A Sri Lankan-born players agent residing in Melbourne, Australia, Saman “Sammy” Kandage has come under the spotlight following allegations that the agent employed fraudulent methods to secure Sports Visas for young Sri Lankan cricketers to gain approval for them to play club cricket in Australia.
Kandage is accused of demanding thousands of dollars from Sri Lankan players to doctor their cricketing profiles to provide evidence to Cricket Australia (CA) that the players are of suitable pedigree to be eligible for a Sports Visa. CA thereafter provides a letter of support to the Australian government based on these allegedly falsified statistics as part of each respective player’s visa application.
An exposé by Australian newspaper ‘Herald Sun’ quoted an unnamed 23-year-old player from Sri Lanka who claimed that Kandage of SK Sports secured a sports visa for him to play cricket in Victoria in spite of him having played just one first-class game in Sri Lanka. He went on to add that he handed AUD 10,000 to the agent on arrival at the Melbourne Airport last year before being placed in substandard accommodation where he had to live in a three-bedroom, one-bathroom house with 16 other individuals in conditions he described as “like a refugee camp” and said that he now “hated the game”.
The player revealed that around 70 other cricketers has been brought to Victoria by Kandage in the last season alone.
A further player stated that many young cricketers were linked up with Tingo Education Australia, which operates in Colombo, Matara, Galle and Kandy and/or Trison Business College in Coburg. According to the ‘Herald Sun’, Tingo Education Australia is operated by another Sri Lankan-born individual living in Greevale named Kasun Gamlath.
Victoria Police are launching an investigation into the matter while Cricket Australia are said to be reviewing its visa recommendation process.
Secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), Mohan De Silva told Dailymirror that SLC are aware of the allegations but are yet to receive an any official communication from CA. He did however reveal that SLC would likely initiate an investigation pertaining to the matter from their end as well.
Players travelling to Australia for club cricket are sent with a letter of approval from SLC and it is currently unclear whether these letters have been forged, obtained through presentation of the deceptive stats or through complicit individuals within SLC.
It is claimed that the falsified statistics disappeared from some Sri Lankan players’ profiles within months of them securing their Sports Visas.