COLOMBO: The International Cricket Council said Saturday it was investigating allegations that a Sri Lankan groundsman had agreed to tamper with the pitch to alter the result of an upcoming Test match against England.
The ICC said it took the allegations reported in an Al-Jazeera documentary “very seriously” and urged “all evidence and supporting material” to be shared with the investigators.
An advance report on the documentary, which will be broadcast on Sunday, said two Sri Lankans and a former Indian player were caught discussing how to rig England’s opening Test against Sri Lanka in November.
“We have already launched an investigation working with anti-corruption colleagues from member countries based on the limited information we have received,” the ICC said in a statement.
It also called for the immediate release of any evidence and supporting material to enable the anti-corruption unit to “undertake a full and comprehensive investigation.”
The London-based Daily Telegraph said late Friday that the Al Jazeera footage seen by the newspaper featured Robin Morris, a former professional cricketer from Mumbai, India, Tharindu Mendis, a player from Colombo, and Tharanga Indika, an assistant manager at Galle International Stadium.
The newspaper reported that the footage showed the men talking about doctoring pitches during a meeting with an undercover reporter.
The men were reportedly discussing ways to prepare the pitch to ensure that the first Test at the Galle ground would not end in a draw and would yield a result in less than four days.
Sri Lanka’s cricket board said it would “extend its fullest cooperation to the ICC to investigate the latest allegations levelled via media reports, over ‘match fixing’.”
The former curator of the Galle International Stadium, Jayananda Warnaweera, is already under an ICC ban for three years until January 2019 for failing to cooperate with an anti-corruption investigation.
Warnaweera, a former Test player, had failed to attend interviews with the ICC’s anti-corruption unit. He had been previously handed a two-year ban by the local board over the same allegations.
Sri Lankan players and umpires have been accused of match fixing in the past, but Warnaweera is the highest ranking official punished so far.
Although no big-name Sri Lankan player has ever been convicted of corruption, several former stars have made allegations of either match fixing or spot-fixing — when players deliberately bowl or field badly to give away a set number of runs.
Sri Lanka Cricket says it will offer its "fullest co-operation" with the ICC. It said on Saturday it was "constantly engaged with the ICC and is following its guidelines on how to handle anti-corruption operations for the forthcoming tours in Sri Lanka."