Colombo: Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) executive committee on Monday suspended 31-year-old left-hand batter Danushka Gunathilaka from all forms of cricket with immediate effect following his arrest in Sydney on Sunday morning for allegedly sexually assaulting a 29-year-old woman in Rose Bay earlier last week.
Gunathilaka, who was ruled out of the T20 World Cup in the first round itself with a hamstring injury, was replaced in the squad. The 31-year-old, who has played eight Tests, 47 ODIs and 46 T20Is, however remained with the side during its campaign.
Sri Lanka Cricket also said the cricketer will not be considered for any selections “after being informed that Gunathilaka was arrested and charged with sexual assault of a woman in Australia”.
“Furthermore, Sri Lanka Cricket will take the necessary steps to promptly carry out an inquiry into the alleged offense, and, upon conclusion of the aforementioned court case in Australia, steps will be taken to penalise the said player if found guilty,” said the statement.
SLC 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,” said the statement.
A report in Daily Mail on Monday said Gunathilaka was moments away from leaving for the airport to fly back home when he was pulled out of the team bus and apprehended by police.
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”. The latest report said he was in touch with the woman on Tinder before he allegedly sexually assaulted her on the evening of November 2.
Gunathilaka, who spent Sunday night behind bars, has reportedly applied for bail in a Sydney court. He faces four counts of rape.
The report said Gunathilaka and his teammates were preparing to leave their hotel in Sydney’s CBD (central business district) around 1 a.m. on Sunday after being eliminated from the T20 World Cup hours earlier, when the police arrived and dragged the cricketer off the bus.
The report added that while the entire Sri Lankan side, led by skipper Dasun Shanaka flew home, Gunathilaka was taken for questioning and charged. “He was refused bail and spent Sunday night in the holding cells of Surry Hills Police Station.”
Gunathilaka’s defence lawyer Ananda Amaranath was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph that, “He was hoping it (case) would get to court on Sunday, so he’s disappointed that didn’t happen, but he is holding up OK.”
“He is quite concerned about what will happen if he can’t get back to Sri Lanka… these are serious charges and it could take a year or more for this to be finalised, so he is very worried about that too.”
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had confirmed on Sunday morning that they had been notified by the International Cricket Council (ICC) about the arrest of their batter Gunathilaka in Sydney on the allegations of sexual assault of a woman.