Sri Lanka’s cricket administrators are unlikely to impose their own separate sanctions upon Dinesh Chandimal, and remain adamant that there was no intent to tamper with the ball during the St Lucia Test earlier this month. This even though the ICC found Chandimal guilty of the offence.
Chandimal has already served a one-match ban for the tampering, and is likely to receive further punishment over a Spirit of Cricket charge due to the team’s refusal to take the field for two hours on day three. Although sports minister Faiszer Mustapha, under whose oversight SLC is temporarily functioning, said he was “disturbed” by the team’s decision to delay play, he suggested the ICC sanctions alone would be sufficient.
“My aim was not to tamper, and that’s why I appealed against the ICC. I know – and my team-mates know – that I didn’t do anything wrong”
This is in contrast to Cricket Australia’s banning of three players over the tampering incident that occurred in South Africa earlier this year. The circumstances here are different though. Not only is the Sri Lankan cricket establishment taking the view that there was no intent to tamper on Chandimal’s part, there is also little public appetite for Chandimal to be banned for a long time. In fact, there is more public disappointment in the team’s delaying of the game for two hours, than about the tampering itself. In any case, Chandimal is expected to resume leadership of the Sri Lanka Test side the moment his suspensions are served.
“Sri Lanka Cricket and the ministry of sports worked on the premise that Chandimal was innocent,” Mustapha said. ” As you know, when there is adjudication, we have to respect it. Chandimal had allegations made against him, and there was due process. There was a certain order. We appealed against it, and we respect the decision.
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Speaking publicly for the first time since the incident occurred, Chandimal himself said there had been no intent to gain an unfair advantage. “My aim was not to tamper, and that’s why I appealed against the ICC. I know – and my team-mates know – that I didn’t do anything wrong. I can’t control the fact that the ICC has imposed a punishment. So I have to accept that, and play when I next get the chance.”
Chandimal had made the point during the hearings that he had a variety of edible substances – including nuts, but also cough lozenges – and he did not remember which of those he had put into his mouth when television cameras had caught the incident. He now faces the possibility of missing the two forthcoming Tests against South Africa due to the separate Spirit of Cricket charge, to which he, coach Chandika Hathrusingha and manager Asanka Gurusingha have all admitted.
The sports minister said the Sri Lanka team management had been wrong to hold up play in a Test match but was keen to point out mitigating factors. “I met the team and have told them that I am disturbed by the decision of them not going into the field,” Mustapha said. “But because of the camaraderie in this team, and the love that everyone had for Chandimal, they acted emotionally. We also have to think of what kind of mental state they would have had on the field, if they had gone on at the time. They are also people, and a team is like a family.
“But we have to accept that they did was wrong. At no point can we suggest that they did the right thing there. So the case we will make [to the ICC] is that, yes we were emotional and we acted wrongly. But please also think about what kind of mentality we were in when you make the decision.”
Among Sri Lanka’s objections to the initial ball-tampering charge was that it was only conveyed to the team roughly ten minutes before the start of scheduled play on day three.