Sri Lanka have been hit with a rare five-run penalty over a strange incident that seemingly amounts to cheating.
The bizarre incident occurred on the second day of the second Test against England after umpires ruled that Sri Lanka had breached the law governing deliberate short runs.
During the evening session, Roshen Silva failed to ground his bat while running two with tail-ender Akila Dananjaya, after his shot skipped towards the third-man boundary only to be intercepted before hitting the rope.
It appeared as though Silva thought the ball was going to be a boundary, but when it failed to make the rope, he simply trotted back to the strikers’ end without grounding his bat for the first run.
Though it looked to be a minor gaffe, umpire Marais Erasmus seemingly judged it to be a deliberate attempt to retain the strike, rather than expose Dananjaya.
Erasmus called one short and then signalled five penalty runs against Sri Lanka, boosting England’s first innings total from 285 to 290.
So what’s the actual rule?
The rule falls under Law 18.5.1, which states that:
“If either umpire considers that one or both batsmen deliberately ran short at that umpire’s end, the umpire concerned shall, when the ball is dead, call and signal Short run and inform the other umpire of what has occurred and apply [five penalty runs].”
However Sri Lankan batsman Dimuth Karunaratne was critical of the umpires at the close of play.
“I don’t think Roshen did it deliberately, he thought the ball had gone for four and he came back to his partner to give a high five,” he said.
“Those things can happen, it’s part of the game and we don’t blame him.
“We are not so worried about the five runs. The team manager spoke to the umpires and they thought Roshen did it deliberately.”
‘Never seen that in 50 years’
England greats David Lloyd and Mike Atherton, who were in commentary at the time, said they’d never seen anything like it in all their years around cricket.
“I’ve never seen anything like that penalty run call in my 50-odd years in cricket,” Lloyd said.
“We were all baffled when the umpires signalled dead ball.
“It just looked like a good piece of fielding by Moeen Ali, but the umpires were very sharp in spotting an infringement.”
However Lloyd also dismissed the notion that Silva intentionally cheated the rule.
“There was no sharp practice by the Sri Lanka batsmen. They were just dopey.
“It was just one of the more quirky of the 42 laws of the game.”
Fans also took to social media to criticise the umpires.
@Jonny_Singer Jonny! What's up with the terrible five run penalty rule for 'deliberate' run short that Sri Lanka got today? Greg and I demand an immediate rewrite of that nonsense! Or at least be interesting to get your take on it…
— Matthew Wood (@mwood1712) November 15, 2018
Not a week goes by where the umpires don't offer further proof that, while they add 0 value to the sport, they actively cause problems with their stupidity. Will be something if this game gets decided by a 5-run margin… https://t.co/vWpMwjcNwI
— All men (@knittins) November 15, 2018
Incredibly harsh to award 5 penalty runs for that short run. Looked totally clumsy rather than malicious. More than enough for Sri Lanka to not get the run. #bbccricket
— Paul (@PaulTheFace_) November 15, 2018
England awarded 5 penalty runs because Sri Lanka took a short run, added to our first innings score allegedly. Never heard of that before!! Weird!
— MKirby (@NKchez) November 15, 2018