ICC made serious mistakes to provoke the conduct contrary to spirit of the game – Must warn not suspend Lankans

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on July 10th, the ICC will conduct a hearing to determine the penalty that will be imposed on Chandimal, Hathurusinghe and Gurusinghe, for their conduct contrary to the spirit of the game. The charge for ball tampering against Chandimal has already been heard and Chandimal has been found guilty on appeal as well. As such, that case is now closed. The discussion in this post is specific to the circumstances that lead to the charge that will be heard on the 10th. 

Was Chandimal actually guilty of attempting to alter the condition of the ball?
While the ball tampering case has been closed, since it has been a topic of debate, we will briefly discuss the circumstances under which Chandimal was found guilty. 

Video evidence clearly shows Chandimal taking something out of his pocket and putting it in his mouth, seem to suck on it for at least 4 to 5 se
conds and then applying the contaminated saliva on the ball. Whether or not this sequence of events was a deliberate act of a cheater or an instinctive routine of a cricketer’s on field activities, only Chandimal would know.

Chandimal had admitted to having cough lozenges, which the ICC prohibits applying on the ball, and almonds in his pocket. As such, to the suspicious mind, his actions clearly presented “reasonable doubt”, if not certain guilt, that he attempted to use artificial substance to alter the condition of the ball. If anyone, only Chandimal would know for a fact what he had put in his mouth prior to the incident. In his defense Chandimal stated that he could not recall exactly what he put in his mouth at that particular moment. As such, the ICC could not have proven his guilt “beyond any reasonable doubt”. The fact that the Sri Lanka Cricket’s legal team lost the appeal suggests that either their defense was weak or that the law only required that the ICC show “reasonable doubt”.

The remainder of this discussion is specific to the events that lead to the charge "conduct contrary to the spirit of the game".

What exactly does the law state specific to ball tampering penalty
41.3.4 If the umpires consider that the condition of the ball has been unfairly changed by a member or members of either side, they shall ask the captain of the opposing side if he/she would like the ball to be replaced.  If necessary, in the case of the batting side, the batsmen at the wicket may deputies for their captain. If a replacement ball is requested, the umpires shall select and bring into use immediately, a ball which shall have wear comparable to that of the previous ball immediately prior to the contravention.

There is very little ambiguity in the rules specific to sections 41.3.4 and Any reasonable person would interpret these sections of the law as follows:
1.       In order to replace the ball, the umpires must consider that the condition of the ball as been unfairly changed
2.       The replacement ball must be brought into use immediately and must be comparable to that of the previous ball immediately prior to the contravention
Umpires and the match referee made serious mistakes in applying the law to this situation
The alleged offense took place during the second afternoon of the match. Both umpires were seen speaking to and inquiring from Chandimal and Dhananjaya De Silva about the methods they were using to polish the ball. Both umpires were seen closely inspecting the condition of the ball for potential tampering. Yet, the umpires did not find the condition of the ball to have been unfairly changed and did not take any action to replace the ball.  

However, on the third morning of the match, the umpires and the ICC delivered what turned out to be a bigger no-ball than any of the countless no-balls they failed to call during the series! In addition to bringing ball tampering charges against Chandimal, that too just 10 minutes before the start of play, the umpires also decided to change the ball and impose a five-run penalty.  

Not only did the ICC accuse the Sri Lankan captain of cheating without presenting any evidence to support it at the time, they also decided to change the ball that they alleged was tampered during the previous afternoon, but they themselves did not deem to be unfairly changed during the numerous times they inspected it. 
The umpires did not consider the condition of the ball to be unfairly changed during or at the end of the second day’s final session. The ball had been in the umpire’s custody overnight. How on earth then did the ball turn up on the third morning looking unfairly changed? Unless the unfairly changed condition was detected closer to the wrongful act, how could the umpires have found a replacement ball that is “comparable to that of the previous ball immediately prior to the contravention”?

The umpires and the ICC certainly had the right to inform the Sri Lankan’s that they have evidence to believe that Chandimal attempted to alter the condition of the ball. And that they will hold an inquiry at the end of the third day or the match, to decide on the final outcome and possible penalty. However, given the ICC’s own rules and the circumstances, they had no right to change the ball nor impose a five-run penalty.

The recent Australian ball tampering/sandpapering episode provides a perfect example of how the ball changing and five-run penalty is applied (or not). While umpires suspected and questioned Australian players during play, at no point did they deem the ball’s condition as having been unfairly changed. When they eventually had conclusive video evidence showing ball tampering, the umpires in this match did not change the ball nor impose a five-run penalty because they had not previously deemed the ball to have been unfairly changed!

