Sri Lanka Cricket Team Brawled at a Casino, Followed a Fake Prophet, and Committed Crimes, Report Finds

  • The report deals with the T20 cricket World Cup last October-November
  • Players were involved in a brawl at a casino while eating a late dinner
  • One man has already been suspended, and another was arrested
  • The investigative team called for an audit of the Sri Lanka cricket board
People playing cricket on a beach in Sri Lanka
In a new report, the Sri Lankan cricket team was found to have committed a variety of offenses, including getting into a brawl at a casino. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Sri Lanka cricket reprimanded

An inquiry has detailed ignominious behavior from Sri Lanka’s cricket team after its departure from the World Cup, including casino fights, corruption, and criminal activity.

The Sri Lankan team was stunned by Namibia at the recent T20 cricket World Cup and failed to make it out of its Super 12 group less than two months after it won the 2022 Asia Cup Final.

a slew of behavioral problems, both criminal and otherwise undesirable

An independent authority investigated the team’s actions and found a slew of behavioral problems, both criminal and otherwise undesirable. The list of problems included one member being charged with sexual assault, players brawling in a casino, and following advice from a fake prophet.

Criminal behavior

Investigators, led by retired Supreme Court Justice Kusala Sarojini Weerawardena, took exception to how players, officials, and associates conducted themselves during the World Cup in Australia last October and November.

The investigative team has since requested a probe of the Sri Lanka Cricket board and implored the sports minister to get involved.

got into a fight when he objected to having his picture taken

The most publicized offense was the team’s involvement in a brawl at a local casino. A previously unnamed team member, now known to be bowler Chamika Karunaratne, and six of his teammates got into a fight when he objected to having his picture taken. Karunaratne was fined and handed a suspended ban last year following the outburst.

Team manager Mahinda Halangoda told investigators that the team only ended up at the casino because it was searching for food and “all restaurants in Australia close after 8:00 or 8:30 p.m.” The panel found this to be untrue, and also recommended that casinos be off-limits to all athletics teams.

Batter Danushka Gunathilaka was also arrested on four counts of rape shortly after his team was eliminated from the competition. He was charged with having non-consensual sex with a Sydney woman; he and his teammates were denied bail.

Signs of corruption

On a non-criminal level, it was revealed that ex-performance manager Jerome Jayaratne joined the team in Australia for ten days and was given $7,000. However, he spent the time in Melbourne, away from the players and visiting family, instead. 

Jayaratne is related to the Rajapaksas, an in-power political family in Sri Lanka, through marriage. 

Former captain Mahela Jayawardene also joined the team in its journey to the land down under, only to establish a new location in his Ministry of Crab restaurant chain. 

a man claiming to be a prophet played a surprisingly large part

The strangest part of the report showed that a man claiming to be a prophet played a surprisingly large part in the team’s endeavors. Following the man’s advice, the now-suspended Karunaratne left an oil lamp burning in his room all night despite the hotel warning of a fire hazard.

In one final dig, the panel noted that the team’s physical condition should be improved.

Sri Lanka cricket is yet to respond with a comment on the investigation or requests for an audit. Sports Minister Roshan Ranasinghe said that he will examine the report carefully and use it to determine if legal punishment is required.