Several documents pertaining to match fixing in a domestic First Class game a couple of seasons back have been handed over to Minister of Sports Namal Rajapaksa earlier this week to start a fresh inquiry. Several leading cricket officials including those in the Executive Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket are alleged to have conspired to fix a First Class game in 2017. The most high profile name among those who came under the spotlight is SLC Vice-President Ravin Wickramaratne.
Sri Lanka Cricket had launched several inquiries into the incident that brought disrepute to the game and the reports were sent to the Sports Ministry but the findings and recommendations were swept under the carpet under the watch of three different Sports Ministers. However, since the Yahapalana government was defeated, there has been fresh hopes that an impartial inquiry would be conducted into the incident.
Panadura Sports Club and Kalutara Physical and Culture Club fixed a First Class match in 2017 in such a way that the former gained promotion to the elite division while the latter continued to play First Class cricket without being relegated. Officials of both clubs served in the SLC Ex-Co at the moment and it has been alleged that this resulted in investigations moving at snail’s pace.
Among the documents handed over to the Sports Minister earlier this week are the Match Referee’s Report, Local inquiry report, finding of President’s Counsel Palitha Kumarasinghe and affidavits of players who participated in the game.
The affidavit of former Test cricketer Chamara Silva, who captained Panadura directly implies Wickramaratne of promoting foul play and then interfering with evidence when an inquiry was conducted into the matter. Wickramaratne has repeatedly maintained his innocence although he has been accused of being the mastermind of the incident.
The incident occurred at a time when the International Cricket Council had opened up a record number of investigations on Sri Lanka relating to corruption in sports. Several players, coaches and others associated with the game attached to Sri Lanka have been either suspended or provisionally suspended by the ICC.
In that context, SLC’s lukewarm attitude in taking action against the incident has left many disappointed. Despite inquiries being conducted at a cost of huge sum of money, some of these reports have not been even tabled at the Ex-Co meeting causing severe delays.
Wickramaratne has also come under criticism from his colleagues at SLC for drafting in individuals who were directly involved in corrupt practice such as Manager of Panadura SC for administrative roles attached to SLC.
Sri Lanka men’s and women’s teams ready to contest FIBA Asia Tournament
by a Special Sports Correspondent
The Sri Lanka Men’s and Women’s basketball teams took flight to Singapore on Tuesday for the FIBA Asia 3×3 Basketball tournament.
The two teams have been in preparation since April and are being coached by Ajith Kuruppu.
The men’s team has to first prove its worth against China and Tonga and one more team before qualifying for the main tournament. “It’s going to be a tough tournament, but the men’s and women’s teams have been practicing well. Our preparations were good and we want to make an impact at the tournament,” said Kuruppu. According to the Sri Lanka teams’ coach China will be a tough challenge in the men’s segment of the tournament.
“We’ve been gelling together as a team during training and the players have a good understanding when playing as a unit,” said Sri Lanka’s Mens’ Team skipper Shehan Fernando.
Sri Lanka’s women’s team has made a direct entry into the tournament. Sri Lanka Women’s team skipper Anjali Ekanayake said that the ranking of the players in the national 3×3 team is good. “These players have got much exposure playing in this format of the game. We’ve been focusing on nutrition and shooting over the past few months. Training went well for the tournament,” said Ekanayake.
Coach Kuruppu took this opportunity to thank Vaaj Fitness for sponsoring the two national teams to Singapore and for making their gym available for the players to do strength and conditioning training.
Chathurya, Dinara, Saajida, Vishmi advance to second round
ITF Junior Tennis Week 2 Tournament
Chathurya Nilaweera ousted India’s Dhanush Varma to reach the second round of the ITF Junior Tennis Week 2 Tournament continued at the SSC Tennis Courts on Tuesday.
Nilaweera was the only player in the boys’ category from Sri Lanka to advance from the first round as he beat Varma 6-2, 6-0.
In the girls’ category Dinara de Silva, Saajida Razick and Vishmi Serasinghe reached the second round when they won their respective first round matches on Monday.
Dinara beat Yu Ching Wang of Taipei 6-3, 7-6(4) and Razick beat Indian Anushka Bhola 6-1, 6-1, while Serasinghe ousted Wei Chiao-Chen also from Taipei 6-1, 6-1.
In the other matches Dinethya Dharmarathe, Dahamna Methnadi, Nesangi Hemakumara, Vinethya Dharmarathne and Gehansa Metnadi conceded first round defeats.
In the boys’ category Vichinthya Nilaweera, Methwan Wijemanne, Abdul Bashit Cader, Thilina Dissanayake and Zahid Zihar were eliminated in the first round.
The boys’ and girls’ second round matches will be played today.
The tournament which commenced on July 4 will culminate on Friday.
Sri Lanka add more spin options after first Test disaster
by Rex Clementine
Sri Lanka have taken some desperate measures leading up to the second Test against Australia in Galle by adding more spin options indicating that the team management and the selectors are willing to make wholesale changes after the pathetic performance in the first Test which they lost before lunch on day three.
Left-arm spinner Lasith Embuldeniya has been sent home after he failed to make an impact following the ten-wicket loss last week. In an inexperienced attack, the 25-year-old with 17 Test caps is the senior most bowler but he had got his lengths wrong in a game dominated by Australian spinners. Embuldeniya had struggled in Bangladesh as well and was dropped. Instead of letting him fight his way back, he was drafted into the first Test against Australia and it wasn’t surprising to see him failing to make an impact. Now with the series at stake, Sri Lanka have pressed the panic button.
Even if Dimuth Karunaratne’s side win the second Test, Australia will retain Warne-Murali Trophy since they are the holders having blanked Sri Lanka 2-0 in 2019.
Sri Lanka’s desperation is evident by the fact that they have recalled Maheesh Theekshana, who hasn’t played a First-Class game in four years. In fact, Army had been told not to consider Theekshana for the ongoing one-day competition to help him recover from niggles but suddenly he finds himself in the hot seat with a Test series at stake.
Uncapped Dunith Wellalage also has been added to the squad giving the left-arm spin option that has been taken away following the axing of Embuldeniya. Support left-arm spinner Praveen Jayawickrama had tested positive for COVID.
Former captain Angelo Mathews who was in isolation after testing positive for COVID has returned a negative test and has rejoined the team.
Off-spinner Lakshitha Manasinghe is the third player to be added to the group. He had an impressive series against Australia ‘A’ too. It is expected that Wellalage will make his Test debut while the slot for the third spinner is a toss-up between Jeffrey Vandersay and Maheesh Theekshana. The leg-spinner was untidy in the opening Test and the more realistic option seems to be that Theekshana debuting alongside Wellalage.
Although three replacement spinners have been added, some wonder why Sri Lanka have not thought of some batting replacements. It was a pathetic display by the team in the second innings where they were shot out inside a session and faced only 22.3 overs.
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