SLC hopeful ICC will cover Perera case expenses
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) could not rule out further legal action after the ICC withdrew its charges against wicketkeeper-batsman Kusal Perera, board president Thilanga Sumathipala said. SLC is unlikely to initiate a lawsuit against the ICC, but was hopeful that the funds expended in clearing Perera will be covered by the governing body. The Qatar-based lab whose findings led to Perera's five-month suspension will also come under scrutiny.
"We have to definitely get our costs back," Sumathipala said. "By that I mean the direct costs. The indirect costs are colossal. So we will discuss that separately."
Sumathipala said the board had spent at least 13 million rupees (approx. USD 92,000) on the case. This included the money spent on a polygraph test on Perera, a hair analysis commonly used in forensics and a separate urine test, the results of which all helped leverage Perera's case and bought his legal team time. SLC had also paid for the consultation of UK-based Morgan Sports Law firm, during the challenge on the lab's findings.
Sumathipala said the board would discuss the matter with Perera and the nation's sports ministry before any further action is decided upon.
"We got the hard part right and now we have a definite claim, now that we have proved our player is innocent," Sumathipala said. "I'm sure Sri Lanka Cricket will go forward and discuss with ICC. We can't sour the relationship also. If the sports minister has a directive that is separate, we want to discuss that as well. Definitely the player has a claim."
Sumathipala also likened the results of Perera's case to Muttiah Muralitharan's campaign to have his action, and later his doosra, cleared by the ICC. On that occasion, Muralitharan's action proved a catalyst for further scientific testing, which ultimately led to a landmark change in the ICC's playing conditions - specifically, 15 degrees of flexion was deemed legal, as almost all bowlers were found to straighten their arms.
In addition to consulting local and foreign legal teams, SLC and Perera's management also approached chemical pathologists and independent lab operators for their views.
"We decided to go the scientific route," Sumathipala said. "We have seen SLC do the same thing in the past with the straightening of the arm issue. We did it after Murali was no-balled in Boxing Day 1995. Then we did it again when the doosra was banned. Once we concluded that route, we were that much stronger with the ICC.
"Prompted by our scientific evidence, we have taken the ICC to a different level about how they should process this kind of situation in the future. We're happy about that. We've taken an approach that we're not sure anyone has taken in the past. We were very happy."
Sumathipala said the board believed in Kusal from the outset. His board had initially set aside five million rupees to fight the case, but that figure was repeatedly revised upwards.
"We spoke about this at the board and we decided that we trusted him, and that he was telling the truth. We decided to represent him as best we can. We thought that we would be able to get him cleared, so we set aside 15 million rupees to spend on him, which is unprecedented for this board."
Perera is eligible for selection for Sri Lanka with immediate effect, but the selectors have not yet decided whether to add him to the Test squad currently in England.
Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando