Former Sri Lanka opener and A team coach Avishka Gunawardene, on Monday, made it crystal clear that the charges made against him by the International Cricket Council (ICC) are based on the allegations by a single player, whose own integrity is under microscope.
In a press conference at prestigious Sinhalese Sports Club (SSC), where more than 60 media persons came in support of Avishka, he broke down in tears and asked for the support until he proves his innocence.
Here is the statement, made by Avishka in the press conference:
“My fellow Sri Lankans, cricket lovers, my loyal supporters, faithful friends and representatives of the media, who are present – A warm welcome! I believe all of us are here to hear the truth of this matter from me personally. So, here it is.
Let me start by saying that I have not come out today, just only to defend myself personally, but also on behalf of several other fellow cricketers and coaches, loyal servants of Sri Lanka cricket, who like me, have been suffering silently, whilst a few rouges stole away everything, that many of us have struggled over the years to build.
As some of you may already be aware, the above charges are, in layman’s language, that i have allegedelly encouraged and not reported an incident, which the ICC claims, is a corrupt act under their code.
Based on their purported allegations, my employer SLC has suspended my services and taken disciplinary action against me, without even an inquiry from me, whether I am guilty or not. Well, let me state simply that I am innocent of all these charges.
There are several legal actions being taken at present on this matter and my counsel Mr. Chrishmal Warnaasuriya has already dealt with them in detail. Due to that very reason, I may be restricted in answering some of your detailed questions as well later.
To those of you who know me, my loyalty to the game and my level of integrity as a coach, I don’t need to explain myself to you, thank for your support.
To those of you who don’t know, let me make it very clear, since I came to be involved in the gamif cricket, at the tender age of 11, I have never even once done nor even considerd doing anything illegal or immoral to tarnish my name, nor the game of cricket.
I have always played by the rules, been fair as a coach, and stayed on the straight and narrow, which has not been easy. It all comes from my love and respect for the game and the strong values and ethics that i have been brought up on.
I comes from a traditional family. They are the most important factor in my life and I am fully aware that if i were to stray away, even by a margin, that would bring great sorrow and grief to my parents, my wife, my sister, and would be an absolutely irresponsible example to set for my two little daughters, all of whom i love dearly and mean the world to me.
For the past 12 years, I have been coaching cricket to a cross-section of players, ranging from school level to the Sri Lanka A team.
Until a few days ago, I have not had a single accusation, nor charges made against me, and with good reasons, because I have not done anything illegal, wrong or harmful.
It appears that the so called charges are only based on an allegation made to the ICC by one single player, whose own personal records speaks volumes of his own integrity.
It just so happens, that this player, is one that I have, on more than one occasion, left out of tournaments and teams, mainly due to his lack of discipline and unsatisfactory fitness level.
When the ICC questioned me on this statement, i immediately gave them all assistance, cooperated fully, providing access to my mobile phone, bank statements and all other requests that were made without any hesitation, simply because I had nothing to hide, but here we are.
I have been punished even before being found guilty! That’s why i have decided to fight this and not keep quiet, not just to clear my name and my reputation, but for the sake of the Sri Lanka Cricket and all the cricketers.
I hope you will not trial me by media or social media, but give me the benefit of the presumption of innocence, at least until i have had a chance to defend myself at a proper hearing.
Thank you all for coming here today to support me. I hope I will continue to receive your unconditional support in the coming months, as I fight for justices, which I know is going be a giant struggle.”
On May 10, Gunawardene was charged under the Emirates Cricket Board Anti-Corruption Code
ICC Headquarters in Dubai
The International Cricket Council (ICC), on behalf of the Emirates Cricket Board (ECB). The ICC had charged Gunawardene for two counts. The charges relate to the T10 Cricket League played in the UAE in December 2017. The ICC was appointed by the ECB as the Designated Anti-Corruption Official for the purposes of the ECB’s Code for this tournament and as such are issuing these charges on the ECB’s behalf.
Gunawardene has 14 days from 9 May 2019 to respond to the charges.