England tour of SL in doubt after allegations of doctoring conditions

News of altering the pitch conditions to influence the outcome of the upcoming Galle Test between hosts Sri Lanka and England, has not just thrown England’s impending tour beginning October in doubt, but has sent shockwaves in the world of cricket early on Saturday (May 26) morning after the Daily Telegraph reported the incident.

The documentary titled Cricket’s match-fixers, to be aired on Al Jazeera on Sunday, revealed an undercover journalist – posing as a businessman keen on being involved in match-fixing – in conversation with ground officials of the Galle International Cricket Stadium. There was a former and a current player too, involved in the discussion. The broadcaster’s investigation made use of hidden cameras to unveil how alleged match-fixer Robin Morris, a former professional cricketer from Mumbai, Dubai-based Indian businessman Gaurav Rajkumar and the Galle stadium assistant manager, Tharanga Indika, how the fix was arranged and how the pitch was prepared unlawfully. Tharindu Mendis, a Sri Lankan first-class player, was also filmed in one of the clips.

The International Cricket Council have already opened an investigation for the same and will now examine the matter deeply. Alex Marshall, head of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit said, “We will take the contents of the programme and any allegations it may make very seriously.”

The England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have learnt of the ongoings and are keeping a close eye on the whole episode. Reacting on the matter, an ECB spokesman said, “ECB are aware of the planned Al Jazeera documentary, though not the full content. We endorse the ICC’s position and fully support their work and investigations.”

The shocking revelation also casts a shadow on the previous contests played at the venue. Al Jazeera’s investigation also alleges that the first Test between India and the hosts last July had been played on a ‘doctored’ surface in Galle to favour the batsmen. The Australian also reported that the Sri Lanka-Australia fixture of 2016 that the visitors lost by 229 runs was played on a tweaked surface that saw 18 Australian wickets fall to spin as they failed to cross 85 in both innings.

The fixers also claimed that the groundsman was paid $37,000 to doctor a Test and that no money was taken upfront, but their involvement meant 30 per cent of the eventual winnings.

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