Controversy abounds in the West Indies as Sri Lanka are penalised for ball-tampering

The second Test of Sri Lanka’s tour of the West Indies has been marred by controversy, with Sri Lanka refusing to take the field at the beginning of the third day. The refusal followed a charge being laid against them for altering the condition of the ball on Day 2.

What happened?

After the close of play on Day 2, the umpires reviewed footage which they suspected would show evidence of Sri Lanka altering the state of the ball. According to ESPN Cricinfo, they found sufficient evidence to lay the charge. The rules of the game state that the offence for which Sri Lanka were found guilty is punishable by a 5 run penalty.

 

According to Sri Lankan officials, the side was made aware of this penalty just a few minutes prior to the commencement of Day 3, and they were not given a chance to review the footage themselves. As a result, the players refused to enter the field of play to start the day’s play at the scheduled time of 9:30am. 

Over an hour later, the Sri Lankan players entered the field of play, and at this point the 5 runs were officially added to the West Indies score and the ball changed. Sri Lanka subsequently took umbrage once again, and moved to the outer section of the field. Eventually, around two hours after the scheduled start of play, Day 3 action began.

What next?

The match will be played out as normal, but Sri Lanka have made it clear that they are playing under protest. They were advised to do so by the SLC in order to ‘uphold the spirit of the game’. It does, however, appear likely that an appeal will be lodged after the conclusion of the match. The team has told the board that ‘Sri Lankan players have not engaged in any wrongdoing’, and the SLC stated that they will ‘take all necessary steps to defend any player’. Short of an equivocal statement of an appeal, this is about as clear as it gets that they will not accept the charges. 

Interestingly, Sri Lankan player Dasun Shanaka was charged for altering the condition of the ball just over six months ago. The SLC accepted that charge, making their refusal to acknowledge wrongdoing in this case even more notable.

In what has virtually become an aside to this story, the match itself is actually shaping up to be a good one! The furore occurred when the West Indies were 2/118 chasing Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 253. Sri Lanka responded well from the controversy, bowling out the home side for 300, and are now 1/34 in their third innings.

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