An Al Jazeera investigation has claimed to have busted a pitch-fixing racket in Sri Lanka, where the track for two Test matches in the last couple of years were altered at the behest of betters.
The two matches, according to the Qatar-based network’s documentary on the subject that will be released on Sunday, are Sri Lanka vs India in 2017 and Sri Lanka vs Australia in 2016. Both Test matches were played at Galle.
The documentary, titled “Cricket’s Match-Fixers”, also claims that the fixers’ next target is the Sri Lanka vs England Test in November this year.
The International Cricket Council has launched an investigation into the investigation’s findings, the network said.
The ICC said it took the allegations reported in an Al Jazeera documentary “very seriously” and urged “all evidence and supporting material” to be shared with the investigators.
An advance report on the documentary, which will be broadcast on Sunday, said two Sri Lankans and a former Indian player were caught discussing how to rig England’s opening Test against Sri Lanka in November.
“We have already launched an investigation working with anti-corruption colleagues from member countries based on the limited information we have received,” the ICC said in a statement.
The documentary claims to show a match-fixer from Mumbai telling undercover Al Jazeera reporters that he had bribed the groundsman at Galle to prepare the pitch so as to “ensure guaranteed outcomes”.
The Galle groundsman allegedly claimed that he can doctor the pitch to favour either batsmen or bowlers during the match. Match-fixers then made “large sums of money from betting” based on the groundsman’s word.
In the Australia match, the groundsman allegedly made a pitch suited to bowlers. The Test match was over in less than three days, with Sri Lanka beating Australia by 229 runs. In the India match a year later, a batting-friendly pitch was allegedly produced. As a result, India scored 600 runs in their first innings, and ended up winning the match by 304 runs.
The channel clarified that there was no indication that any of the players involved in these matches were involved in the pitch-fixing. Sri Lanka’s cricket board said it was aware of the allegations and was planning on issuing a statement.
With inputs from AFP