Lakshan Sandakan overstepping came from 'trying too hard' - SL bowling coach

Lakshan Sandakan finally had success after his troubles with overstepping
Sri Lanka v England, 3rd Test, Colombo, 3rd day November 25, 2018

It is possible the no-balls were the result of straining too hard for wickets. That was the only explanation Sri Lanka spin-bowling coach Piyal Wijetunge could offer for the events on the third morning in Colombo, when left-arm spinner Lakshan Sandakan had Ben Stokes caught at cover on 22, then at slip on 32, only for the bowler to have been shown to have overstepped on both occasions.

Twice, Stokes aborted his return to the dressing room and returned to bat. Had Sandakan not overstepped, Sri Lanka would have been able to cut short what eventually became defining fifth-wicket stand worth 89.

At one point in the day, captain Suranga Lakmal was seen walking over to Sandakan and physically digging out a new bowling mark, at the top of his run up.

"In fact the no-balls were something new for us as well," Wijetunge said. "This is the first time it has happened with Sandakan. Perhaps he was trying too hard and trying to get bounce off the wicket. That is not an excuse. We must work on that."

Offspinner Dilruwan Perera has also flirted dangerously close to the popping crease all tour, though he has not yet been denied a wicket for overstepping. Where Sandakan's errors were largely unanticipated, Dilruwan's potential problem had already been spotted, according to Wijetunge.

"This is an area that we need to work on. In Dilruwan's case we are working on it and we are in the process of putting it right. He might get it right in the future."

It was a bizarre passage of play. Of the 30 deliveries Sandakan had bowled in his five-over morning spell, as many as 12 (40%) were found to be no-balls by broadcaster Sky, upon reviewing the footage. However, only the deliveries from which wickets resulted were penalised.

The present method of calling no-balls relies on the third umpire only checking video from the side-on cameras when a wicket falls, with on-field umpires seemingly reluctant to call them, in case they do so wrongly and deny the bowler a wicket - a decision which can't be overturned, as Sri Lanka found out to their displeasure at Lord's in 2016.

However, this means a bowler may not know when he is pushing the line. Had more of his no-balls been called, not only would England have been awarded more runs, Sandakan might also have stood a better chance of correcting his footing.

In 2016, the ICC trialed a system of the third umpire adjudicating front-foot no-balls in real-time, then relaying the message to the on-field umpire electronically. However, despite the system being used without hiccup during an ODI series between England and Pakistan, it has not become a regular feature of international cricket.

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