Sri Lanka says pitch-fixing claims 'difficult to believe'

TV news channel Al Jazeera broadcast a documentary on Sunday showing a groundsman and a player allegedly discussing altering the pitch at Galle during Australia's 229-run loss in the second Test against Sri Lanka in 2016.

SLC vice president Mohan de Silva said that there had been no complaints about the Galle pitch from captains, umpires or the referee during the match between Australia and Sri Lanka in 2016.   -  AFP

Sri Lanka's cricket board on Monday described allegations of pitch-tampering at Galle International Stadium as “difficult to believe”, but agreed to cooperate fully with an international investigation.

TV news channel Al Jazeera broadcast a documentary on Sunday showing a groundsman and a player allegedly discussing altering the pitch at Galle during Australia's 229-run loss in the second Test against Sri Lanka in 2016.

Australia lost all its 20 wickets and was beaten inside three days. Galle groundsman Tharanga Indika and professional cricketer Tharindu Mendis also allegedly speculated about fixing the pitch to ensure a result in under four days in the Test against England in November.

READ: Sri Lanka Cricket suspends two caught in pitch-fixing sting

Both men have been suspended by Sri Lanka Cricket, pending the outcome of an investigation by the International Cricket Council. A third man, provincial coach Jeevantha Kulathunga, was also suspended.

However, the board's vice president Mohan de Silva said that there had been no complaints about the Galle pitch from captains, umpires or the referee during the match between Australia and Sri Lanka in 2016.

“There is no need to investigate the Test. Players did not complain. Captains report, umpires report and the match referee's report did not say anything about the pitch. There is nothing adverse about the pitch. It is difficult to believe there was any wrongdoing,” he told reporters.

ALSO READ: PCB initiates inquiry against Raza for appearance in fixing video

Indika and Mendis were stood down on Sunday after a trailer for the Al Jazeera documentary was aired. Kulathunga was suspended after the full programme by the Qatari channel alleged corruption at the highest levels of world cricket.

Sri Lanka cricket chief executive Ashley de Silva said that the alleged involvement of Sri Lankans in the scandal dealt a blow to the island's reputation.

“It has created kind of a bad impact on the organisation and the country as a whole... We are not encouraging this type of thing (corruption),” de Silva said.

ALSO READ: Match-fixing saga: ICC accuses broadcaster of non-cooperation

The board lodged a complaint on Sunday with Sri Lankan police, who have initiated a separate criminal investigation. The board has also appointed a three-member panel to investigate the matter and issue recommendations to prevent any corruption at future fixtures in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lankan players and umpires have been accused of match-fixing in the past. Jayananda Warnaweera, a former curator at Galle, remains under a three-year ban by cricket's world governing body until January 2019 for failing to cooperate with a corruption inquiry.

No big-name Sri Lankan player has ever been convicted of corruption, but several stars have alleged match-fixing and spot-fixing.