Sri Lanka captain Dinesh Chandimal, coach Chandika Hathurusingha, and manager Asanka Gurusinha have admitted to breaching the ICC Code that relates to "conduct that is contrary to the spirit of the game" and could be suspended for two to four Tests, or between four and eight limited-overs internationals.
They were charged with a level 3 offence by ICC chief executive David Richardson, after Sri Lanka refused to take the field on the third morning of the second Test against West Indies in St Lucia and delayed the start of play by two hours. Sri Lanka did this after the on-field umpires had informed them ten minutes before the start of play that they were changing the ball because they suspected its condition had been illegally altered.
"This action was alleged to amount to a serious breach of the Laws of Cricket and to be contrary to the spirit of the game," the ICC said.
The ICC appointed Michael Beloff QC as the Judicial Commissioner to hear the case against Chandimal, Hathurusingha and Gurusinha to determine the appropriate sanction.
Among the points the Sri Lanka camp is likely to make to Beloff is that the entire two-hour delay was not exclusively down to their reluctance to play. It is possible Sri Lanka's team management believe that roughly midway through the scheduled morning session, they felt they had come to an agreement with the match officials, wherein although Chandimal would still have to face a ball-tampering charge at the end of the Test, the officials would refrain from imposing the five-run penalty and changing the ball. In fact, on the basis that there would be no immediate penalties, the Sri Lanka side did take the field at 10:50 am, an hour and 20 minutes past the scheduled start. However, to Sri Lanka's surprise, the umpires changed the ball at this stage. It was at this point that the Sri Lanka team dug in its heels again. They left the field, returning only forty minutes later, to actually start play.
It must be stressed, however, that there is strong disagreement about this sequence of events. There is another suggestion that no deal was actually struck; such a deal, it is felt, would effectively mean there was no charge to be laid, and that umpires were not following playing conditions. In this version of events, the false start is blamed on a misunderstanding between the match officials and the Sri Lanka team.
When play did eventually begin on day three, Sri Lanka Cricket issued a release denying wrongdoing and said they were playing "under protest". The Sri Lanka captain later pleaded not guilty to the charge of ball-tampering, but video footage suggested he had taken something from his pocket, put it in his mouth, and applied saliva to the ball only a few seconds later.
The ICC match referee Javagal Srinath found Chandimal's explanation unsatisfactory and gave him two suspension points - meaning he would miss the third Test against West Indies - and fined him 100% of his match fees. Chandimal, however, appealed the ball-tampering verdict and his case will be heard by Beloff on June 22.
The ICC said Beloff would use Chandimal's appeal hearing to "establish the procedural schedule on the Level 3 charges." A person guilty of a level 3 offence could get between four and eight suspension points.