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08 June 2023

Lanka suspends bowling coach over alleged fixing bid

Sri Lankan spinner Rangana Herath celebrates the dismissal of West Indies cricketer Kraig Brathwaite during the third day of the opening Test match between Sri Lanka and the West Indies at the Galle International Cricket Stadium in Galle on October 16, 2015. (AFP)

By Agencies

Sri Lanka Cricket Monday suspended its fast bowling coach over alleged attempts at bribing players to under-perform in a Test match to ensure a surprise victory for the West Indies.

Anusha Samaranayake was suspended for two months after Sri Lanka's sports minister ordered a probe into allegations of an attempt to engineer a batting collapse in the match in Galle last October,  the cricket board said in a statement.

The hosts won the match decisively.

The board sacked a part-time employee, net bowler Gayan Vishwajith, and slapped a lifetime ban on him entering any cricket premises in the country over the same allegation.

Neither of the men was available for comment.

"Sri Lanka Cricket has received several complaints regarding close acquaintance of Anusha Samaranayake with the main suspect Gayan Vishwajith who had approached several national players for the alleged illegal activities of match-fixing," the statement said.

"Pursuant to a preliminary inquiry conducted in this regard, Sri Lanka Cricket has decided to suspend Anusha Samaranayake for a period of two months until further investigations are concluded."

The police Financial Crimes Investigation Department has already recorded statements from wicketkeeper Kusal Perera and star bowler Rangana Herath about an alleged offer of tens of thousands of dollars in return for a batting collapse.

Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera told AFP last month that an unnamed man linked to a bookmaker had offered the two players some 10 million rupees (around $70,000) to lose the match.

They refused the offer and Sri Lanka beat the tourists by an innings and six runs after veteran left-arm spinner Herath took 10 wickets.

The West Indies, who have never won a Test match in Sri Lanka and went on to lose the two-match series 2-0, were rank outsiders for the showdown in Galle.

Betting is illegal in most of the cricket-mad Indian subcontinent, but backstreet bookmakers - many of whom have links to the underworld - still flourish.

Ronnie Flanagan, who heads the International Cricket Council's anti-corruption unit, recently acknowledged that match-fixing would never be eradicated even though several international stars have been exposed as being in the pay of bookmakers.

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.

Former skipper Hashan Tillakaratne dropped a bombshell in May 2011 when he claimed he had been an eye-witness to match-fixing by fellow players since 1992. Tillakaratne never disclosed any names.

Two Sri Lankan umpires were banned in 2013 after an Indian television station claimed they were willing to make favourable decisions during matches for cash.

Thisara to retire from Tests

Sri Lanka's all rounder Thisara Perera will retire from Test cricket, but will continue playing one-day international and Twenty20 games, officials said Monday.

The 26-year-old sent his retirement letter to Sri Lanka Cricket confirming the end of his Test career, an official from the board said, asking not to be named.

Perera, who has played six Tests since his debut against England in 2011 at Cardiff, has scored 203 Test runs and collected 11 wickets after giving away 653 runs.

There was no immediate comment from Perera, whose decision comes ahead of Sri Lanka's three Test tour of England in May. Sri Lanka is also due to play five ODI games and one T20 during that tour.