Cricket: Sri Lanka suspends Gunathilaka after sex assault charges

Danushka Gunathilaka, 31, was charged with sexual assault while in Australia to play in the T20 World Cup.

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) says it has suspended Danushka Gunathilaka from all forms of cricket following his arrest in Sydney over an alleged sexual assault and will not consider him for any selections.

The 31-year-old cricketer, in Australia for the T20 World Cup, was charged with sexual assault and was denied bail by a court in Sydney on Monday.

“The Executive Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket decided to suspend national player Danushka Gunathilaka from all forms of cricket with immediate effect and will not consider him for any selections …” the SLC said in a statement on Monday.

SLC said it had a “zero tolerance” policy for any such conduct and will cooperate with Australian law enforcement. SLC will carry out an inquiry into the incident, it said on Sunday.

Earlier, a Sydney court declined Gunathilaka’s bail plea. Outside the court, defence lawyer Ananda Amaranath said the decision was disappointing and his client was considering appealing to the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Gunathilaka’s bail application was made in a closed court after the police prosecutor lodged an application to prevent the publication of the facts of the case and the indictment.

The cricketer had spent a night in custody at the Surry Hills Police Station before appearing in handcuffs and a grey T-shirt via video link at the court.

“Yes sir,” he told the court when asked if his video link was working.

Gunathilaka travelled to Australia with Sri Lanka’s T20 World Cup team but played in the team’s first game only, which they lost to Namibia, before being ruled out of the competition with a hamstring tear.

The cricketer had been holding up well considering the circumstances, his lawyer told media outside the court.

“He has the full support of the Sri Lankan high commissioner and the Sri Lankan cricket board. So he is OK,” Amaranath said.

The left-handed batsman has played nearly 100 T20 and One-Day Internationals for Sri Lanka and eight Test matches.

Sri Lanka lost their final group match to England on Saturday in the T20 World Cup and the rest of the team – minus Gunathilaka – left for home on Sunday.

Consultant coach and former captain Mahela Jayawardene, who had travelled with the team to Australia, told reporters at the airport in Sri Lanka on their arrival that it would be up to the Australian judicial system to determine what had happened.

“The players who go on these tournaments are not school kids, they are professionals and they must take responsibility for their behaviour and the decisions they make,” Jayawardene said.

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