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Sri Lanka refuse to take field in Test 'ball-tampering' row

Saturday, June 16, 2018

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GROS-ISLET, Saint Lucia (AFP) — An apparent ball-tampering controversy has thrown the second Test between the West Indies and Sri Lanka into jeopardy.

After it appeared that a resolution had been reached to allow for play on the third day at the Darren Sammy Stadium in St Lucia to get underway almost 90 minutes later than scheduled, the Sri Lankans first came onto the field.

However, after further discussions with the umpires, the Sri Lankans headed back to the dressing room.

Following concerns raised by umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould about the condition of the ball nearing the end of the second day, Sri Lanka were advised before the start of play on Saturday that they could not continue with the existing ball.

This resulted in Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal refusing to lead his team onto the field with the West Indies set to continue their innings at 118 for two in reply to the tourists' first innings total of 253.

Animated discussions then ensued involving match referee Javagal Srinath and Sri Lanka's coach Chandika Hathurusingha and it appeared for some time that the day's play at least and possibly the rest of the match might be in doubt.

However it was after these initial deliberations that the Sri Lankans agreed to the change of ball and to continue playing although it is understood that they will be contesting the ball-tampering charge.

Five penalty runs have been added to the West Indies total.

There is a precedent for a team refusing to take the field after a brush with the umpires.

The first and only time a match has been forfeited in the history of Test cricket was in 2006, after Pakistan were penalised five runs for ball tampering by umpires Darrell Hair and Billy Doctrove in the fourth Test against England at The Oval.

The Pakistanis did not return to the field after tea on the fourth day and the umpires deemed this to mean they had forfeited the match, even though Pakistan later said they were willing to play.

It was in March that Australia were caught tampering with the ball on the third day of the third Test against South Africa in Cape Town.

Following their admissions of guilt and an investigation, Steve Smith and David Warner were stripped of the captaincy and vice-captaincy respectively and banned from playing international cricket for 12 months.

Opening batsman Cameron Bancroft, the player caught on camera applying sandpaper to the ball, was banned for nine months.

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