Former player Russel Arnold has sensationally claimed Sri Lanka’s Test players may not be able to trust each other in their upcoming series against Australia due to a cricket corruption scandal gripping their country.
Arnold conceded an ICC Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) investigation launched in Sri Lanka would be a distraction and may lead to players questioning one another’s motives and even game plans in Australia.
While Australia may appear vulnerable before the two-Test series gets underway in Brisbane on Thursday as they rebuild from the sandpaper controversy fallout, Arnold admitted Sri Lanka had their own problems.
The ACU launched the probe in the wake of a series of corruption cases involving former Sri Lanka internationals and administrators.
Sri Lankan cricketers have been granted a 15-day amnesty and have until the end of the month to report previously undisclosed information.
“I would be surprised if none of this is in the back of their mind,” said Arnold, who played the last of his 44 Tests for Sri Lanka in 2004.
“Whether they can trust their teammate, whether they can trust anyone’s instructions or game plans to carry out. It has to worry them.
“Trust does take a beating. You tend to wonder what the hell is going on.”
Following last month’s ICC meeting in Dubai, Sri Lanka’s sports minister Harin Fernando said the world body had ranked the country’s cricket administration “corrupt from top to bottom”.
The ICC said players can be suspended for up to five years for failing to pass on information but anything reported during the January 16-31 amnesty would not attract a charge.
Asked if Sri Lanka’s players could block out the controversy while in Australia, Arnold said: “It is easy to say but I doubt it happening because anything around (the team) will certainly worry players.
“They are all human. Even we (outside team) are feeling a little nervy about what we are hearing.”
The ACU probe has been bubbling since late 2017 when 40 cricketers – including national captain Dinesh Chandimal – petitioned Sri Lanka Cricket to investigate allegations made by ex-player and selector Pramodya Wickramasinghe.
Former quick Wickremasinghe alleged there were “unnatural match patterns” and player selections.
Former captain and selector Sanath Jayasuriya was charged in October by the ICC for refusing to co-operate with the ACU but denied any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, ex-Sri Lankan bowler Dilhara Lokuhettige was also charged last year for violating the anti-corruption code relating to a 10-over league clash in the United Arab Emirates.
And ex-paceman and bowling coach Nuwan Zoysa was provisionally suspended by SLC over match-fixing accusations.