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‘Pitch-fixing’ plot exposed in upcoming England Test

COLOMBO: A television channel sting operation exposed plot to fix a forthcoming England cricket match scheduled against Sri Lanka at Galle in coming November.

The match fixers have been caught discussing plans to tamper with the pitch in England’s first test on their tour of Sri Lanka.

Posing as a businessman interesting in betting, an undercover journalist of an Arab news channel, filmed a match fixer and the groundsman of the stadium in Galle agreeing to help change the outcome with fixing the wicket.

The plot involves doctoring the pitch to make it virtually impossible for the contest to end in a draw.

Traditionally the pitches to be produced that help the home side, but the claim shocks many that some pitches being doctored to fix matches for betting fraud.

The pitch-fixing claims come from a documentary to be broadcast by Al Jazeera on Monday.

According to media reports, the documentary footage features Robin Morris, a former professional cricketer from Mumbai, Tharindu Mendis, a professional cricketer from Colombo, and Tharanga Indika, the curator at Galle International Stadium. They are captured discussing doctoring pitches with an undercover newsman. On a question when the next such fixing would be carried out, Morris replied: “England vs Sri Lanka.”

Asked if he could fix the surface so a draw would be impossible, Indika replied: “Yes, I can. I can confirm it in advance one week before.”

Morris says Indika had already doctored the wicket for the most recent test played at Galle last July, between Sri Lanka and India, in which India scored 610 runs in their first innings.

The International Cricket Council, the sport’s world governing body, has opened an investigation. Alex Marshall, head of the ICC’s Anti-Corruption Unit said: “We will take the contents of the programme and any allegations it may make very seriously.”

The fraud ploy would not require any player to cheat. Instead, it would rely on ground staff producing a pitch on which the ball bounces so unpredictably that batsmen find it hard to survive and the test match most likely not last the full five days.

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