Jul 12, 2018

Chandimal, Hathurusingha out of SA Tests

Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal, coach Chandika Hathurusingha and manager Asanka Gurusinha have accepted they will not participate in the Test series against South Africa, after the ICC concluded its hearing on the trio, who had pleaded guilty to a level three spirit of cricket offence.

The ICC tweeted ten hours before the start of the first Test that the judicial commissioner would announce his decision in "due course". In the interim, Chandimal, Hathurusingha and Gurusinha will serve a two-match suspension at least. The hearing, which began at roughly 6pm Sri Lanka time on Wednesday, went for more than five hours.

That the trio will sit out the Tests is no real surprise - they had pleaded guilty to an offence that carries a minimum punishment of four suspension points, which corresponds to two Tests. They will hope, however, that judicial commissioner Michael Beloff hands out no more than four suspension points. He could slap them with as many as eight points, which would rule them out of four further ODIs as well. One suspension point corresponds to a ban of one ODI.

In fact, Sri Lanka had hoped to talk the ICC down from even the minimum suspension of two Tests, citing several mitigating factors for their refusal to take the field on the third morning of the St Lucia Test last month. They had argued that the entire two-hour delay that morning was not solely their fault, and that a miscommunication with the match officials had lengthened the delay.

But with the three men having already pleaded guilty to the offence, a two-match suspension at least was always likely to be imposed.

The spirit of cricket charge relates to Sri Lanka's refusal to resume play on the third day in St Lucia. After initially having reacted with shock at a ball-tampering charge against Chandimal, which was laid only ten minutes before play on that morning, Sri Lanka had refused to take the field in protest. They had then briefly walked on to the field, believing that no five-run penalty for tampering would be incurred, and that the ball that was used the previous day would not be changed. But upon realising that the umpires were in fact changing the ball, and that the five-run penalty was indeed added on, they left the field again, delaying play for another 40 minutes.

Chandimal has already served a one-match suspension for tampering, but this punishment for the spirit of cricket offence will extend his ban. He is allowed to be in Sri Lanka's dressing room throughout this South Africa series, but is not allowed to take the field. Hathurusingha, meanwhile, cannot be in the players' dressing room at any stage during the Tests, though he may attend the match via other means. He can also continue his coaching duties as normal in between the matches he is suspended for. Gurusinha will face the same penalty as Hathurusingha.

The loss of Chandimal is a substantial blow to Sri Lanka. He averages 52.47 as captain, and had also led Sri Lanka to creditable results in the UAE (against Pakistan), India and Bangladesh. Suranga Lakmal is likely to lead Sri Lanka in his stead.