Former Sri Lanka international Dilhara Lokuhettige banned from cricket for eight years

ICC hand out punishment for 'continued refusal to cooperate'

The International Cricket Council has banned Dilhara Lokuhettige for eight years. Satish Kumar / The National
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A player who attempted to fix aspects of matches in the T10 League in Sharjah, and whose lawyer termed the ICC a “den of thieves”, has been banned from the sport for eight years.

Dilhara Lokuhettige, the former Sri Lanka international, was earlier this year found guilty of attempting to “fix or contrive or otherwise influence improperly” matches at the 2017 T10.

Three months later, he has been handed a sanction which the ICC believe “should serve as a deterrent for anyone considering getting involved in corruption of any kind”.

The sanction will be backdated to April 2019, when he was first suspended, meaning he will be ineligible to return until 2027, by which time he will be 46.

“Having represented Sri Lanka in international cricket, Dilhara had attended a number of anti-corruption education sessions and would have known his actions were a breach of the code,” Alex Marshall, the ICC’s head of integrity, said.

“The severity of the sanction reflects the seriousness of his offences and his continued refusal to cooperate and should serve as a deterrent for anyone considering getting involved in corruption of any kind.”

Lokuhettige was found guilty of three breaches of the sport’s anti-corruption code in January, offences which included trying to induced an unnamed Sri Lankan international player to fix aspects of the T10.

The guilty verdict was unusual among the spate of recent corruption cases in the sport in that it was arrived at by a majority, rather than unanimous, decision by the three-man tribunal.

The difference of opinion centred on whether Lokuhettige could be considered to be under the ICC’s jurisdiction as a “participant in cricket”. He had no official involvement in the T10, as either a player, coach, or official.

After the judgement was announced in January, a management agency purporting to represent Lokuhettige posted footage of a press conference in which his then lawyer said: “We have evidence on ICC ACU, it is a den of thieves.

“Do not let ICC, which is a multinational company, harass Sri Lankan players.”

The ICC believed the comments to be emblematic of a lack of remorse on the player’s part, according to the sanction report.

“That lack of remorse has been compounded by the approach he has taken in these proceedings,” the report said

“Especially the making of [or permitting his counsel to make] very serious, highly improper and totally unsubstantiated allegations about the conduct of the ICC ACU, and public comments outside of these proceedings, in breach of the code’s provisions relating to confidentiality.”

Lokuhettige pleaded for clemency from the tribunal, citing “the devastating past and future financial impact” of his offences.

He has three children, aged 12, 7 and 5, and says he has not worked since being suspended from cricket. The family’s main source of income is his wife’s job in catering for a government geriatrics’ hospital.

The tribunal acknowledged his offences “go the very core of the fundamental sporting imperatives that underpin the code,” which in appropriate cases, “could mean a lifetime ban from the sport”.

However, it decided against the maximum sanction, saying it was “persuaded that the key factors relied on by way of mitigation in Mr Lokuhettige’s case are well founded.

“It accepts that attempts in principle under governing English law warrant lower penalties than completed acts,” the report stated.

“[Also] that Mr Lokuhettige did not in the end personally benefit from his offences, that his approach to [the player] was relatively unsophisticated, and his general financial background and circumstances made him vulnerable to corrupt approaches.”