Gros-Islet (Saint Lucia) (AFP) – Play got underway two hours late on the third day of the second Test between the West Indies and Sri Lanka after the tourists initially refused to take the field in the wake of an apparent ball-tampering controversy.
Following concerns raised by umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould about the condition of the ball nearing the end of the second day, the Sri Lankans were advised before the start of Saturday’s play that they could not continue with the existing ball.
This resulted in Sri Lankan 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 Sri Lanka’s first innings total of 253.
Animated discussions then ensued involving match referee Javagal Srinath and the Sri Lankan pair of coach Chandika Hathurusingha and team manager Asanka Gurusinha 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 deliberations that the Sri Lankans agreed to the change of ball and to continue playing although it is understood that they will be contesting any charge of tampering with the ball.
Five penalty runs have been added to the West Indies total.
However, in another twist and after initially appearing to be prepared to resume the match, the Sri Lankans hesitated even as they were making their way out to the middle.
Further discussions then ensued which brought Srinath onto the field while the West Indies contingent, headed by team manager Rawl Lewis, coach Stuart Law and captain Jason Holder, appeared bemused by the entire situation and sought clarification from the match referee.
Unconfirmed reports coming out from these deliberations suggest that the Sri Lankans were reluctant to continue the match under the cloud of suspicion of ball-tampering.
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 illegally 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.