Former Sri Lanka cricketer Avishka Gunawardene cleared of corruption charges

Independent tribunal finds retired player not guilty of breaches in T10 league

Sri Lankan cricket batting coach Avishka Gunawardene (R) instructs player Niroshan Dickwella during a practice session at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Pallekele on August 23, 2017. - The second one day international (ODI) cricket match between Sri Lanka and India takes place in Pallekele on August 24. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP)

A former Sri Lanka international has been cleared of breaking cricket’s anti-corruption rules at the T10 League in Sharjah.

An independent tribunal unanimously deemed Avishka Gunawardene not guilty of two charges of breaching the sport’s anti-corruption code at the 2017 T10.

The former all-rounder, who played 67 times for Sri Lanka, had been banned since May 2019 pending the investigation.

It was alleged he had attempted to induce a player into corruption at the first edition of the 10-over tournament at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

However, he was cleared of that, as well as of failing to report to the ICC “full details of any incident, fact, or matter … that may evidence corrupt conduct” at the tournament.

Gunawardene’s judgement is rare case of a player being found not guilty among a spate of corruption scandals in the sport in recent times.

Heath Streak, the former Zimbabwe captain and coach, is the highest profile figure to have been found guilty in the corruption purge.

He was last month banned for eight years for five breaches of anti-corruption rules, including accepting bitcoins worth $35,000 as well as a new iPhone for his wife in exchange for inside information on cricket.

That is the same duration of illegibility that was meted out to Mohammed Naveed and Shaiman Anwar, two former UAE players, earlier this year.

They were found guilty of planning to fix aspects of matches at the 2019 T20 World Cup Qualifier in the UAE.

Coincidentally, Gunawardene’s decision came on the same day that Mohammed Naveed officially lodged his appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

The former UAE captain had registered his case with the dispute resolution institution at the end of March.

Now he has paid the $22,000 fee required to have his appeal considered, after selling a property and his car in Pakistan to subsidise his costs.

Naveed re-hired the legal team who represented him in his anti-corruption case with the ICC, to take his appeal to CAS.