The International Cricket Council (ICC) has launched an anti-corruption investigation in Sri Lanka but did not specify if any particular series involving the country is under the scanner.
The ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) officers had recently visited the country as part of the probe, the world body said in a statement.
“The ICC Anti-Corruption Unit works to uphold integrity in cricket and this includes conducting investigations where there are reasonable grounds to do so,” ICC’s General Manager ACU, Alex Marshall, said in a statement.
Sri Lanka had lost a home ODI series against Zimbabwe 2-3 before suffering a whitewash at the hands of India, losing three Tests, five ODIs and a one-off T20 International.
The ICC statement came a day after Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) said that 40 of its contracted players called for an immediate inquiry into certain “shocking” allegations made by former player and selector, Pramodya Wickramasinghe, insinuating unnatural and mysterious match patterns.
“There is currently an ICC (ACU) investigation underway in Sri Lanka. Naturally as part of this we are talking to a number of people.
“We will not comment any further on an ongoing investigation. If anyone has information that would assist the ACU in its enquiries, we would urge them to get in touch.”
According to SLC sources, at least three members of the ICC’s anti-corruption units arrived in Sri Lanka to meet with its cricket officials.
They have addressed the members of the Sri Lankan team which is due to leave this week for the UAE to play Pakistan in two Tests, five ODIs and three T20Is.
The 46-year-old Wickramasinghe, a former fast bowler who played 40 Tests and 134 ODIs, had made the allegations during an interview to a local television station.
He had alleged that there were “unnatural match patterns” and player selections, while blaming the current management for the team’s poor performance.
However, Wickramesinghe later said in a statement: “At no point I was making allegations against players, what I did was to bring out floating rumours and call for a proper inquiry.”
The SLC confirmed that the ICC ACU has commenced a preliminary inquiry in Colombo with regard to various allegations that had been circulating in the recent past.
In its statement, the SLC said that the players expressed profound “shock and displeasure” and rejected the allegations as totally “baseless, disparaging and hurtful”.
The Board said it has also issued a directive to all SLC officials and employees to extend their fullest cooperation providing any and all information required in order to assist the ACU in a thorough inquiry.
This was decided at an Executive Committee meeting held on Saturday at the SLC Headquarters.
“We are most pleased that the ICC ACU has decided to initiate this inquiry. We request all those who have any information to come forward and help with this inquiry by declaring all their information and evidence rather than casting aspersions from the sidelines and damaging the reputation of our players, our cricket and our Nation,” SLC Chief Executive Officer Ashley de Silva said while commenting on the inquiry.
“We believe this will exonerate our national players, who themselves have requested an inquiry.”
“We are committed to working closely with the ICC to complete this inquiry expeditiously and give our players the freedom to concentrate on playing their cricket without the cloud of these various allegations, which no doubt affect their game, hanging over them,” de Silva said.
The players urged SLC to initiate an immediate inquiry by summoning Wickremasinghe as they had all been slandered by his “diabolic allegations”.
However, SLC did not say if it had launched such an inquiry.
Former Sri Lanka captain Arjuna Ranatunga, in July, had also demanded an inquiry into the team’s defeat to India in the 2011 World Cup final in Mumbai.