A day after the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) executive committee suspended 31-year-old left-hand batter Danushka Gunathilaka from all forms of cricket following his arrest in Sydney on Sunday morning for allegedly sexually assaulting a 29-year-old woman earlier last week, the country’s cricket governing body appointed a three-member panel to investigate the matter.
The panel will seek an immediate explanation from the team Manager pertaining to the conduct of the cricketer and how the sequence of events unfolded.
Gunathilaka was moments away from leaving for the airport to fly back home after Sri Lanka’s exit from the ICC T20 World Cup, when he was pulled out of the team bus and apprehended by police on Sunday morning.
According to New South Wales Police department, the 31-year-old Sri Lankan cricketer was communicating with a woman for a few days “via an online dating app before they met in person". He then allegedly sexually assaulted her on the evening of November 2. Gunathilaka faces four counts of rape.
“Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to announce the appointment of a three-member investigation panel consisting of Justice Sisira Ratnayake (Retired High Court Judge), Mr. Niroshana Perera, Attorney-at-Law, and Mr. Asela Rekawa, Attorney-at-Law, to initiate an inquiry into the alleged incident involving player Danushka Gunathilaka," said SLC in a statement on Tuesday.
“The committee will also focus the inquiry on various alleged incidents that have come to the attention of Sri Lanka Cricket and that are said to have allegedly taken place during the national team’s stay in Australia. The panel in this process will call for an immediate explanation from the Team Manager pertaining to his conduct, with references to the occurrence of such incidents," said the statement.
“Upon submission of the said report by the Panel, the Executive Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket will take stern disciplinary action against the players and or officials if proved any wrongdoing or negligence when carrying out official duties," the statement noted.
Gunathilaka, who was ruled out of the T20 World Cup in the first round itself with a hamstring injury, was replaced in the squad, but the cricketer — who has played eight Tests, 47 ODIs and 46 T20Is — remained with the side during its campaign.
SLC has also said it will provide all possible support to the Australian law-enforcement agencies to carry out an impartial inquest.
“Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to emphasise that it adopts a zero tolerance policy for any such conduct by a player and will provide all the required support to the Australian law-enforcement authorities to carry out an impartial inquiry into the incident," an earlier statement had said.