Durham bubble breach: Gunathilaka, Mendis, Dickwella likely to face long suspensions

Five-member panel recommends Gunathilaka and Mendis be suspended for two years; Dickwella for 18 months

Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis are two of the three cricketers to be penalised  •  AFP/Getty Images

Niroshan Dickwella and Kusal Mendis are two of the three cricketers to be penalised  •  AFP/Getty Images

The three Sri Lanka players whose night out in Durham broke bio-bubble protocols could be in for long suspensions if the recommendations of the committee that investigated the incident are followed. The five-member committee, led by a former Supreme Court judge, has recommended that Danushka Gunathilaka and Kusal Mendis be suspended from international cricket for two years, while Niroshan Dickwella be suspended for 18 months.
Sri Lanka Cricket's executive committee is due to meet on Friday to discuss the inquiry committee's report, after which the players' punishments will be finalised. It seems likely that suspensions will be handed out to all three. According to two board officials, though, it is not yet certain whether the board will be as harsh as the inquirers have suggested.
"It's a very eminent committee that has made these recommendations - a committee that has a former Supreme Court judge - so we will have to take it very seriously," SLC secretary Mohan de Silva told ESPNcricinfo. "But we will be taking the matter up for discussion at the executive committee meeting on Friday."
De Silva did not rule out the possibility the board will consult further with the players involved, or team management, before the final decision on punishments is reached.
It is understood that harsher punishments have been recommended for Gunathilaka and Mendis because of previous disciplinary incidents. Mendis was not officially reprimanded by the board after he had caused the death of a pedestrian while driving back from a wedding in the early morning, in 2020. That accident is understood to have been part of the inquiry panel's reasoning in recommending a two-year suspension, however. Gunathilaka, meanwhile, has already served two suspensions for disciplinary breaches while with the team. Most recently, he had broken curfew in the middle of a Test match in 2018.
Dickwella has not previously drawn official SLC disciplinary charges, nor had he been arrested, as Mendis was after the accident.
Although SLC has not officially handed out any suspensions yet, Sri Lanka's coaching staff has intimated they are not expecting any of these three players will be available for the T20 World Cup this year.

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