Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal and coach Chandika Hathurusingha have been suspended for four ODIs, in addition to the two Tests they are already sitting out, after receiving the maximum possible punishment for their spirit of cricket offence. Team manager Asanka Gurusinha also receives the same sanction.
Following a ball-tampering row, the trio had been charged with the level 3 offence over Sri Lanka’s refusal to take the field on day three in the second Test in St Lucia last month, a refusal that resulted in a delay of roughly two hours. Although they had pleaded guilty, and made the case that the entirety of the delay was not their fault, and that ICC match officials had failed to follow correct protocol, judicial commissioner Michael Beloff has imposed the harshest possible sentence, of eight suspension points. This is the severest sanction the ICC has handed out since the demerit points system was introduced in September 2016.
Six demerit points have also been added to the records of all three men, which, for Chandimal, brings his demerit point tally to 10, having received four demerit points over the original ball-tampering offence. This means Chandimal is on very thin ice for the next 24 months. If he collects two further demerit points – for anything from slow over rate, to a breach of the code of conduct – he will be suspended for a further three Tests, or six limited-overs internationals, or a combination of the two depending on the schedule.
Although he is suspended, Chandimal is allowed to be in the dressing room through the Tests and the forthcoming ODIs against South Africa, though he is not allowed to enter the playing area at any stage. Hathurusingha, meanwhile, can continue to do his job as normal in between matches, but has no access to the dressing room or playing area on match days. He can, however, enter the stadium and watch the game from elsewhere (such as from a president’s box).
Chandimal had captained Sri Lanka in their most-recent ODI – in the tri-series final in Dhaka, in January – but is not the official ODI captain – that is Angelo Mathews. It is in the second Test, which starts on Friday, that Sri Lanka are likely to consider Chandimal’s absence a greater loss. They have, however, won both the Tests he has already been suspended for (he missed the final Test against West Indies, too, on the ball-tampering charge, before the spirit of cricket proceedings began).
Sri Lanka had hoped for a much more lenient sentence, with the board expressing regret, and Chandimal publicly expressing remorse over refusing to take the field, labelling that decision an “emotional” one. The hearing had gone on for over five hours, in which Sri Lanka had made the case that although they were guilty of breaching the spirit of cricket, the circumstances that led to that breach were exceptional, but Beloff did not buy this argument.