‘Player fixing’ saga hits Sri Lanka’s T20 show | Sunday Observer

‘Player fixing’ saga hits Sri Lanka’s T20 show

25 October, 2020
Hasaranga de Silva, one of Sri Lanka’s young hardcore T20 players on the rise plays a shot during a domestic final last week. He will play in the LPL for a team called the Jaffna Stallions (Pic by Sameera Peiris)
Hasaranga de Silva, one of Sri Lanka’s young hardcore T20 players on the rise plays a shot during a domestic final last week. He will play in the LPL for a team called the Jaffna Stallions (Pic by Sameera Peiris)

With under a month left before the much touted Lanka Premier League (LPL) gets underway, many are the claims that some of Sri Lanka’s better ball hitters in T20 cricket have become the victims of backstage fixing and shut out from November’s three-week showpiece that will also feature overseas professionals.

Five teams branded as Colombo Kings, Dambulla Hawks, Galle Gladiators, Jaffna Stallions and Kandy Tuskers are lined up for the occasion, but it has also been alleged that another team called the On-line Fixers could have manipulated the closed door player auctions.

The allegations have come forth after the exclusion of cricketers in the mould of Sri Lanka ODI captain Dimuth Karunaratne, Dilshan Munaweera, Sandun Weerakkody, Chamikara Karunaratne, Pathum Nissanka and Lasith Croosepulle that analysts claim can fit into the books of specialist T20 players.

Fixing is a dirty word in cricket and frowned upon by the purists and the International Cricket Council (ICC) and Sri Lanka is no stranger to the scourge where money talks so that match results and player selections can be arranged accordingly.

The format of T20 cricket, which is what the LPL is about, was created to keep the sport’s future and interests alive amid fears the game could diminish in spectator participation and appeal.

But T20 cricket has now become the do or die sport of gladiators and the most commercially attractive where players who succeed in ‘killing off’ their opponents in the shortest possible time can earn untold riches to last a generation.

Sri Lanka Cricket, the main LPL organiser, was present during the on-line bidding process where players were picked by the team owners who are foreign nationals with access to statistics and performances while coaches and captains also weighed in with recommendations.

But supporters of players who have not been picked allege that outside interference by interested parties had influenced the selection process, a charge dismissed by Sri Lanka Cricket.

“The bidding process was very transparent”, said Sri Lanka Cricket Chief Executive Ashley de Silva. “There was no way Sri Lanka Cricket or anyone else could have got involved in player selections. The franchise team owners had a clear picture of whom they were picking but unfortunately some players could not be selected.”

Sports Minister Namal Rajapaksa, a former Sri Lanka rugby forward and seen my many as the clean-up messiah, had already made it publicly clear that he is prepared for a different kind of scrum and tackle to root out shady activities in cricket.

“I have informed Sri Lanka Cricket to keep in mind the financial transparency and accountability and the transparency in selecting the players and have informed them the (LPL) tournament should be organized on par with international laws and regulations and to strictly implement laws related to match fixing,” Minister Rajapaksa said in a statement published on his official website.

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