Sri Lanka in England 2014 June 19, 2014

No involvement in reporting Senanayake - Cook


Alastair Cook has denied suggestions that the England camp played any part in Sri Lanka spinner Sachithra Senanayake being reported as having a suspected illegal bowling action.

Senanayake was the top wicket-taker as Sri Lanka defeated England in the ODI section of the tour but has subsequently been obliged to report to Cardiff for independent testing on his bowling action after it was reported by the ICC's match officials during the fourth ODI at Lord's.

That provoked resentment within the Sri Lankan camp, with the relationship between the sides deteriorating further when Jos Buttler, as the non-striking batsman, was run out by Senanayake, the bowler, in the final ODI at Edgbaston; a rare instance of 'Mankading' in the modern game.

Cook, England's Test and ODI captain, said that while "concerns were raised" upon seeing Senanayake's action on TV, no one within the team or the team management had attempted to bring this to the match officials' notice.

"We as players have no power to report anyone," Cook said. "It's directly down to the umpires and the match referee. I know that for a fact. So we can't say anything, it's down to the ICC and the umpires on the day.

"Concerns were raised just by watching TV. I think everyone saw his action and I think concerns were raised; you only had to watch TV and see that."

No one in the Sri Lanka camp has named the person, or persons, within either the England team or the ECB, who they suspect took the issue to the match officials. But suspicion of the opposition and board lingers.

Adding to this mistrust, indirectly, is the fact that Paul Farbrace, now England's assistant coach, had rated Senanayake highly as a long-format spinner during his tenure with the Sri Lanka team. Some within Sri Lanka's cricket establishment continue to believe this may have helped make Senanayake a ripe target.

It was also reported, in both Sri Lankan and English media, that Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman, complained to the ICC when Angelo Mathews suggested someone in English cricket had influenced the match officials, in an interview with BBC's Sinhala service.

"When you travel to some parts of the world and people find a certain bowler difficult to handle they tend to report," Mathews said.

While Cook was unable to confirm that no one within the ECB had complained about Senanayake's action - "I don't know within the ECB at all," he said - the intervention of SLC secretary, Nishantha Ranatunga, appeared to confirm that, at administrative level at least, Sri Lanka held no such concerns.

In a letter to the sports editor of a Sri Lankan newspaper - seen by ESPNcricinfo - Ranatunga praised Clarke as "a pillar of strength to the Cricket in Sri Lanka and it's [sic] growth unconditionally" and requested a clarification be printed to correct any suggestion that Clarke had interfered in the matter.

"Mr. Giles Clarke as the Chairman of ECB is heading the policy-making body and does not get involved with any operational aspects of such matters," Ranatunga wrote.

While England may have reservations about Senanayake, Cook confirmed that Moeen Ali had not been asked to refrain from bowling a doosra in the first Test at Lord's. Moeen, England's offspinning allrounder, has started to utilise the delivery quite frequently at county level - he bowled four in his four-over spell in a recent T20 match between Worcestershire and Lancashire - and it was something of a surprise that he did not bowl one in the first Test at Lord's.

"No, Moeen has not been asked not to bowl it," Cook said, "because you don't have to bowl a doosra by throwing it."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo; Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Lasitha on June 24, 2014, 5:39 GMT

    @C0l0mb0 No way mate, ECB is no CA. ECB can't think out of the box. See how ECB handled the KP issue.

  • Kari on June 20, 2014, 19:15 GMT

    @YorkshirePudding It's not as easy as you might think - they use real match footage to compare the bowling action in the lab to the one on the field. :)

    @naamprik, like YorkshirePudding has explained, it't not how much the arm is 'bent' - it's how much that 'bend' changes from the degree it was at shoulder level to the point of delivery i.e. the FLEX. So you can't determine whether one's bowling action is legal or not by looking at a picture. :)

    Like a lot of people have said, at least he will have a job with ECB later in his life... #Murali

  • Suranga on June 20, 2014, 14:56 GMT

    Now I know for sure, Senanayaka will be England future spin coach. Congrats man ..u already hv a job after retired from cricket.

  • Jason on June 20, 2014, 14:01 GMT

    @naamprik, its not the bend that's the problem its the amount that it straightens during delivery.

    The biggest problem is that lab and on field conditions are different so its easy to get through a test session in a lab without over flexing, in a game it isn't so easy. But measuring flex in real time is an issue.

  • Hareendra on June 20, 2014, 12:00 GMT

    I think Senanayake being reported should not cause a rift between the two teams. The match officials followed protocol, so there is no need for anyone to complain. Its a straight forward matter and should be dealt in such away. Period.

  • Trevor on June 20, 2014, 11:12 GMT

    Can anyone look at the photograph and tell me the arm is not bent significantly? In fact if you measure the angle it is around 25 degrees. A wee bit more than 15 degrees, no? Senanayake doesn't have the excuse of a permanently bent arm, unlike some others. And please don't blame this on England or Cook. Arjuna Ranatunga said that he felt happy the process of reporting by a panel of match officials rather than an individual umpire. If the process is ok with Arjuna, who is not a shrinking violet, then why is anyone else proposing the conspiracy theories?

  • Lakpriya on June 20, 2014, 7:43 GMT

    In 8-10 years time what if England pick Sachithara as their spin consultant for a sub-continent tour. Just like Aus did with Murali. stranger things could happen in life.

  • Mark on June 20, 2014, 7:32 GMT

    Too right the "Senanayake" issue was nothing to do with England but with ICC match officials. I have had tried to comment on this before stating I believe his action is fine, but independent officials came to a different conclusion in one match. Finally with regards the whole Doosra issue, this has always contentious in Australia and NZ, yet the England bashers seem to think otherwise. Just read Stephen Fleming's autobiography as one example, and think back to Murali's troubles in Australia.

  • Owen on June 20, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    @InternationalCricketFollower - I'm glad you brought that up. Even though it wasn't the point of the article and the author was neither defending nor attacking it, the word 'mankading' was mentioned, so of course your comment needed to be said. Whilst it is true that over the past few weeks only a small handful of people have been complaining about the incident, it is still a small handful too many and so we must stamp them out by repeatedly making the same points over and over again every time mankading is mentioned. Keep up the good work

  • Tom on June 20, 2014, 6:00 GMT

    It's not hard to imagine what Cook thinks of how his opposite number has handled this issue.

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