Sri Lanka unfurl national flag at Lord's against no ball verdict
The Sri Lankan team kicked off a mini-storm at Lord's when they held a Flag protest against one of umpire Rod Tucker's contentious decision on the 4th day of the third test match between Sri Lanka and hosts England. On a day which saw little cricket action on the field due to rain, much of the news was made by the decision of Sri Lankan team's bold decision to unfurl the national flag from the balcony of Lord's.
Sri Lankan pacer Nuwan Pradeep, who had troubled the English batsmen with his in-swingers on the third day, managed to break through the defences of Alex Hales with another in-swinger in the 46th over of the match. But before the bowler could celebrate, Umpire Rod Tucker outstretched his hand to signal a no-ball. The replays, however, suggested that the bowler had his foot marginally behind the line and the umpire had called incorrectly.
Hales was on 58 then and went on to add 36 more to eventually fall for 6 runs short of a maiden Test century. The correct decision would have tilted the match in Sri Lanka's favour as England were leading by just 260 at that stage and Hales' dismissal would have exposed the English tail.
But Tucker's incorrect call meant England would go on to give a daunting target of 362 to Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka have already lost the three-match series and are desperate to go out with a win.
The team management, to express their frustration and to show solidarity with the players on the field, unfurled the national flag on the hallowed balcony of Lord's from their dressing room. The flag was taken down after the management was informed of the MCC's policy about banners and flags in the ground. Coach Graham Ford later explained the rationale behind the stand.
"At that stage, I thought the boys were fighting really hard out there and showing a lot of character, but a few things hadn't gone their way. Putting the flag out was to show a bit of support from the dressing room, try and boost the morale and let them know we're really supporting them. That was the feeling from our lads. We then found out that's not the done thing, and had to take it down. I fully understand that, and it's not an issue at all."
SLC president Thilanga Sumathipala has said the board plans to lodge a complaint with the ICC over Rod Tucker's decision that he described as "unacceptable".
"The management on tour is very sad about that decision and it will be reported to the ICC," he said. Talking about the decision to unfurl the flag, Sumathipala stated, "The flag is a symbol. It is a mark to say we are not happy with the decision. To show solidarity and fight back."
Cricket between the two countries was marred by controversy even on Sri Lanka's last tour to England when in the fifth ODI at Birmingham, off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake had mankanded Jos Buttler.
Also, acrimony between Sri Lankan players and Australian umpires too have a history, going back to Darrel Hair's no balling of Muttiah Muralitharan in Australia in a match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in 1995. Another Australian umpire Ross Emerson also no-balled the highest wicket taker for chucking in 1999 in an ODI in Adelaide.