Lanka's swift action worth emulating

To a few, the internal enquiry established in the wake of Suraj Randiv’s no-ball, and the subsequent sanctions announced by SLC, might appear an over-reaction. SLC, and skipper Kumar Sangakkara, however, have always advocated playing the game in the right spirit; through its actions of the last two days, SLC has shown that its commitment to adhering to the spirit of the game is no empty boast.

Questions have been raised about the lack of severity of the punishment imposed on Tillakaratne Dilshan, perhaps not without merit. A senior member who has spent more than a decade in international cricket and who briefly led the country earlier this year, the maverick opener should have known better than to advise a young man in his first full season at the highest level to intentionally bowl a no-ball at Virender Sehwag, on 99 with one required for victory.

Particularly given his misdemeanours of the recent past that are now under intense scrutiny, Dilshan can count himself singularly lucky to have got away with just losing his entire match fee (US $3500). The impressionable Randiv, 25, has had to pay a heavier price – a one-match suspension to go with a like fine – more because at this early stage of his career, SLC felt, he must find out the hard way that there is little to be gained by cutting corners.

The Marylebone Cricket Club, responsible for the Laws of Cricket, had for long believed that the game should be played in accordance with its traditional 'spirit', apart from within its laws. Since the introduction of the 2000 Code, the Spirit of Cricket Preamble has been an important feature of the laws of the game.

Two former MCC members and England captains, Ted Dexter and Colin Cowdrey, sought to include the ‘Spirit of Cricket’ in the game’s laws in the late ’90s, primarily to remind players of their responsibility to ensure that cricket was always played in true, sportsmanlike manner. A preamble on the Spirit of Cricket, as incorporate in the laws in 2000, reads, “Cricket is a game that owes much of its unique appeal to the fact that it should be played not only within its Laws but also within the Spirit of the Game. Any action which is seen to abuse this Spirit causes injury to the game itself.”

That’s precisely what Sangakkara was alluding to when he said, “Winning and losing are part of the game. The manner in which you play the game and the manner in which you present yourself on and off the field are also important. It’s not just Sri Lanka, it’s the responsibility of all cricketers of the world. This incident was unfortunate, but Sri Lankan cricket can’t take sole proprietorship of all unsavoury incidents. “All sides have gone through such incidents, including India. This unfortunately seems to be newsworthy at the moment, but we have taken the responsibility for the actions in the middle.”
Time to put no-ballgate behind us, then, and to move on. Hopefully, the experienced Dilshan and the young Randiv will come out of this episode stronger and wiser.

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