Former Sri Lanka Test player and Sri Lanka A Team – Head Coach Avishka Gunawardene has been cleared of match-fixing charges by an independent tribunal, cricket’s world governing body announced in May 2021.
An International Cricket Council (ICC) statement said the tribunal had “unanimously” cleared Gunawardene, 43, who played six Tests and 61 one-day internationals for Sri Lanka.
The ICC said Gunawardene, who went on to become a Sri Lanka A coach, was free to take up cricket activities again.
Gunawardene had been accused of “facilitating” match-fixing and failing to disclose approaches to the ICC’s anti-corruption unit.
Lloyds PR Solicitors represented Mr. Gunawardana in his recent tribunal hearing. The tribunal concluded that Mr. Gunawardana engaged in no corrupt activity and was cleared of all charges.
Here is the statement of Aviska Gunawardena.
As I write this statement, I am not just a relieved and happy man but I feel as if a great weight has been lifted off my shoulders: an immense weight that I have carried with me for two extremely long and troublesome years, of which I spent the better part striving to clear my name. I am extremely pleased that my 24-year unblemished career, remains unblemished and unscarred and today, with my name in the clear, I stand proud and grateful.
The last couple of years have been extremely challenging for me and for my family. The provisional suspension against me has caused immense stress and hardship emotionally and financially, as well as socially. But I won’t go into those details.
What was most damaging, however, was that these charges were brought at all, at a point when I was at the top of my career, a career that had been progressing swiftly in the preceding years and up to that point. I had just been appointed as the Batting Coach for the Sri Lanka National team, a position I had worked hard towards, throughout my coaching career. Needless to say, I missed not only 2 years of my professional career, but many further opportunities as well. Being unemployed and not being able to do what I love to do, as well as being unable to provide for my family for two whole years felt, in truth, like a lifetime. But I always believe that with persistence, the truth will always come out. And I had enough faith in myself and in my integrity to be patient until my name was cleared.
I look at this experience as a test of strength and resilience, and I believe I am stronger, mentally and emotionally, having faced this and having overcome it. This was also a remarkable eye-opener about who I am able to trust, and who my true friends are. I also know that there are many out there who don’t know me personally but who believed in my integrity. I thank you all for your faith in me.
I do not believe that I would be able to stand in this position today without my exceptional legal team, who worked tirelessly since their instruction, literally day and night. I will always be indebted to them for their faith in me.
Manoj Rupasinghe and the team at Lloyds PR Solicitors prepared my case with attention to the finest details of the case, left no stone unturned and kept me involved at every step.
Mark Milliken-Smith, Queens Counsel, was my barrister at the hearing – his dogged and relentless pursuit of the disclosure from the ICC of all relevant material was crucial in my case, and he presented my case with enormous skill and tenacity, making sure that my side of the story was heard clearly by the tribunal.
I am also grateful that the tribunal gave me a fair hearing and did not accept the account of those who accused me with what I always knew were lies.
I would not have been able to endure the last two years without the love and support of my wife and my family who stood by me, believed in me and gave me everything I needed to get through this.
I am also blessed with very special friends who were with me throughout this ordeal and gave me great strength and encouragement. To them, I am enormously grateful.
I’m eagerly waiting to continue what I love doing, which is passing on my knowledge and expertise to our cricketers to be the best at their game, while also guiding them to becoming better human beings.
Thank you all. Budu Saranai!