How the ball-tampering episode unfolded in St Lucia

The umpires and batsmen wait on the Sri Lanka players
West Indies v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, St Lucia, 4th day June 17, 2018

Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal has been suspended for one Test for ball tampering. In addition, Chandimal, coach Chandika Hathurusingha and team manager Asanka Gurusinha, have also been charged with a Level 3 spirit of cricket offence, for their part in having kept the Sri Lanka team off the field for almost two hours on day three of the St. Lucia Test. If found guilty of the spirit of cricket offence, the three men could receive suspensions of between two to four Tests. Here is the sequence of events that led to this situation.

  • Following play on the second evening, in which Sri Lanka were straining for wickets, umpires Aleem Dar, Ian Gould and television umpire Richard Kettleborough, had had some concerns over the methods Sri Lanka had used to maintain the ball. As a result, they asked the television crew if they had any suspicious footage.

  • The next morning, the umpires viewed footage (which may be viewed here) of Chandimal retrieving something from his pocket, putting it into his mouth, and only a few seconds later, applying that saliva to the ball before handing it to bowler Lahiru Kumara.

  • Upon viewing this footage, the umpires laid the charge of ball tampering, about 10 minutes before the teams were due to take the field on day three. Incensed partly by the timing of this charge, and the fact that the ball had been changed by the umpires, the Sri Lanka team refused to take the field.

  • Over the course of two hours, in which Sri Lanka team management was seen in animated discussions with match referee Javagal Srinath, and had also been in contact with cricket administrators in Colombo, the matter was discussed at length.

  • Among Sri Lanka's concerns was the timing of the charge. They believed it should have been laid on the second evening itself, rather than having been sprung on the team just before play.

  • Eventually Srinath issued an ultimatum: either Sri Lanka take the field before 11:30 am (the scheduled start had been 9:30), or forfeit the game. Sri Lanka resumed play just before this period elapsed.

  • That Srinath allowed Sri Lanka such a lengthy grace period is because the team was in constant contact with him and the other match officials. In fact, there was one false start - Sri Lanka had taken the field to resume play before being hauled off it again by team management. In the time they were on the field, Chandimal was in discussion with at least one umpire.

  • Later on day three, Sri Lanka cricket issued a release stating that the team strongly denied all charges, with the support of its administrators. Chandimal pleaded not guilty to the charge, and play went on as usual.

  • The match was eventually drawn - Sri Lanka essentially running out of time as they attempted to dismiss West Indies in the final innings. The rain had also washed out most of the final session. West Indies had five wickets remaining.

  • A hearing was held following the end of the second Test, during which Chandimal was shown the footage. According to ICC release, Chandimal had said at this hearing that he did not remember what he had put in his mouth.

  • Finding this explanation unconvincing, Srinath imposed the harshest possible sentence for a ball-tampering offence: a one-Test suspension. In the wake of the Cape Town ball-tampering scandal, match officials had in fact been instructed by the ICC to impose the harshest possible penalties on ball tamperers - a fact that Srinath had conveyed to both teams before the start of the series.

  • In addition to this suspension, the match officials charged captain, coach and manager with a Level 3 spirit of cricket offence. If coach and manager are found guilty, they will not be allowed to be in the dressing room while they serve out their suspensions. Chandimal is allowed to be inside the dressing room, but cannot step out into the field of play, even to carry drinks.

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