A group of foreign nationals were ejected from an ongoing SLC T20 League fixture, Sri Lanka Cricket has confirmed, after "suspicious individuals" were reported to the board's Anti-Corruption Unit. Though no approaches are believed to have been made to players, SLC has since taken steps to tighten anti-corruption measures at match venues and team hotels.
"Sri Lanka Cricket has also notified the team managers and the players taking part in the tournament to inform SLC, immediately, of any approach by those suspicious individuals," a SLC release said. "In the meantime, the Anti-Corruption Unit of the SLC has already taken steps to refresh the players on the Anti-Corruption Code of Sri Lanka Cricket."
While SLC was unable to confirm the exact numbers or nationalities of the individuals in question, it is understood that they were from the subcontinent. The suspicious use of mobile phones is what is believed to have led the tournament director flagging the individuals to SLC's Anti-Corruption Unit, who then asked police to eject those under suspicion.
"There were a few - we think Indian nationals - at the ground, who had been using their mobiles in a suspicious manner. Immediately we brought them to the notice of the police, who proceeded to eject them from the stadium," SLC CEO Ashley de Silva told ESPNcricinfo.
While it is unclear what exactly constitutes using mobiles "in a suspicious manner", it is understood that officials have been told to keep a look out for excessive use of mobiles, while de Silva noted that officials are particularly vigilant in the case of foreign nationals.
"When there are foreign - South Asian - spectators at the matches you're always a bit more suspicious," he explained. "And during domestic matches, when matches are not being broadcast terrestrially, we're especially cautious. We don't know for sure if they were match-fixers, we were only suspicious and we didn't want to take any chances."
While these games are not being broadcast terrestrially, they are on local cable and are being streamed on YouTube, which means they are accessible to a global audience. That global availability would make the tournament more attractive to bookies.
Also, de Silva said the number of spectators at the ground for the game during which people were ejected stood around 600. Given the number is usually significantly smaller at domestic games in Sri Lanka, this too could have piqued the interest - and subsequently the suspicion - of officials.
The SLC T20 League features four teams representing Galle, Colombo, Dambulla and Kandy, and is set to conclude on September 9 in Colombo.