundsmen.
According to a report in Qatar-based TV channel Al Jazeera, match fixers have been caught discussing plans to rig England’s first Test on their tour of Sri Lanka.
An undercover journalist, posing as a businessman looking to place bets on the match, filmed an alleged match fixer and the groundsman of the stadium in Galle agreeing to help alter the outcome. The documentary will be aired by Al Jazeera later today.
“We will appoint an independent curator to prepare pitches in future,” said Sri Lanka Cricket President Thilanga Sumathipala. “The local groundsmen will work under him”.
After the report surfaced last morning, SLC CEO Ashley de Silva has requested the International Cricket Council–the world governing body for cricket–to investigate the allegations. The local board will not take any action but will assist ICC investigators in uncovering the truth.
“Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) will extend its fullest cooperation to the International Cricket Council to investigate the latest allegations levelled via media reports, over ‘match fixing’,” a SLC statement said. “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.”
The board says 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 statement said.
The report has implicated two Sri Lankans –a curator and a former first class cricketer–and two Indians but involves no current players.
According to reports, the undercover journalist made use of hidden cameras to unveil how the alleged fix was arranged and the pitch doctored. The reports show match-fixer Robin Morris, a former professional cricketer from Mumbai; Dubai-based Indian businessman Gaurav Rajkumar; the Galle stadium assistant manager, Tharanga Indika; and Tharindu Mendis, a former Sri Lanka first class player-turned-coach plotting the fix.
ICC have already launched an investigation.
“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,” a statement on its website says.“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 the report, the matches played at Galle against Australia in 2016 and against India in 2017 were fixed. However, it could seem like Al Jazeera is trying to make a mountain of a molehill as it has been quite usual and accepted for the home team to fix the wicket to suit to their advantage.
It was well documented that Sri Lanka, with a very strong spin attack, were preparing a spin-wicket for the Australians who have historically struggled on spin-friendly Asian tracks; and a sporting wicket for the Indians who were a much stronger side than Sri Lanka in all departments.
Sri Lanka beat Australia by 229 runs inside three days after bowling tourists out for 106 and 183 on a turning track, their second victory in a 3-0 whitewash in the series.
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.
In the other match in question, India thrashed Sri Lanka by 304 runs as Sri Lanka were restricted to 291 and 245. India scored a huge 600 in the first innings and added further 240 for the loss of three wickets giving Sri Lanka an improbable target of 550.
According to the video clip, the Assistant ground manager Indika appears to have told the 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.
ICC last year launched an anti-corruption probed in Sri Lanka but are yet to release their findings.
SLC appoints committee to investigate
Meanwhile Sri Lanka Cricket today appointed a three-member committee comprising Mohan de Silva, Air Commodore Roshan Biyanwila and Channa Weerakkody to submit a report within three days, making recommendations on the existing protocols; applying to the management and staff of every venue and to implement safeguards to prevent occurrences of such incidents in the future.
The was pursuant to a directive by the Minister of Sports Faizser Musthapha. SLC will also complain to the Criminal Investigations Department against the persons who have been allegedly involved in “Pitch Fixing” as reported in the Al Jazeera documentary. Meanwhile they have decided to suspend with immediate effect the alleged individuals involved in the said incident against whom ICC is carrying out investigations.