When `The Island` questioned whether the tactic adopted by Australian batsman Adam Gilchrist by using a squash ball in his batting glove was legal, there were mixed reactions from some leading figures of Sri Lankan cricket.
Gilchrist blasted the quickest hundred in a World Cup final and was named the Man of the Match for his 149, but since it has been revealed that the Australian batsman was aided by a squash ball that gave him a better grip, there have been outrageous response from the public, with many branding the batsman a cheat.
Relations between the two countries have been strained since the day controversial cricket umpire Darrel Hair no balled Muttiah Muralitharan 12 years ago and things only worsened after Gilchrist`s latest ploy that gave the Australians an edge in the World Cup final at the Kensington Oval.
Dinal Phillips a reputed Sports and Commercial lawyer demanded that the matter must be investigated.
`The timing that Gilchrist thought to try out the new method puzzles me. Had he done it in a previous game and if the authorities had got to know about it, he would have been forced to get rid of the device. But this was the final and no one could do anything after he blasted the Sri Lankan attack,` Phillips a former legal consultant of Sri Lanka Cricket said.
`These days we all talk about Spirit of Cricket and more than any of us the Australians talk on Spirit of Cricket and it`s a shame that they had to adopt such tactics. This is not in accordance with Spirit of Cricket and this must be investigated. As far as I am concerned, it`s nothing but cheating.`
The Secretary of Sri Lanka Cricket K. Mathivanan also told `The Island` on Sunday that what Gilchrist did was unethical and promised to take up the matter with the ICC. However, he added that the damage for Sri Lanka had been already done.
Sidat Wettimuny, the President of Sri Lanka Cricketers` Association, meanwhile added that the matter must be closely scrutinised by the Cricket Committee of the ICC.
Sri Lanka`s Chairman of Selectors Asantha de Mel also slammed the Australian`s ploy.
De Mel accompanied the team as a selector and had a first hand experience of Gilchrist`s onslaught and felt that it should be banned.
`My point is, if Sanath Jayasuriya had done it, he would have been killed. It could have enhanced our players` performance too if the tactic was followed.`
`We must find out whether it enhanced his performance and Gilchrist has admitted that it did. He has admitted that it gave more power for his shots, which means that it enhanced his performance. It`s like an athlete taking a steroid. Therefore it`s unethical,` De Mel, one of the unsung heroes in Sri Lanka`s success story in the World Cup campaign said.
`Cricket laws don`t allow you to have additional equipment. The ICC should look into the matter and make sure that it doesn`t happen in the future. The Australians you see are famous for these things. They bowled underarm and it was banned. Then Dennis Lillie tried to use an aluminium bat and it was banned too. More recently Ricky Ponting`s graphite bat was banned as well.`
`The sad point is that most of these things were banned after the damage was done,` de Mel added.
However, Gilchrist had some consolation when the country`s former captain Aravinda de Silva spoke in support of him. After seeing `The Island` article on Monday, country`s greatest batsman, called `The Island` sports desk and shared his views.
`Gilly (Gilchrist) is not that kind of a person. He`s one of the fairest blokes in world cricket and for me it`s hard to imagine that he would do anything dishonest. I still remember how he walked in a World Cup semi-final despite the umpire giving him not out. I was the bowler on that instance. A bloke of that nature wouldn`t do something like that,` de Silva said.
`Gilchrist`s 149 is easily one of the best knocks I have seen. We should admire the way he played. Sri Lanka played extremely well in the World Cup, but one man took the game away from us and we must appreciate that.
`The other point is that if he hadn`t pointed at the glove we wouldn`t have known.`
`That`s a good lesson for all the coaches as well to try to improve players. For youngsters who use the bottom hand a lot and have problems they can think of ways and come up with methods to avoid it,` the veteran of five Cricket World Cups told `The Island`.
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Post: Sports Editor, The Island, 223, Bloemendhal Road, Colombo 13.