Fixing-phobia leaves Sri Lanka groping | Sunday Observer

Fixing-phobia leaves Sri Lanka groping

CEO Ashley de Silva takes up a question in the presence of England captain Eoin Morgan
CEO Ashley de Silva takes up a question in the presence of England captain Eoin Morgan

Not a soul in Sri Lanka has ever been cast into damnation over match-fixing for money or self-gain but Sri Lanka Cricket has been left high and dry while team coach Chandika Hathurusinghe has got the jitters and already made a preemptive strike ahead of the home series against England.

The latest episode comes after the anti-corruption unit of the International Cricket Council (ICC) said it briefed the island’s head of State and Prime Minister over what it said were shady happenings taking place like nowhere else in the world.

It probably marks the first time that the ICC has taken up corruption in cricket with a country’s President and Prime Minister at the same time.

But Sri Lanka Cricket was caught unawares and had to learn about an ICC probe only after reading newspapers.

“There are no concerns at all (about match fixing ahead of the England series)”, said Sri Lanka Cricket’s CEO Ashley de Silva.

“When anti-corruption investigations are carried out, they (ICC) won’t keep anyone notified and it is done very secretively. We were not aware that anti-corruption officers were here (in Sri Lanka). We got to know about it only through an ICC Press release”.

But the confusion over who might be involved in match-fixing or what can be said or not in public has made coach Hathurusinghe take his own stance to shield himself from any utterance that may land him in trouble.

“I can’t discuss pitch conditions”, Hathurusinghe declared bluntly when he was asked whether his team was looking forward to playing on pitches against England in the home series that would be similar to the ones in England where the World Cup will be held next June.

With no culprits banned or jailed or fined, match-fixing which has become some kind of a phobia in Sri Lanka took a strange turn five months ago when the international television channel AL Jazeera aired a documentary claiming that a pitch-fixing drama took place in Galle some years ago where the curator, a former player, is alleged to have told its under-cover reporters how he could doctor a pitch to suit illegal betting syndicates or provide inside information to them.

He referred to an international Test match in Galle that ended inside three days. Despite numerous requests from the ICC, Al Jazeera refused to provide them (ICC) with more information on the matter which baffled the keepers of international cricket.