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Plot to fix England’s first Test against Sri Lanka exposed

Plot to fix England’s first Test against Sri Lanka exposed by documentary as groundsman claims he can make a draw impossible by damaging wicket

  • A documentary has claimed to expose a plot to fix England’s Test in Sri Lanka
  • Al Jazeera will air footage of a groundsman offering to influence the Test in Galle
  • Tharanga Indika claims workers can damage the wicket ahead of the match 

The Color Toner Experts

Undercover reporters with Al Jazeera have exposed a plot to fix England’s first Test in Sri Lanka in November, claiming a local groundsman had agreed to doctor the pitch to prevent a draw.

In footage to be broadcast on Sunday by the Doha-based TV company, Tharanga Indika, an assistant manager at the Galle International Stadium, is asked whether he can ensure the surface will produce a result, helping illegal bookmakers set their odds. Indika replies: ‘Yes, I can. I can confirm it in advance one week before.’

Indika tells the reporter that ‘three or four’ of the Galle groundstaff will be able to help him, adding: ‘We leave the wicket uncovered for about two weeks. Don’t water it and this will cause damage to the wicket.’ 

The pitch in Galle was the supposed target of match-fixers, reveals an upcoming documentary

It is also alleged by Al Jazeera that Indika had doctored the pitch during India’s visit to Galle in July 2017, when the tourists won by 304 runs. Indika has reportedly denied any involvement in the scam, saying he was merely showing courtesy to foreigners by speaking to journalists.

An ECB spokesman told Sportsmail: ‘The ECB are aware of the planned Al Jazeera documentary, but not the full content. We endorse the ICC’s position and fully support their work and investigations.’ 

There is no question of the board cancelling England’s tour.

The ICC’s anti-corruption unit are aware of Al Jazeera’s investigation, but are frustrated that the broadcasters have failed to pass on information.

India players celebrate at the end of their Test match victory over Sri Lanka in July 2017. There is no suggestion that any player from either side were involved in the alleged plot.

India players celebrate at the end of their Test match victory over Sri Lanka in July 2017. There is no suggestion that any player from either side were involved in the alleged plot.

‘We have already launched an investigation working with anti-corruption colleagues from member countries based on the limited information we have received,’ said Alex Marshall, the general manager of the ACU.

‘We have made repeated requests that all evidence and supporting materials relating to corruption in cricket is released immediately to enable us to undertake a full and comprehensive investigation.’

This is not the first controversy to hit Galle. In January 2016, the then groundsman – and former Test player – Jayananda Warnaweera was suspended for three years for failing to cooperate with ACU officials.

Another figure in the film, thought to be Robin Morris – a former cricketer from Mumbai – says ICC pitch inspectors can be hoodwinked by other means, such as using a special brush on the surface.

Morris tells the reporters that fixers would pay a groundsman up to eight years’ salary to doctor a Test pitch. He denies wrongdoing. 

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