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Cricket: Sri Lanka suspends Gunathilaka on sexual assault charges

Danushka Gunathilaka, 31, was accused of 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 for alleged sexual assault and will not consider him for any selection.

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

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

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

Gunathilaka’s bail plea was previously rejected by a Sydney court. Outside court, defense lawyer Ananda Amaranath said the decision was disappointing and his client was considering appealing to the NSW High Court.

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

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

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

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

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

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“He has the full support of the Sri Lanka High Commissioner and the Sri Lanka Cricket Board. So that’s fine,” 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 game to England on Saturday in the T20 World Cup and the rest of the team, minus Gunathilaka, went home on Sunday.

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

“The players who participate in these tournaments are not schoolchildren, they are professionals and they must take responsibility for their behavior and the decisions they make,” Jayawardene said.

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