Flag protest on balcony after Lord's Hales storm

The national flag is draped over the balcony of the Sri Lanka dressing room at Lord's, in protest against an incorrect no-ball call that gave England batsman Alex Hales a reprieve.
The national flag is draped over the balcony of the Sri Lanka dressing room at Lord's, in protest against an incorrect no-ball call that gave England batsman Alex Hales a reprieve. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Sri Lanka on Sunday moved to lodge an official complaint with the International Cricket Council over the incorrectly called no-ball that led to England's Alex Hales being reprieved at Lord's, with the team briefly unfurling their national flag over the pavilion balcony in protest.

The incident occurred during the 46th over of England's second innings in the third and final Test when Hales, on 58, was bowled by a delivery from Nuwan Pradeep that kept low.

The umpire, Rod Tucker, had already deemed the seamer to have overstepped, and the appeal was turned down.

But subsequent replays showed Pradeep's delivery was, in fact, legal, with his front foot landing marginally behind the line before sliding over.

Hales went on to score 94 to help England take the match away from the tourists.

Under the regulations, the on-field umpires are able to check with the TV official to see if a bowler has overstepped after a dismissal that was originally deemed fair.

They are powerless, however, to reverse incorrect no-balls under the premise that batsmen change their shot when hearing the umpire's call.

Sri Lanka coach Graham Ford and team manager Charith Senanayake visited the office of the ICC match referee, Andy Pycroft, to seek clarification over the call and those remaining in the team's dressing room hung their flag from the balcony.

While the Marylebone Cricket Club (the owner of the Lord's cricket ground in London) officials swiftly told them to remove the flag because it contravened ground regulations, the mood in the Sri Lanka camp did not subside.

Their cricket board president, Thilanga Sumathipala, called the decision "unacceptable".

"The management on tour is very sad about that decision and it will be reported to the ICC," Sumathipala said. "The flag is a symbol. It is a mark to say we are not happy with the decision. To show solidarity and fight back."

Ford said: "It's something the ICC will have to look at - that with the technology available, you can still get a line call wrong.

"Surely we can get to a point where that problem can be taken out of cricket... Apparently Rod Tucker apologised to our captain, Angelo Mathews, quite a few times."

It is the second time this year that the situation has occurred.

A similar incident took place during the first Test between New Zealand and Australia at Wellington in February.

REUTERS, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 14, 2016, with the headline 'Flag protest on balcony after Lord's Hales storm'. Print Edition | Subscribe