SLC has slapped former Sri Lanka player Chamara Silva with a two-year ban from all "cricket-related activities" for his supposed role in a Tier B first-class match that featured unusual scoring rates. The ruling comes after a seven-month inquiry into events of the third day of the Panadura Cricket Club v Kalutara Physical Culture Club match played from January 23 to 25.
Many others have also been banned for their participation in the game, including Kalutara captain Manoj Deshapriya for a two-year period. The remaining players, coaches, and administrators have all been given one-year bans, while the clubs have each been fined 500,000 Sri Lankan rupees (approx. US$ 3300) each. The result of this match has been discounted as well, meaning Sri Lanka Ports Authority Cricket Club earns promotion to Tier A instead of Panadura. Kalutara face relegation.
Though, technically, this is a case of match-fixing - the teams seemingly having agreed to play in such a way that a certain result was more likely - at no stage have any players, coaches or administrators been suspected of taking money.
This result-manipulation, it appears, has been purely about promotion and relegation from the top tier of Sri Lanka's first-class cricket. What happened is that having begun the final day on 180 for 2, still in their first innings, Panadura added 223 runs in 22.3 overs at a run rate of 10.34. The remaining two innings of the match were then also played at breakneck pace - all on the same day. Kalutara were bowled out for 197 in 22.5 overs in the second innings, before Panadura hit 167 for 7 in 13.4 to win the game. Around 15 overs had remained in the match for Panadura's push for victory.
That Silva has been served the harshest sentence is odd, however, given he was absent from the final day of play when the suspicious scoring rates occurred. Silva has been quiet about the whole affair as well.*
"[Silva] is the captain-cum-coach [of Panadura], so he's responsible," SLC vice president K Mathivanan told ESPNcricinfo. "For any team the captain is responsible. Whether he made the decision or not - we don't know that part. But according to the ICC rules - even for slow over-rates - the captain is responsible."
Although there has been speculation that Silva deliberately stayed away from the final day's play because he knew foul play was afoot, Mathivanan suggested the board did not buy into that theory.
"How do you know that he didn't agree [to manipulate the result]? He could have come and given evidence in front of the independent committee [that had made the inquiry into the incident]. He never did.
"And also, each player had been represented by lawyers, including Chamara Silva. Lawyers appeared on behalf of all the club players."
And as to why the administrators of each club appear to have been given relatively light sentences, Mathivanan said: "If the independent committee has not found evidence against administrators, we can't punish them. We based [the punishment] on their findings."
However, despite SLC's desire to appear forthright and forceful on this issue, the board has been anything but. The inquiry, which began in February, was meant to take only a few weeks, yet found itself repeatedly lengthened. The board claimed this was because it was a complex legal process. But SLC may also have trod carefully because both Panadura and Kalutara hold votes at the board elections - the next round of which is likely to be held early next year.
*06.50 GMT, September 17: Further information was added to this story after its initial publication.