Gunathilaka denied bail by local court, SLC suspends him from all forms of cricket
Danushka Gunathilaka

Sydney/Colombo: Sri Lanka’s Danushka Gunathilaka was on Monday denied bail by a local court in Sydney after being charged with sexual assault of a woman while his country’s cricket board suspended him from all forms of the game with immediate effect.

The 31-year-old Gunathilaka, who was arrested in the wee hours of Sunday ahead of the Sri Lankan team’s departure from Australia, attended the hearing via video link in Downing Centre Local Court from Surry Hills cells.

Gunathilaka was handcuffed and wearing a grey T-shirt and blue jeans during his virtual attendance at the hearing, according to a report in ‘Sydney Morning Herald’.

His lawyer Ananda Amaranath made a bail application during the “closed court” hearing and magistrate Robert Williams refused it.

“Certainly, we are considering an application to the Supreme Court and that will be done as soon as possible,” Amaranth was quoted as saying in the report.

The Sri Lankan team had left Australia without Gunathilaka after being eliminated from the T20 World Cup on Saturday.

Amaranath said he understood “some team officials remained in the country”.

In Colombo, Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), which has been instructed by the country’s government to launch an enquiry into the incident, suspended him.

“The Executive Committee of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) decided to suspend national player Danushka Gunathilaka from all forms of cricket with immediate effect and will not consider him for any selection after being informed that Mr. Gunathilaka was arrested and charged with sexual assault of a woman in Australia,” the board said in a statement.

“Furthermore, Sri Lanka Cricket will take 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 penalize the said player if found guilty.”

SLC said it adopts a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for 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.

The left-handed batter played against Namibia in the first round match of the ongoing showpiece and was out for a duck. Later, he was ruled out of the tournament due to an injury even as the team qualified for the Super 12 stage. The Lankan team finished fourth in Group 1.

According to local media reports, Gunathilaka and the woman were in touch for a number of days after connecting via an online dating app.

Gunathilaka is no stranger to controversies.

In 2021, he was suspended by SLC for one year after he breached the team’s bio-secure bubble on the tour of England along with teammates Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella.

The board had also handed him a six-month ban in 2018 after he had broken the team curfew. In the same year, Gunathilaka was also suspended after his unnamed friend was accused of raping a Norwegian women.

In 2017, the board had suspended him for six limited overs games after it found out about Gunathilaka missing training sessions and turning up for a game without his cricket gear.

He has represented Sri Lanka in eight Tests, 47 ODIs and 46 T20 Internationals.

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