COLOMBO – An unwanted and unnecessary distraction has reared its head in the West Indies’ camp on the eve of their crucial semi-final match against Australia in the ICC World Twenty20.
Sri Lankan police early yesterday morning arrested three British women who were reportedly found socializing in the hotel.
The DAILY NATION has confirmed that Sri Lanka police bodyguards protecting players at the tournment arrested the three Brits at the posh Cinnamon Grand Hotel here in the capital and handed them over to the nearby police station for further investigations.
A statement from the police read: “Ministerial Security Division (MSD) guards assigned to protect the players carried out the arrest and the three women were handed over to the Kollupitiya police . . . .”
Press reports said the women were with four Windies players in the hotel.
Star batsman Chris Gayle was singled out by the local media as one of the players but Philip Spooner, the West Indies media manager, told the DAILY NATION the incident was “not a Chris Gayle matter” as was being portrayed.
“There was an incident on the night of Tuesday, October 2 . . . the matter was dealt with by the police and the matter is now closed. Our focus is strictly on cricket . . . There was absolutely no wrongdoing on the part of anyone on the West Indies team,” he said.
An official hotel spokesperson said there was no wrongdoing on the part of the players or the women and they were surprised at the actions of the police.
Asking to remain unnamed, the official reiterated that the cricketers did not breach any security laws and that the “boys” in the team had been great.
Further DAILY NATION investigations revealed that the women were approved to be social guests of the cricketers and were simply making their way back to the lobby when stopped and questioned by police.
Only last week, a Sri Lankan court convicted a man posing as a male escort after he broke into the hotel rooms of two Australian cricketers and offered them sex during the ongoing World Twenty20.
The 21-year-old Sri Lankan, named as Abdul Karim, was fined 1 000 rupees and handed a one-month suspended jail term after he pleaded guilty to a charge of breaking and entering.
The authorities had declared floors occupied by cricketers as out of bounds as part of security for players during the September 18 to October 7 tournament that was billed as the same level as for visiting heads of state.
Meanwhile, the West Indies will face Australia twice tomorrow in both men’s and women’s semi-finals.
This is the first time both West Indies teams have qualified for the Final Four in the same tournament.
“This is huge,” declared men’s skipper captain Darren Sammy. “We have two more hurdles to jump and I know we have the team to do it.”
Sammy said when they left the Caribbean the plan was to be here in October.
“It’s now October and we are still here, so that means we are at the business end . . . we mean business,” he added.
“We will take it stage by stage. We have worked hard to reach this point and with good planning and execution there’s no reason why we can’t go all the way.”
West Indies women topped Group B with two wins and one defeat.
They thrashed New Zealand by seven wickets and hammered South Africa by ten wickets. In between, they suffered a shock defeat by five runs (D/L Method) against Sri Lanka.
“We are delighted to have reached this stage for the second World T20 tournament in a row. We are feeling quite confident at this stage and believe we can beat the Australians,” said captain Merissa Aguilleira.
“They are the defending champions but we know we have the players who can win this match and take it all the way.
“This is what we came here for. This is why we play. To be the very best, you have to beat the very best and go all the way.”