Grassroots cricket is facing a scandal of epic proportions as reports emerge of unscrupulous agents faking statistics and demanding thousands of dollars from overseas players to help them secure sports visas to Australia.
Cricket Age had published yesterday (October 29) with Herald Sun credit, that Sammy Kandage, a Sri Lanka born players agent, who lives in Melbourne now, has come under heavy scanner for obtaining Sports visa’s by unethical methods for first class cricketers from his motherland to provide them a chance to play club cricket in states like Victoria. Kandage, along with one of his colleague, has been accused for demanding thousands of dollars from the players to help in securing visas by allegedly doctoring their career profiles, so they can gain entry to Australia.
A Sri Lankan player – who said he “now hated the game” after his deeply traumatic Melbourne experience – has claimed that he had played just one first class game in Sri Lanka before scoring a sports visa through agent Saman “Sammy” Kandage of SK Sports to play cricket in Victoria.
He handed over $10,000 on arrival at Melbourne Airport late last year and was then provided with accommodation through the same agent in a three-bedroom, one-bathroom home with 16 other people. He described the living conditions as “like a refugee camp” and at times he feared for his life, he said.
“$10,000 is huge money in Sri Lanka,” the player, who is too scared to be named, said.
The 23 year-old, from Sri Lanka’s southwest coast, said the agent had brought about 70 young Sri Lankan cricket players to Victoria last season.
Another Sri Lankan cricketer, who also requested to remain anonymous, said many players were linked up with Tingo Education Australia, which has headquarters in Colombo, Matara, Galle and Kandy in Sri Lanka and/or Trison Business College in Coburg, to gain qualifications.
In order of having the better understanding of how the cricket visa scam works, here is a complete process, in which majority of Sri Lanka players have been trapped by the so-called agents:
- Sri Lanka cricket players seek out an Australian based ‘player agent’ they have heard about on-the-grapevine in their own country – or are approached by one – for help in gaining Sports visas of up to two years, to Australia.
- After agreeing to pay a hefty sum to the agent, either into their Sri Lanka bank account or in cash on arrival in Australia, the agent assists with their visa application process and helps arrange sponsorship with cricket teams in Australia.
- It’s claimed player statistics and histories are sometimes doctored, to provide the required proof to cricket Australia that they are First Class cricketers, capable of playing at national level in Australia.
- It’s alleged that these fake statistics sometimes only remain online for three months, or until visas are approved, and then ‘mysteriously disappear”.
- Cricket Australia writes a letter of support for players ‘408 visa application’, based on the fake statistics. Their visa application is assessed by the Australian government.
- Once the players are in Australia, some are placed in substandard accommodation, arranged by their agent, which they pay rent for. In other cases Sri Lankan players have been crammed into accommodation organised by their agent, with one report of up to 17 people squeezed into a three-bedroom house, each paying rent.
- Others are not paid as they should be, with agents pocketing some or all of the players payments, they are entitled to from their clubs.
- Players, who seek to stay in Australia longer than two years, may then pay even more money to their agent, for help in changing their visa to a student visa, which allows them to work.
- They may also be put in touch with specific colleges, so that they can earn qualifications in the hope of staying longer in Australia. These colleges charges up-to $7000 per semester.
- Before the student visa expires, they can apply for a permanent visa to try and stay in the country indefinitely.
- “Players and their families borrow money and “sell their jewelry and land” to pay these agents” the 23 year-old, from Sri Lanka’s southwest coast, said.
- The frauds have been committed in establishing fake first class profiles also, in order to play club cricket in Australia. The Cricket Australia only gives its support to visa applications, via a letter, after seeing proof of players’ superior cricket skills. Players must first show statistical evidence via international cricket database to prove they have played first class cricket in their country, as an indication that they can play, coach or instruct at the Australian national level.
Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria said they were “deeply concerned” by the allegations, brought to light through explosive revelations
“There is no place for the mistreatment of players who come to play cricket in Australia, at any level. The alleged behavior of so-called ‘player agents’ is deeply concerning, and is not something that Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria condone in any way.
“We take these allegations very seriously and will be taking immediate action to support any investigation and the players involved,” a spokesman said.
It’s understood Australian Border Force is now also making inquiries, on the back of the explosive revelations, and could refer the matter to Australian Federal Police.