Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has decided to lift the one-year ban imposed on the senior trio of Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka, who were all ruled guilty by SLC’s disciplinary committee for breaching bio-bubble in Durham during the team’s England tour in July 2021.
The three players were spotted and filmed by a locale while they roamed on the streets of Durham city late at night despite having been told categorically not to step out even of their hotel rooms owing to the Covid-19 situation in the United Kingdom.
Following severe social media backlash, the players were immediately asked to fly back to Sri Lanka in the middle of the series, while they were suspended (for one year from international cricket and six months from domestic) apart from being slapped a fine of 10 million Sri Lankan rupees after a five-member independent committee, led by a former Supreme Court judge, had submitted their report on the matter.
Further, the SLC executive committee had also recommended mandatory counselling for all three players by a board-recommended doctor.
As it now stands, the board, following a request by all three players, has lifted the ban with “immediate effect”, as confirmed by an SLC media release, which adds that the decision to lift the ban was arrived at upon after the board “obtained a report from the Doctor, appointed by SLC to provide counselling for the three players during their period of suspension.”
“However, the lifted suspension will remain suspended for a period of two years, during which the three players’ conduct will be closely monitored by the SLC.”
“The three players will be able to engage in playing domestic cricket with immediate effect and will also be available for national selection, subject to complying with mandatory fitness standards,” it added.
Meanwhile, the development comes on the same day when one of the three members, Gunathilaka, announced his Test retirement. He represented Sri Lanka in eight Tests, amassing 299 runs at 18.68, including two half-centuries, with his last appearance dating back to the Christchurch Boxing Day Test against New Zealand. He will, however, continue to represent the team in the limited-overs format.