Chandimal pleads not guilty to ball-tampering

Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal has denied charges of attempting to change the condition of the ball during the ongoing second Test against West Indies in St Lucia*. By not pleading guilty to the charge laid by the ICC for “changing the condition of the ball”, Chandimal will attend a hearing by match referee Javagal Srinath after the conclusion of the Test.

The ICC release on Sunday also stated: “The officials laid the charge after television footage from the final session’s play on Friday appeared to show the Sri Lanka captain taking sweets out from his left pocket and putting these in his mouth, before applying the artificial substance to the ball which the umpires viewed as an attempt to change its condition.”

The video evidence will be used in the hearing which will also be attended by the match officials as well as the Sri Lankan team management. The charges had been laid by on-field umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould, and third umpire Richard Kettleborough on Saturday. The charge constitutes a breach under Article 2.2.9 of the ICC’s code of conduct, which deals with altering the condition of the ball by “unfair” means.

In a pre-emptive move on Saturday evening, Sri Lanka Cricket issued a media release saying it would defend any “unwarranted allegation” against any player. “The team management has informed us that Sri Lankan players have not engaged in any wrongdoing,” the release said. “SLC shall take all necessary steps to defend any player, in the event any unwarranted allegation is brought against a member of the team.”

The SLC’s statement came after Srinath awarded five runs to West Indies in Gros Islet on the third morning, having laid down an initial charge of altering the condition of the ball on Sri Lanka.

These actions resulted in a drama-filled morning in Gros Islet; Chandimal’s men had refused to take the field and, when the match eventually resumed after a two-hour delay, SLC pointed out that the players were continuing with the game “under protest”.

It is understood that what raised tempers in the Sri Lanka camp was that the match officials had informed Chandimal that they were going to change the ball about 10 minutes before the start of play on day three.

Three other players were recently charged by the ICC under the same article of the code of conduct: Cameron Bancroft (2018), Dasun Shanaka (2017) and Faf du Plessis (2016). Shanaka’s charge means this is the second time in two years that Sri Lanka have found themselves part of a controversy over the condition of the ball.

Following the Bancroft incident, which resulted in three Australian players being handed lengthy bans by their own board, the ICC decided to consider severe sanctions against ball tampering. The ICC’s cricket committee deliberated on raising the penalty for ball tampering to a Level 3 offence from the existing Level 2 classification, and they could come into effect soon. (Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)

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