Inside Story

Exposed: Sri Lanka Players Australia’s migration to play club cricket started in 2010

Written by N Krishnamurthy

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 on 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.

When inquired, Cricket Age learned that the local players migration to Australia, in order to play club cricket there, started way back in 2010 itself.

Cricket Age understand that in 2012, two Sri Lanka domestic players played for the West Colburg CC. In next few years, plenty of other local  players went to Australia in this initial years to play for the said club.

“I informed my club this was happening since 2010. In one of the house, more than 20 players were living. Player agent used to charge $300 per month from each player those days” a Sri lankan born player from West Colburg CC, who look after these players from his motherland, told Cricket Age.

However, the club couldn’t take action, mainly due to two reasons – overload of migration paper work and language barrier.

And, these were the two main reasons, why Sri Lanka born Sammy Kandage came into the scene. Gradually, other majority of clubs around Melbourne started to hire Kandage for their overseas players recruitment.

“With 408 visa, those players couldn’t work. They had only two options – play or coach” the Sri Lanka born player added.

However, most of the players were not good enough to coach also, due to language issues. Also the Clubs were not used to pay big money for playing. Per season these players were receiving around 5000-7000 Australian dollars.

“So, Sammy started to hook players with cash in hand jobs and get a cut. That’s how those local players used to bring home 1-2 million rupees after paying to agent, when they come back” the Sri Lanka born player added further.

Crciket Age had exclusively published on October 31 that the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has decided to Investigate local players cricket visa scam, which was busted by the Australia’s Herald Sun last week.

“We have decided to setup an investigation to find out whether if board employees are  involved in this big scam. The board president Mr. Shammi Silva has taken these malpractices very seriously and if found guilty, no one will be spared” a top SLC official had told Cricket Age. 

Cricket Australia and Cricket Victoria also 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.



About the author

N Krishnamurthy