Sex scandal rocks Sri Lanka Cricket

Claims that three female cricketers aged 18 to 19 were asked to join a prostitution ring by a cricket official from the Matara District has sent shock waves in cricket circles. Apsari Tillakaratne, the former head of women’s cricket has claimed in a video interview that exposing the scandal cost her job at Sri Lanka Cricket. Two other coaches, who were witnesses during an inquiry conducted by the Sports Ministry also had been sacked. Ms. Tillakaratne is the wife of former Test captain Hashan Tillakaratne and requested President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to probe the incident.

The Sports Ministry had conducted an inquiry with regard to the allegation in March 2018 but the findings were swept under the carpet. Then, Ministry officials quietly watched as SLC officials were bold enough to shoot the messengers.

Ms. Tillakaratne claimed that the accused’s vote base at SLC AGM prompted officials to maintain silence and instead take action against those who brought the incident to light.

"This incident happened during a district tournament. All three children are aged between 18 and 19. These are very poor children and when they had asked the said cricket official to find them employment, he had told them that they could earn up to Rs. 15,000 an hour by being employed at a massage parlour," Tillakaratne claimed.

"The incident was brought to my notice by two coaches. Then I inquired about the incident and took affidavits from all three players. Incidents such as these had been taking place for a while but no one had the courage to report them. I brought the incident to the notice of officials and I was told to get it in writing. I was promised that action will be taken and the copies of the letters were sent to the Sports Minister as well," Tillakaratne added.

"The official who was accused of misconduct had got to know that a complaint had been lodged and investigations were on. He then intimidated these players and their parents. They were eventually silenced. However, one child did not change her stance and maintained what she had initially claimed. I became helpless given the way how people went about things to silence these girls. Then my contract was not renewed. Later, there was a witch-hunt against the two coaches who first reported the incident," Tillakaratne went onto say.

"Although the Sports Ministry conducted investigations, as the person who made the complaint, I was not called up for the inquiry which I find very strange.

"There is new hope following President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s landslide victory. He has promised that he will protect women’s rights and I hope stern action will be taken against those responsible."

Tillakaratne had done some impressive work to improve the interest in women’s cricket. Her initiative to start big matches between girl’s schools saw a record number of new players emerging not just from Colombo but outstations as well. Soon more schools were interested in playing big matches and support from SLC saw women’s cricket thriving.

However, after her removal, the enthusiasm for women’s cricket faded away significantly.

The Tillakaratnes have three children and two of them represented S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia and Trinity College, Kandy with distinction. Both are prominent First Class cricketers at present.

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