Reaction of the Sri Lankan team was understandable and the time lost was not entirely their fault
Faced with not just an embarrassing accusation, but also a wrongful, unlawful and incomprehensible punishment, the Sri Lankan management had all the right to take the time to digest, consult, decide and react. They had the right to ask for explanations, interpretations, clarifications and options from the umpires and the match referee.

Not only were the Sri Lakan’s being embarrassed and wrongfully accused of having unfairly changed the condition of a ball that looked fine enough to the umpires at the end of the previous day, but were now also being put in a situation of disadvantage from the point of view of the match as a result of the ball change and five-run penalty.

While almost two hours were lost, not all of it was Sri Lanka’s fault. The ICC match referee apparently spent a considerable amount of that time going back and forth seeking guidance from the ICC.

Admittedly, the Sri Lankan’s could have acted differently. They could have accepted the umpire’s decision and opted to play even under protest, but with the knowledge that they could still appeal all accusations at a later time. In a perfect world, yes, they are guilty!  However, the umpires and the match referee along with his ICC advisors made several mistakes, poor judgment and bad decisions in this situation. Even the most reasonable, calm and patient individuals would have reacted irrationally faced with the circumstances the Lankans were presented with. As such, it would only be fair that the Sri Lanka trio be spared of any suspension.


Anonymous's picture

Around 70 years ago, a famous singer, late Lakshi Bhai sang about this ICC-umpire-bullying & about SL betrayals: “Pita deepa desha jayagathaa,……Kalu suddha, dhata niyawanna…”. She implied that foreign intimidators won and local betrayals kiss their butt. As pointed out already: 1) It was a non-violent protest against not following proper procedure for filing charges against SL players, and again, not a tactic to stage a ‘2-hour delay’. 2) No tampering substance was uncovered. If it was Almond, then it is not a tampering substance (unlike sticky Gatorade that brings into field). Simply, the Ball was not unfairly or deliberately changed by Dinesh. Then if it changed naturally, awarding 5-run was unsubstantiated. 3) Delay was caused by both SL and ICC umpires. Umpires engaged in discussion with SL as well as ICC. 4) Based on these facts, ICC hearing about Dinesh was a mistrial and injured dignified Dinesh’s reputation. ICC corruption goes strong and undefeated (disgusting) and heading for another easy win on July 10 against guiltless SL, but fully tamed by peer pressure?

Confused's picture
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20 June 2018
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3 min 21 sec

This is not an informed conclusion purely because the author has 1) merely gathered the basic facts from what was widely reported including viewing the video footage; 2) looked up the relevant ICC Code of Conduct Rules & Regs; 3) and made his argument accordingly. The result therefore I'm sorry to say is half-baked.

If the author wanted to seriously challenge the verdict, then he needed make his points based on QC Michael Beloff's Judgment in full. And had he done this, it may have saved him a lot of time making his own case.

Beloff's Judgment can be found here - https://www.icc-cricket.com/about/cricke...

Note - Chandimal's breach & penalty details appears at the top of the page. At the bottom of this wording is a link to the full judgment in PDF.

Anonymous's picture

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Mykuhl's picture

I'm absolutely astounded that anyone would even try to justify the work decision to take the players off the field.

The umpires re-looked at the ball after seeing the footage, decided there was evidence that the ball's condition had changed and so acted appropriately.

Stormy's picture
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15 January 2011
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15 hours 26 min

Guys, we are passed trying to work out who is wrong and right - SLC has already admitted to wrong doing and pleading for leniency so lets not sit around tearing this apart anymore. Fingers crossed none of the 3 would get banned for the SA series and again, the law as it stands could see all 3 getting banned for the whole series. It would be a case of standing up at the wrong time as Confused put it very nicely in a previous read which I still can't stop laughing about!!

Sanjeev Bernard Fernando's picture
Member since:
25 January 2013
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8 weeks 6 days

Stormy and Confused – I fully agree with and accept your points. Perhaps the point I was trying to make in this post was either misunderstood, or I did a pathetic job of making the point. Let’s assume the latter is true since you both are very intelligent individuals. My post had nothing to do with the charge against Chandimal, ball tampering. Yes, the case is done and dusted! Chandimal is guilty of tampering with the ball! The focus of my discussion was the impending hearing on Conduct Contrary to Spirit of the game. Again, here too, we can all agree THEY ARE GUILTY and have pleaded as such also!!! The here again, there is no question as to whether the trio is guilty or not. But what is left to be determined is, HOW MUCH ARE THEY GUILTY? Enough to be given a harsh penalty? Or escape with a warning? This is of little significance when it comes to the coach. He can and will still coach from next door, if not from the dressing room. But this decision has serious consequences with respect to Chandimal. Thus my interest.

