England's struggle led to Sachithra Senanayake report - Mathews

By Saroj PathiranaBBC Sinhala Service
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews and off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake
Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews and off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake

Sri Lanka captain Angelo Mathews claims off-spinner Sachithra Senanayake's bowling action was reported because England found him difficult to face.

Senanayake, 29, will undergo testing by the International Cricket Council over his allegedly illegal action.

"I think when you travel to some parts of the world and people find a certain bowler difficult to handle they tend to report," Mathews told BBC Sinhala.

"Sachithra has been cleared before; we're very confident of him."

Senanayake was reported on 2 June under Law 24.3 by umpires Ian Gould and Marais Erasmus following Sri Lanka's victory in the fourth one-day international at Lord's.

Bowlers are not allowed to straighten their arm by more than 15 degrees and the off-spinner will have bio-mechanical tests on his action at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Senanayake is a limited-overs specialist, having played only a single Test so far, and was left out of Sri Lanka's squad for the two-Test series which begins at Lord's on Thursday.

He was Sri Lanka's leading wicket-taker in the recent one-day series against England, taking nine wickets at an average of 15.11.

Mathews says that scrutinising the actions of unorthodox spinners is something Sri Lanka have "experienced since Muttiah Muralitharan's time".

An ICC Spokesman said: "Anglo Matthews has clarified to ICC and ECB that he did not infer that there was any pressure on the umpires, or criticism of ICC or ECB following the report of Senanayake.

"Both ICC and ECB are happy with this clarification and this matter is closed."

Off-spinner Muralitharan retired from Test cricket in 2010 as the all-time leading wicket-taker in Tests with 800 victims.

His unique bent-arm bowling action, caused by an elbow deformity with which he was born, led to controversy and some umpires and former players questioned its legality, notably in Australia, where umpires Darrell Hair and Ross Emerson no-balled him for throwing.

Muralitharan was reported three times in his career but biomechanical testing led the ICC to clear him on each occasion and Sri Lanka skipper Mathews is optimistic of a positive outcome for Senanayake.

"The cricket board will follow the processes and he'll be back very soon. Sachithra also knows we all are behind him," said Mathews.

Sachithra Senanayake stats
List A12218121.125/23
Correct on 11 June 2014

Senanayake was also involved in the controversial 'Mankading' run out of England wicketkeeper Jos Buttler in the final ODI at Edgbaston.

The incident further heightened tensions between the two sides ahead of the two-match Test series, although Mathews believes the Sri Lanka dressing room is closer as a result.

"I think all these things started with the reporting of Sachithra for a suspect action," Mathews added. "But we are determined to be more stronger and not to allow it to be a setback."

Sri Lanka are set to be without fast bowler Suranga Lakmal for the first Test as he recovers from hamstring injury which saw him miss the majority of the ODI series.