Three SL players suspended for bubble breach, to fly back


Sri Lankan cricket suffered a major embarrassment on Monday after three of its players — Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka — were suspended for breaching the teams bio-bubble here on Sunday night.

The three will be flown back home, but it is unlikely the series will be in jeopardy.

The Kusal Perera-led Sri Lanka have lost the T20I series 3-0 and the team strength for the three-match ODI series, commencing here on Tuesday (June 29), will be greatly reduced.

“The players have been suspended pending a full inquiry, but have confessed to having gone out,” Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) vice-president Mohan de Silva told ESPNcricinfo. “They are being recalled from the tour with immediate effect.”

A 30-second video footage surfaced on social media on Monday showing Dickwella and Mendis sitting in a public place without face masks.

Gunathilaka is not visible in the video, but is reported to have stepped out with the duo.

“The players had been told categorically that they were not allowed to go towards Durham’s City Centre, but that is exactly where the trio have admitted to have gone,” according to SLC officials.

Earlier, Sri Lanka team manager Manuja Kariyapperuma was quoted as saying that the issue was being investigated.

Kariyapperuma said the area that Mendis and Dickwella have been seen to be in, in the images does not appear to be in the vicinity of the team hotel in Durham.

On Sunday, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) had announced that ICC match referee Phil Whitticase — who officiated in the three-match T20I series between England and Sri Lanka which concluded on June 26 — had tested positive for Covid-19.

Whitticase, along with seven other officials, will not officiate in the three match ODI series.

“He (Whitticase) will now observe a period of 10-days of self-isolation from 25 June, in accordance with the UK Government’s protocol on quarantine,” ECB stated.

“Seven other members from the match officials and anti-corruption unit teams were deemed close contacts, including five members due to officiate at the first Royal London ODI on Tuesday, June 29, at Emirates Riverside, Durham. Those impacted will have to self-isolate for 10-days until July 7,” ECB added.