Sri Lanka v Zimbabwe, 5th ODI, Hambantota July 12, 2017

Hambantota groundstaff stripped of pants, SLC to investigate

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File photo - Given the practice of covering the entire ground in Sri Lanka, a well-staffed temporary groundstaff for international games is the norm © Getty Images

Sri Lanka Cricket has taken a harsh view of the decision to strip Hambantota Stadium groundstaff of their branded SLC trousers - which they had been wearing - following the fifth ODI against Zimbabwe.

The groundstaff had been given SLC uniforms to wear while performing their duties at the venue, but had largely not expected to have to hand the clothing back. Many, however, reported only being paid after handing over their trousers, leaving them in only their underwear. The groundstaff were casual workers hired from the venue's locality.

"They only paid us for our three days worth of work after taking our clothes," one groundsman told Hiru News after being stripped of his trousers. Another said: "They hadn't told us to come prepared with another set of clothes. They asked us to hand over the trousers, so we had no choice but to do that."

Sri Lanka Cricket has since officially apologised to "those subjected to this ignominy" and said that "stern action will be taken against those responsible", following the conclusion of an inquiry. On Wednesday, SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala condemned the decision to take the trousers back from the groundstaff, in strong terms.*

"That was a very low thing that happened," Sumathipala said. "These people come to the ground because of their love of cricket, and to do a service while watching the match. They aren't just there for the money. If rains come, they close up the whole ground within minutes, and then take the covers off again. They are our colleagues, not our slaves. The board didn't know anything about this. We had sent that clothing out to our provincial associations, but hadn't taken a decision to get that clothing back."

As Sri Lanka Cricket has adopted the practice of covering the entire ground in the event of rain, the board usually hires dozens of local workers on a day-wage basis whenever a match is to be played at a nearby venue. Only recently have they required these workers to wear a full uniform.

*This story was updated with Sumathipala's reaction

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vijithaweera on July 16, 2017, 23:13 GMT

    Shame on SLC!! This is what happens when the the admin staff has no common sense. This situation reflects in many places when they blindly follow rules. However, does this means that SLC is so poor that they cannot give the official cloths free to the hiring staff especially when they rehire the same staff or is it those ignorant admin who makes rules?

  • manjula on July 13, 2017, 16:44 GMT

    LOL but why is taking so long to address it.

  • Rayan on July 13, 2017, 13:16 GMT

    LOL-that's all I can say.

  • Raveen on July 13, 2017, 11:56 GMT

    Obviously it's news worthy of reporting. Hopefully there will. E another report of what specific action was taken and what happens. Trust in impartial news coverage.

  •   Barney Trg on July 12, 2017, 21:01 GMT

    To my Lankan bros...from Pakistan ...tis darkest before dawn...I am sure Sri Lanka cricket will bounce back....

  • bimalf7134412 on July 12, 2017, 13:50 GMT

    Its SLC who is caught with its pant down with our performance in Cricket. They should not strip the ground Staff off their pants to cover SLT embarrassment.

  • nonons3687586 on July 12, 2017, 12:04 GMT

    The embarrassment train isn't slowing down for SLC. On the field, the SL women's and men's teams cup of woes runneth over while off the field, the administrators stumble from one disaster to another.

  • hasa on July 12, 2017, 11:42 GMT

    It tells us, how bad SriLankan cricket is at the moment.

  • Ash on July 12, 2017, 11:34 GMT

    Shameful. An action worthy of the Tories.

  • Sallu Riyadhi on July 12, 2017, 8:59 GMT

    Sad for the effected. Action needs to Swift!

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