An inquiry into Sri Lanka’s nightmare display at the T20 World Cup in Australia last year has revealed that the team were involved in a casino brawl while key figures within the squad started to believe in a fake prophet.
A five-member independent panel investigated the team’s off-field behaviour during the tournament and its surprising findings were revealed this week. The panel’s 63-page report offered damning findings on the former T20 World Cup winners who failed to get out of the Super 12 stage at last year’s tournament, finishing fourth in their group.
The report, which was received by AFP press agency, stated that bowler Chamika Karunaratne was “involved in a brawl at a casino along with six teammates when the star objected to having his picture taken”.
Sri Lanka’s team manager Mahinda Halangoda reportedly told investigators that the players were in the casino for dinner due to ‘all restaurants in Australia closing after 8pm or 8.30pm’. He stated the gambling venue offered the only food available. However, the panel didn’t agree with his claim.
The panel recommended that players should be banned from visiting casinos on overseas tours and also that wives should be allowed in their hotel rooms “to ensure they do not stray out and violate team discipline”.
The panel’s report also found that “a man claiming to be a prophet had established considerable influence over some team members and key officials”. The panel called for a wide investigation into their findings with the report adding that the ‘fake prophet’ had influenced Karunaratne to “leave an oil lamp burning in his room, despite hotel warnings of a fire hazard”.
Leader of the panel was retired Supreme Court Justice Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena who called for a comprehensive audit of the Sri Lanka Cricket board. He also urged the country’s sports minister to seize documents to stop any evidence being destroyed amid the investigation.
Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe told AFP that he will “study the report and act on it to ensure team discipline and stamp out corruption”. (Mirror)