Suspended Head Cricket Coach Chandika Hathurusingha has strongly criticised Sri Lanka Cricket’s (SLC) handling of the ball-tampering incident in 2018 in the West Indies where he along with captain Dinesh Chandimal and manager Asanka Gurusinha were given the maximum possible punishment under existing laws.
They got eight suspension points by independent Judicial Commissioner Michael Beloff, QC, amounting to two Test and four limited-over match bans, after all three had pleaded guilty to a level-three offence of “conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game”. They had refused to take to the field on the third day of the second Test against West Indies after the umpires informed Chandimal he was charged with ball-tampering.
However, responding to a show cause letter issued by SLC in its continued attempt to make him quit, Hathurusingha – who has an ironclad contract in his favour – says he was “urged to plead guilty to the charges” by the SLC. The Head Coach has been charged with six counts including failing to prepare the Sri Lanka team physically and mentally for tours; failing to build confidence of players in need to [sic] support; for creating disharmony and failure to build team spirit; failure to adhere to the ICC’s Code of Conduct; insubordination; and acting in a manner which is totally unbecoming of a National Head Coach.
“The entire inquiry was handled by SLC and SLC decided not to contest the said matter and accordingly I was urged to plead guilty to the charges,” he wrote to SLC CEO Ashley de Silva in a 12-page reply to the letter which was issued in a bid to terminate his contract prematurely. “Further the lawyer in the statement of defence prepared by them on 21.06.2018 has admitted the charges. The said admission had been done on the instigation of SLC and its lawyers. Due to the said admission ICC inquiry panel has not entertained any defence put forward by us. The ICC ruling is very clear on that matter.”
SLC has charged Hathurusingha of conducting himself in contrary to the spirit of the game during the Test match played against the West Indies in St. Lucia during the said tour, resulting in breach of Clause 7(c) of his fixed-term contract with SLC. He was hired in January 2018 for a three-year contract but is suspended without pay since September 24. Both parties have failed to find a way out to the current impasse.
“Therefore, it is very unrealistic, unfair and unethical for SLC to hold the outcome of the ICC proceeding against me,” he adds. “If there is any disrepute brought to the game, it is purely due to the weak defence that was taken up at the said inquiry on the instructions of SLC.”
Chandimal was charged during the Test in St Lucia after video evidence indicated he was taking sweets out from his pocket and putting them in his mouth before applying saliva to the ball within the space of a few seconds. Hathurusingha wrote that Sri Lanka had protested after the Umpires had decided to award five penalty runs and change the ball, contrary to what had been promised by the Match Referee. Earlier, the Match Referee had agreed not to change the ball.
“In fact after the said day’s play, the match referee had an inquiry in the presence of the umpire, captain, manager and myself. The said inquiry proceedings were recorded by me after informing the match referee. The said recording clearly established that we were defending ourselves citing the correct process which was not followed by the match referee and the umpires. Before the ICC inquiry I repeatedly informed the SLC that the said recording was sent via e-mail to the CEO of SLC but the lawyers who appeared were instructed by SLC and the lawyers briefed by the SLC had failed to disclose the said recording in their statement of defence. At the time of ICC inquiry when SLC lawyers tried to produce the said recording it was rejected on the basis that the said recording was not disclosed originally in the statement of defence,” the letter reads.
Hathurusingha has answered six charges at length. He has rejected all of them and accused his employer of engaging in fishing expeditions to get rid of him halfway through the contract. Though he is yet to be fired, SLC has concluded negotiations with Mickey Aurthur to replace him at the top while several other foreigners have lined up to fill the remaining vacancies in the national team management.