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SLC temporarily lifts Panadura, Kalutara bans

Chamara Silva pads up during practice AFP

The bans handed out by SLC to the 22 players implicated in the Tier B match-manipulation case will be lifted, pending the result of an appeal process.

Players of Panadura Sports Club and Kalutara Physical Culture Club were last month banned for one year from all cricketing activities for their supposed role in manipulating the result of a Tier B first-class match in January - captains Chamara Silva and Manoj Deshapriya receiving two-year bans. However, upon receiving complaints from the two clubs, SLC has commenced a formal appeals process, and temporarily climbed down from the original punishments.

The three-member appeals committee is expected to return with their final verdict in two to four weeks, until which time the players of Panadura and Kalutara are free to resume cricketing activities.

Although some players had themselves lodged formal complaints, it is the clubs who were instrumental in persuading SLC to begin an appeals process. The fallout from the initial verdict saw Silva, along with his team-mates, seek out legal representation, as well as distance themselves from Panadura SC. Silva has claimed that he was never given an adequate opportunity, or even informed, to come speak before the original inquiry panel - something SLC contests - and has since called for a fresh inquiry into the allegations.

A lawyer, speaking on behalf of the players of Panadura SC, stated that while his clients would be willing to speak before an appeal committee, they would still continue to call for a fresh inquiry. Accepting an appeal committee, he said, would be akin to accepting the original verdict.

The exact scope of the appointed appeal committee is somewhat unclear, however. While a traditional appeal committee would merely be expected to review already existing evidence, this new committee is actively pursuing fresh evidence from the players of the clubs. As such, it bears resemblance to a fresh inquiry.

SLC also stated that, should they so wish, the committee could even request 'special powers' from the board to interview individuals that may be implicated in the course of the appeals process. If this turns out to be the case, it would be a significant departure from the stance of the original inquiry panel, which did not see fit to investigate any individuals apart from those who had charges laid against them - ie. the players - during the course of its seven-month investigation.

To further complicate the issue, Sri Lanka's sports ministry may also launch a parallel inquiry, though an official announcement is yet to be made.