France’s women’s cricket team demobilized after probe into fake matches

France’s women’s cricket team demobilized after probe into fake matches

In a shocking turn of events, France’s women’s cricket team’s future has fallen in jeopardy after 17 players requested an investigation into the allegations of their governing body staging fake matches to receive funds from the International Cricket Council (ICC).

In November 2023, French cricketer Tara Britton appeared for the training camp of the women’s national team but she was shocked to find herself as one of only two players present. One day before this incident, Britton was among the 17 national team players who had signed an open letter calling for an investigation into the allegations published by FRANCE 24 in November, including that the governing body was staging fake women’s matches to secure extra funding from the ICC.

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“If the allegations are true, we condemn the actions as outrageous and, as players of the national Women’s team, we wish to strongly and firmly dissociate ourselves from the behaviour and actions of France Cricket,” the letter read.

France Cricket’s sporting director Saravana Durairaj arrived at the track in the 15th arrondissement (district) of Paris as they finished their session, Britton recounted. Durairaj had been the coach of the French women’s team since 2019 and under his stewardship, they received promotion to Division One of the ICC 2024 Women’s T20 World Cup Europe Qualifier, beating Sweden, Turkey, Jersey and Germany along the way. He was recently appointed as the CEO of the association.

“He told us, ‘You’re not welcome anymore’ – that we’re suspended,” said Britton, a wicket-keeper and right-handed batter who has represented France in 29 matches.

“He was visibly quite angry. He wouldn’t let us say anything, wouldn’t let us explain our side. He was basically saying he was disappointed in us. He felt let down that – after all the time and effort he put into us – that we have treated him like this,” Britton said.

We dared to say that we knew there were some problems within the federation: Armas

According to a code of conduct signed by the players, it is against France Cricket rules for national team players to criticise the governing body publicly at the risk of being “excluded from the French national team”, reads a code of conduct signed by players.

“We dared to say that we knew there were some problems within the federation. Can you really say that is criticism? It’s factual,” said Lara Armas, who debuted in 2021 like Britton.

Armas was a member of France Cricket’s committee and was appointed head of their commission for the women’s game. According to FRANCE 24, Durairaj said that a decision about the women’s team would be issued in May. He did not respond to more detailed allegations.

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The women’s cricketers in the national team were removed from WhatsApp groups without any communication. On November 19, they found out through social media that they would no longer be participating in the first-ever Women’s European Cricket Championship, scheduled to begin less than a month later on December 17.

Cricket is set to return to the Olympics after a huge gap of 128 years as the beautiful sport will be played in Los Angeles in 2028. The upcoming T20 World Cup will have 20 teams for the first time. While cricket is trying to spread its wings to transcend geographical boundaries, the state of affairs in France is quite deflating and demoralising.

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