Sri Lanka Cricket backs players in ball-change controversy

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka,  CMC – Sri Lanka cricket authorities have thrown their support behind their team in the ball-change controversy that marred the third day of the second Test against West Indies, and have vowed to “take all necessary steps to defend any player”, unfairly accused of any wrongdoing.

Match officials changed the ball and awarded West Indies five penalty runs over their concern about the suspected altered condition of the ball, prompting the visitors’ refusal to take the field at the start of play at the Darren Sammy Cricket Ground.

Play eventually got underway around 11:30 am (Eastern Caribbean time) after Sri Lanka team management consulted with SLC, and the visitors took the field and continued the match “under protest.”

“The team management has informed us that Sri Lankan players have not engaged in any wrongdoing during the ongoing Test match played between Sri Lanka and West Indies,” a statement from SLC said.

“The team on the third day of the match protested a decision taken by the umpires citing ‘changing the condition of the ball.’

“SLC advised the team to take the field to ensure the continuity of the match and wish to commend the decision taken by the team to continue with the game ‘under protest’ to ensure the upholding of the spirit of the game.”

The statement also said that Sports Minister Faiszer Musthapa, along with SLC chief executive, Ashley de Silva, and head of international cricket, Chandima Mapatuna, all assured the team management that they would “take all necessary steps to defend any player, in the event any inwarranted allegation is brought against a member of the team.”

“SLC reiterated its commitment to adhering to the laws of the game and upholding the spirit of the game. SLC stands firm in our commitment to protect the dignity of the national cricketers at all times.”

The start of play on Saturday was delayed until 10:50 am when the Sri Lanka players took the field along with the Windies batsmen, only for the visitors to walk off before a ball was bowled.

They remained just beyond the boundary in discussions with team management, while match officials also huddled in conference.

Players eventually returned to the field half-hour before the scheduled lunch interval, with the morning session extended until 12:30 pm.

Cricket’s governing body, the ICC, tweeted that any disciplinary issues would be addressed at the end of play.

“The ICC can confirm the match officials in the second Test between West Indies and Sri Lanka changed the ball and awarded 5 penalty runs to West Indies,” the ICC tweeted.

“If there are any, Code of Conduct charges will follow as per usual at close of play.”

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