Chandimal set to miss time after being found guilty of ball-tampering

The third day of the second test between West Indies and Sri Lanka started controversially, when the visiting Sri Lankans were penalised for allegedly altering the conditions of the match ball the previous day. What followed was a two hour period in which Sri Lanka initially refused to take the field, eventually took it, and then left again when it was found that they would be penalised five runs.

According to Sri Lankan officials, the reason they left the field at this point is that they had previously made an arrangement with the match umpires which wouldn’t see them penalised. The umpires, however, obviously recall things differently.

Regardless, the match eventually got back under way and eventually ended in a draw. In the aftermath, Sri Lanka were charged with ball-tampering. The video footage of the incident showed showed Sri Lankan captain Chandimal taking something out of his pocket and putting it in his mouth, before applying saliva to the ball.

Chandimal, however, disagreed with the allegations, and appealed the charge after he was fined 100% of his match fee and handed a one match suspension. On Wednesday though, it emerged that his appeal had been unsuccessful.

As a result, Chandimal will miss the day-night test in Barbados. His Sri Lankan side is currently down 1-0 and will need to win this test to salvage a draw, and he will be sorely missed.

In addition to these charges, Sri Lankan coach Chandika Hathurusingha, as well as manager Asanka Gurusinha were charged with ‘conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game’. Rather than being related to the ball-tampering itself, this charge is a result of Sri Lanka’s refusal to initially take the field on day 3 of the second test.

ICC’s judicial commissioner Michael Beloff set their hearing for Wednesday, June 27. The third test begins on June 24, so barring a particularly short test, the hearing will take place in the midst of the match. Since it will take place after the commencement of the test however, both of these men will be available to perform their roles for Sri Lanka during this test. 

The controversy comes at a time when discussion about ball-tampering in world cricket is in full swing. This isn’t a particularly new problem, but it infamously culminated in the Australian ball-tampering saga in South Africa earlier this year, which saw captain Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner suspended for a year, and young opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suspended for nine months.

Interestingly, as pointed out by Sidharth Monga in this ESPN Cricinfo article, the past twelve years has seen seven cases of ball-tampering, and in all seven instances it has been the away side doing the tampering. This, of course, is not some random coincidence that results from away teams feeling more inclined to alter the condition of the ball than the home side. Rather, it comes about because in order for ball-tamperers to be caught, there needs to be footage of them doing the deed. Since games are covered by broadcasters native to the country in which the game is being played, they are inherently more inclined to highlight the opponents being naughty than their home team. This, of course, is not to justify the actions of the away sides breaking the rules, but it is an interesting notion.

As it is, Sri Lanka will need to deal without their captain for the third and final test of the series. His importance to the team is undeniable, both as a captain and a batsman, and never has that been more clear than in this series. He comfortably top scored with a stoic 44 off 183 in his side’s first innings of the first test when Sri Lanka were rolled for just 185, and followed up with a brilliant 119* in the first innings of the second test. He is second only to Kusal Mendis for total runs in the series, and with an average of 76.33 has easily the highest average. Having already gone down 1-0 with his strong performance so far in the West Indies, this will make things a whole lot tougher for the visitors.