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Sri Lanka offspinner Sachithra Senanayake has been banned from bowling in international cricket, after his action was found to be illegal following bio-mechanical assessment in Cardiff.
Senanayake was reported for a suspect action during Sri Lanka's fourth ODI against England at Lord's on May 31, and testing at the end of June found he exceeded the allowed 15-degree flex limit in all four types of his deliveries which were assessed. Among Senanayake's variations from the stock offbreak are a carrom ball and a flipper.
If the bowler is unhappy with how the biomechanical tests were conducted, he now has the option of lodging a notice with the ICC within 14 days, in order to request a hearing with a Bowling Review Group (BRG). A BRG usually includes a human-movement specialist, a former player, a former umpire, a current match referee and two ICC officials.
If Senanayake doesn't appeal the decision, he will have to undergo remedial work on his action before he is allowed to bowl in international cricket again. He had been suspected of an illegal action once before when he had toured England with Sri Lanka A in 2011. But he had worked on his action on that occasion, and been cleared in subsequent tests undertaken at the University of Western Australia.
If he comes back to international cricket and is then reported and then found guilty of having an illegal action again, within two years of his first suspension, Senanayake will be banned from international cricket for a minimum of one year. Though Senanayake has been through the testing process before this occasion, this is his first suspension. Both he and Sri Lanka cricket will however be wary of rushing him back to top-level cricket until thorough remedial work has been undertaken.
Senanayake has been a key component of Sri Lanka's limited-overs success in 2014, often bowling inside the Powerplay overs and presenting significant menace through the middle overs. He had been the top wicket-taker in Sri Lanka's ODI series in England in May and June, and had contributed to World T20 and Asia Cup victories as well. He had an ODI average of 34.82 from 37 appearances, stretching back to early 2012.
The ICC's findings are also a significant blow to Sri Lanka's World Cup preparation, as Senanayake was expected to be Sri Lanka's lead spinner in that competition. He is also on a Category 4 SLC contract, ostensibly until the end of February next year.
Sri Lanka Cricket have a mechanism in place for redressing faulty actions, and a release on Friday evening said Senanayake's case would be referred to the board's cricket committee.