Sri Lankan authorities deny match-fixing allegations

Mahela Jayawardene was accused of changing the game against Pakistan

Colombo: Mar 2, 2011

Sri Lanka’s cricket authorities on Tuesday denied allegations of match-fixing by two of their players in their World Cup defeat to Pakistan.

Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera may have deliberately “changed the game” by getting out cheaply and said the outcome would have been different had the pair scored more runs. The channel said a local businessman had placed an $18,000 bet on Sri Lanka losing the game.

Sri Lanka, who are one of the favourites to win the tournament, fell short of Pakistan’s total of 277-7 by 11 runs on Saturday, leaving thousands at a packed R. Premadasa stadium in Colombo devastated. “It is with deep regret that we note that a leading television channel in a special programme, namely ‘Wimasuma’, has stated that Sri Lanka has lost against Pakistan due to two of our leading players not getting runs in that game,” Sri Lanka Cricket said in a press release.

“Further they added that the two players had failed intentionally, thereby implying that our players might have been involved in match-fixing,” said SLC. “SLC strongly condemns the bona fides of this anchor, who hosted the programme carrying a story that is baseless and thereby demoralising our players during the ongoing World Cup.”

“SLC will take up the matter with the relevant authorities of this channel, based on the fact that this channel has brought great distress to two of our cricketers who have served the country with honour and dignity,” it added. Jayawardene contributed two runs and Samaraweera one to Sri Lanka’s total of 266-9.

Jayawardene was considering legal action against the station for implying he was guilty of corruption, the BBC said. The player’s manager told AFP on Tuesday that they were not commenting because “a formal process has been initiated”.

Sri Lankan team manager Anura Tennekoon denied there would be any inquiry from the SLC or from the International Cricket Council (ICC). “Knowing both Mahela and Thilan, we feel there is no necessity to investigate the matter and, as far as the ICC has concerned, they have the right to investigate but so far they have not brought anything on this,” Tennekoon said. “But we will discuss the matter with our lawyer as well.”

Three Pakistan cricketers — Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Aamer — were banned last month on charges of corruption relating to last year’s Lord’s Test against England. Many Sri Lankan players have been investigated by the ICC over match-fixing in the past but no one had ever been punished.