Sri Lanka: Sanath Jayasuriya defends ‘integrity’ amid ICC charges

Sri Lanka’s former cricket captain Sanath Jayasuriya has said he has always acted with integrity and transparency, a day after he was charged with two counts of breaching the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) anti-corruption code.

The World Cup winner and former national team selector is accused of failing to cooperate with an investigation by the ICC’s anti-corruption unit, cricket’s world governing body said in a statement on Monday.

The 49-year-old was also charged with trying to conceal, destroy or tamper with evidence that could be crucial to the probe. 

“The contents of the letter which has been released to the media has caused a lot of speculation among the cricket-loving public both domestically and internationally,” Jayasuriya said in a statement on Tuesday.

“I am under advice to state that the charges do not contain any allegations pertaining to match-fixing, pitch-fixing or any other corrupt activity.

“The charges allege that I have not been cooperative and not assisted the investigations.”

The ICC has given Jayasuriya 14 days to respond to the charges, but did not state which matches the charges and investigation relate to.

“I am under strict legal advice that no comment is to be made in respect of the above charges as such a course would offend the ICC rules,” the retired cricketer said, adding that his legal team is drafting a response for submission.

“I have always conducted myself with integrity and transparency with matters concerning the sport and I will continue to do so,” he said. 

Match-fixing in Sri Lanka

Earlier this month, the ICC said Alex Marshall, general manager of the anti-corruption unit, was overseeing a probe into potential corrupt practices over “serious allegations” in Sri Lanka.

The world body said it has provided a detailed briefing to the country’s president, prime minister and sports minister.

Match-fixing allegations plagued Sri Lankan cricket earlier this year, when Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit exposed three former international players, including Sri Lanka’s Jeevantha Kulatunga, who were prepared to take money to fix matches.

Exclusive: Cricket match-fixers caught in the act in Sri Lanka

As part of the investigation, Al Jazeera also revealed how criminals fixed two Test matches – Sri Lanka versus India in July last year and Sri Lanka versus Australia in August 2016.

Jayasuriya famously led Sri Lanka to its first and only victory at the World Cup in 1996 and is widely considered one of the greatest batsmen in history.

After a 22-year-long career that ended in 2011, he served in the Sri Lankan parliament and became the national team’s chairman of selectors.

Last year, the Jayasuriya-led selection panel resigned en masse following protests over Sri Lanka’s slump in form.

The Sri Lankan team, who are currently playing a home series against England and are in action on Wednesday, have distanced themselves from the scandal.

“We have decided that the players will not answer any questions with regard to Sanath,” said Sri Lankan team manager Charith Senanayake during a press conference on Tuesday. 

“It’s not a distraction because Sanath has no role to play with the squad at the moment and as a team as a whole, we would like to stay away without a comment on the whole saga,” he added.

Al Jazeera and news agencies

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