Correct me if I missed it after reading the judgment as per the link provided by confused. I thought the judge acknowledges that the umpires DID NOT FIND THE CONDITION OF THE BALL TO HAVE BEEN CHANGED, even after numerous inspections on day two. I also interpreted the rules to say that “the ball would only be changed and a five run penalty imposed, if the umpires deemed the condition of the ball had been unfairly changed”. If I am right on both, then “would not the umpires have been WRONG to change the ball on the morning of day 3”, after it was deemed fine throughout the previous afternoon, especially after the alleged incident approximately around 2:43? Assuming I am correct, my point is that the Lankans had all the right to be very upset.

Also, I see that the judge stated that the Lankans did not take the field for 2 hours. However, the Lankan management will argue (and why shouldn’t we believe them rather than to dismiss them?) that they did not take 2 hours, but only presented the umpires and match referee a set of questions, and that it was the match referee who needed a lot of time to get back to them. The Lankans will also argue that their unwillingness to promptly accept the tampering verdict and take to the field was because, the decision that the ball was changing along with 5 penalty runs was also conveyed at the same time, which is what prompted the Lankans reaction. They will also argue that after going back and forth, an agreement was made NOT to change the ball and all parties agreed to start play, but upon taking the field, they were again hit with that charge, prompting their ‘understandable reaction’ to further delay the start.

So in summary, based on what I hear from reliable inside sources: 1) Lananks accepted the charge of conduct contrary to spirt of game 2) Lankan’s wish to make a case that shows ICC did not apply the ball changing and fine run penalty rule in a manner consistent with how they had done it in the past, i.e. SA vs Aus sand-paper incident 3) It was the confusion and frustration that resulted from this inconsistent ICC standard that lead Lankan’s to act irrationally 4) while accepting the blame and the fact that irrespective of the circumstances, they could still have acted better, the Lankans will ask the ICC to spare the captain from harsh penalty because it was primarily the management that dictated terms that AM.

The purpose of the blog was to highlight the above. After your educated feedback, I do see that I could have done better research and presented this differently, including the title. :)

cricexp's picture
Member since:
14 March 2015
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27 min 55 sec

@ Sanjeev Bernard - There are some people who only trust what foreign media says (specially sudda) if it's written by local godaya they don't care, what they say is "there is a law written in books, umpires and ICC says Chandimal has done something wrong so he is wrong, otherwise why ICC would convict the guy? ICC know the law, they will never do anything wrong". You don't have to convince those category because luckily there's only just about 10% minority of that, If we had gone by that attitude we would never have Murali the legend in cricketing records. Kusal Perera would have gone forever. Anybody who have common sense would understand that nobody can prove Chandimal did anything wrong looking at the video. If it was the almond he is not guilty if it was the sweet he is guilty but how do you exactly confirm he had the sweet at that time frame? That is ridiculous. I can't believe some people still support the umpires.

Confused's picture
Member since:
20 June 2018
Last activity:
3 min 21 sec

Thanks for the response Sanjeev. We've all had our say and I'm now just looking forward to some good, competitive cricket against South Africa. Cheers

Anonymous's picture

Important facts for July 10th ICC Hearing:

Please, replace, ICC overlooked, cricket leather ball polish, plain saliva that not tainted with food residue, AKA spit which is typically made of 98% water, and ball tampering substances [mostly mucus membrane protein]. Use a piece of cloth with polishes that manufacturer already used to polish the leather ball as a temporary solution. Or as a last resort, players should be restricted to shine the ball on their own cloths (pans & shirts) but without saliva. Please, BAN SPIT-POLISHING. Be sanitary and well-mannered for sake of kids watching cricket all over the world. Make sense for not restricting what players allow to eat as long as saliva (human mucus) application on ball is prohibited.

Ball tampering inquiries can only be made during the game…not after the session is over. Video evidence can be used as supplementary evidence…No ball tampering allegations should be allowed based on solely video evidence.

Please, train head umpire to use proper communication techniques (crucial conversation techniques). Document all minutes of the issue: the evidence of issue, conversation with teams as well as ICC, & agreement by all parties. So that there will be no surprises after walking to the pitch.

First, reprimand head umpire for give out penalties & fines based on superficial evidence (assumptions). However, two umpires in the field should be excused for making human errors. Player or team is not guilty after plead ‘not guilty’, until the hearing proved guilty. Suspensions and fine become effective only after hearing proved guilty. In simple words, stop ‘MATCH FIXING BY HEAD UMPIRE’. SL barely overcame from this plot in 3rd test.

ICC, please, start paying remunerations for violations of head umpires (not following proper procedure & conversation, making hefty fines for superficial allegations, defamation of character of player). If not, at least, make a pardon for the spirit of sport.

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