Sri Lanka trio sent home for breaching Covid protocols on night out

Sri Lanka players Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis and Danushka Gunathilaka have been sent home from the tour of England after breaching team bio-security rules on a night out.

Video footage purporting to show two of the players out late in Durham, where the first one-day international will be held on Tuesday, was posted to Twitter on Monday morning prompting an internal investigation.

The trio are now packing their suitcases rather than their cricket bags having been suspended from all forms of cricket pending a fuller inquiry. They will depart England on the first available flight, robbing an already beleaguered Sri Lanka side of their vice-captain (Mendis), wicketkeeper (Dickwella) and a first-choice opener (Gunathilaka).

“This decision was taken following a preliminary inquiry conducted over a video posted on social media in which the said three players can be seen outside their designated hotel,” said an official statement.

“The decision to recall the players was taken by the executive committee of Sri Lanka Cricket, based on the manager’s report’ on the matter. The three players will be suspended, from all forms of cricket, until the completion of the inquiry.”

County Durham is currently a Covid-19 hotspot as it battles a rising tide of infections, predominantly among young people, making the unauthorised evening jaunt a particularly ill-advised one.

  • 1st IT20: Eng won by 8 wickets

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Given that the players would almost certainly have faced a mandatory isolation period following their transgression, and the fact that the three-match series will be over by Sunday, the likelihood of being kept on was slim.
The news is a further blow to an increasingly embattled Sri Lanka side, who were trounced 3-0 in last week’s Twenty20 series, each time by hefty margins, and have attracted strong criticism from supporters back home.

A similar result in the 50-over format was already anticipated given the strength of the reigning world champions in ODI cricket, but with three senior men removed from the equation it would now be a remarkable effort merely to stay competitive.

Captain Kusal Perera declined to take questions on the subject at his pre-match press conference.