Three Sri Lankan players were suspended from the Sri Lankan team after they broke protocol and caused a bio-bubble breach to the touring contingent. Kusal Mendis, the vice-captain, Niroshan Dickwella, and Danushka Gunathilaka are alleged to have absconded from their rooms and gone out for a night of fun on Sunday, June 26th.
The action was brought to light after a video was shared on Mendis and Dickwella casually relaxing out in public sharing a smoke. The Sri Lankan officials were caught flat-footed as they also learned of the breach on social media. But, to their credit, they swiftly conducted investigations, where it was established that Gunathilaka was part of this group.
The trio admitted to their wrongdoing, and the Sri Lankan officials immediately cut short their tour and booked their flights to go back home. The players had been expressly forbidden from going to the town of Durham, where COVID is rampant, but they chose to defy that directive. Upon learning of this breach, the Sri Lankan officials confined the players to their rooms and kept them away from any other members of the traveling team and officials.
These suspensions did not affect the schedule of matches, although they substantially weakened the Sri Lankan side. The team was already on a run of poor form, losing three-nil to the home team in the T20Is that was just concluded even though the affected players had underperformed in those games. For Gunathilaka, it was not the first time he ran afoul of regulations, having been penalized in 2017 for indifference to training and breaking curfew during a Test series in 2018.
On June 30th, the Sri Lanka Cricket Board cracked the whip on the trio by slapping them with a one-year ban each. They have currently been placed in mandatory isolation for fourteen days after landing in Sri Lanka. In addition, the SLC may impose more punitive measures in the way of hefty fines once inquiries into the matter are concluded.
This ban means they will miss the T20 World Cup, which will be held in the UAE between September and October this year. These players’ absence means Sri Lanka’s qualification will be on shaky ground as they have to play a qualifying round of matches to gain entry into the Super 12 stage of the ICC T20 World Cup. Sri Lanka did not earn an automatic slot for the Super 12 for the T20 World Cup.
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