Cricket acrimony as England point finger at Sri Lanka

Bowler Senanayake under fire over controversial run-out and 'suspect' bowling action

Senanayake and Sri Lanka team in cricket game against England
(Image credit: ANDREW YATES/AFP/Getty Images)

English cricket is once again mired in acrimony after the first one-day series under new coach Peter Moores ended with the controversial run out of Jos Buttler, a row over the bowling action of Sri Lankan spinner Sachithra Senanayake and the prospect of a bad-tempered Test series to come.

Sri Lanka were set a target of 220 to win the match and the series, and did so with six wickets and ten balls to spare.

Controversy erupted during England's innings when batsman Jos Buttler was run out by Senanayake as he backed up at the non-striker's end. England's batsmen had twice been warned in Senanayake's previous over and when Buttler moved out of his ground in the 44th over the bowler stopped his run up and took the bails off.

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The divisive method of dismissal is known as 'Mankading' after the Indian bowler who used it against Australia in 1947 and, says The Guardian, "always provokes debate about the spirit of cricket".

England captain Alistair Cook was angry not just at Senanayake but also his opposite number, touring skipper Angelo Mathews, for not calling Buttler back. He called it "a pretty poor act" and said it was "not the way to do things". Coach Moores added he was "disappointed".

Sri Lanka, though, were unrepentant. Mathews said that Buttler had been "taking starts" in the previous match at Lords and had been warned twice by the bowler.

The Senanayake run out came after the bowler had his action reported in the previous ODI, and veteran Sri Lankan batsmen Mahela Jayawardene pointedly noted afterwards that one of the umpires involved was English. "When teams are struggling to play certain bowlers it comes our way," he said.

Mathews made his thoughts clear when he "celebrated the six-wicket victory by miming a bowling action with a deliberately straight arm in the direction of the Sri Lanka dressing room", reports the Guardian.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan spotted a link between the two events. "What I saw is a bowler, Senanayake, who feels aggrieved about having his action reported," he writes in the Daily Telegraph, but believes "the incident reflects poorly on the Sri Lanka team and Sachithra Senanayake".

Not so, says Michael Atherton in The Times. The bowler is "possibly disgruntled" by having the finger of suspicion pointed at him, but "Sri Lanka were well within their rights to send Buttler on his way. You could even argue that they had been extra courteous by affording the batsman a warning".

It all adds to the tension ahead of the Test series, which starts next week. Cook said he would not hold "clear the air" talks with Mathews and when asked if there would be ill-feeling at Lord's replied: "Probably".

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