London:Sri Lanka has emphatically denied reports that opener Tillakaratne Dilshan has been investigated for alleged links to bookies. However, the country's cricket board has said that bowler Dilhara Fernado was approached by a bookie, and that the incident was reported to the International Cricket Council.
A UK tabloid -the Daily Mail- said on Friday that Dilshan was reported by the Sri Lanka Cricket Board last year to the International Cricket Council (ICC), after he was spotted with a suspected bookie at a London nightclub.
According to the Daily Mail, the Sri Lankan team manager alerted authorities after captain Kumar Sangakkara shared that team members had said they'd seen Dilshan with the bookie during the Twenty20 World Cup in England in June last year.
"The Sri Lankans followed the ICC's protocol to the letter, reporting the alleged incident as soon as it was made known to the team management," the Daily Mail report said.
Denying the tabloid's article, Sri Lanka Cricket spokesman Brian Thomas described it "character assassination."
Speaking to NDTV, the Chief Executive Officer of the Sri Lankan board, Ajith Jayasekara, also denied that Dilshan had ever been a suspect. He revealed the information about Fernando being approached by a bookie.
Sri Lankan Captain Kumar Sangakkara said Fernando "should be applauded for following the rules" and alerting the Sri Lanka authorities, who, in turn, shared the information with the ICC. (Read: No Lankan player under scanner: Sangakkara)
"In May 2009, the ICC's Anti Corruption and Security Unit travelled to Sri Lanka to interview Sri Lanka's cricketers with regard to the Lahore terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus. During their visit to Sri Lanka, Dilhara Fernando voluntarily reported a suspicious approach to the team management and it was immediately referred to the ICC Anti Corruption Unit who in turned carried out a regulation interview with Dilhara...we can confirm that no further information has been provided to us with regard to this incident or player that necessitates any action or raises any concern," said the Sri Lankan board in a press statement.
Cricket has been in a state of emergency since last month, when another UK tabloid, the News of the World, front-paged a hidden camera report that showed a UK businessman, Mazhar Majeed, offering 'spot-fixing' to an undercover reporter.
In exchange for 150,000 pounds, Majeed said that three no-balls would be delivered by the Pakistani team at pre-determined moments in the Test against England at Lord's. He was right.
Since then, Pakistani captain Salman Butt, Mohammed Asif, Mohammed Amir, and Wahab Riaz are being scrutinized for allegations of match-fixing. The UK police, Pakistan's National Investigating Agency, and the ICC are all conducting inquiries into the corruption that has crisscrossed tournaments and countries.
Sources say that in the next few weeks, another three Pakistan cricketers will be questioned about corruption. Majeed had claimed that in all, seven Pakistani cricketers were collaborating with him.