High-profile coach Avishka Gunawardene has become the latest ex-Sri Lanka cricketer to attract corruption charges, after he was slapped with two counts of breaching the Emirates Cricket Board's (ECB) anti-corruption code. He has been provisionally suspended under the ECB code pending the determination of the charges, and has also been suspended by Sri Lanka Cricket.
Gunawardene's charges relate to the T10 tournament played in the United Arab Emirates in 2017, in which he was the head coach of Team Sri Lanka. Nuwan Zoysa, who was bowling coach on that trip, has also been charged with four counts of breaching the ECB's code.
Where Zoysa had already been charged with three counts of breaching the ICC's code in October last year, Gunawardene has become embroiled in such allegations for the first time. And where Zoysa had been sent on compulsory leave by SLC when those charges were laid in October, Gunawardene had continued to work as the head coach of Sri Lanka's A team and, more recently, the Emerging Team. However, the board suspended him on Friday, after the charges were made public.
The charges against Gunawardene are as follows:
- Directly or indirectly soliciting, inducing, enticing, instructing, persuading, encouraging or intentionally facilitating any participant to breach [the anti-corruption] Code
- Failing to disclose to the Anti-Corruption Unit (without unnecessary delay) full details of any incident, fact, or matter that comes to the attention of a participant that may evidence corrupt conduct under the Anti-Corruption Code by another participant.
The ECB's charges on Zoysa, meanwhile, largely map on to the charges the ICC had laid in October, with one additional charge now being brought.
Originally, he stood accused of accused of:
- Being involved in attempting to fix or otherwise influence improperly the result or other aspects of a match
- Soliciting fellow professionals to do the same, and
- Failing to disclose any approach by potential fixers to the ICC Anti-Corruption Unit
He has been essentially charged with all of the above by the ECB, as well as with failing or refusing, without compelling justification, to cooperate with any investigation carried out by the ACU in relation to possible corrupt conduct.
SLC CEO Ashley de Silva said the board had not been aware that Gunawardene was about to be charged. Gunawardene is, in general, a well-regarded coach within the Sri Lanka system, with the 'A' team having performed especially well under his watch. Many Sri Lanka players also credit him for having had a positive influence on their development.
Both Gunawardene and Zoysa now have 14 days to respond to these charges.
In addition to these two, Sanath Jayasuriya and Dilhara Lokuhettige had also been dealt with corruption-related charges as part of a broad ACU investigation in Sri Lanka. Jayasuriya is presently serving a two-year ban on all cricket-related activities for refusing to co-operate with investigations.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf