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Cheat storm threatens early tour calm

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Adam Mountford | 05:13 UK time, Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Although the England camp have been keen to play things down there is no doubt the on-field argument surrounding a disputed catch during the opening match in Sri Lanka, and the very strong words about it from Graeme Swann, have caused an early tour stir.

There are few stronger things that a cricketer can say about a fellow player than to call them a "cheat" let alone using language like wanting "to kill the batsman".

England coach Andy Flower is an exceptionally calm individual who is always measured about what he says in public and although his comments about the need to respect the "opposition" were not made in direct response to Swann's "cheat" allegation, I think it's fair to assume that is probably what he was getting at.

He also made the comment that England players have to be very careful preaching about "walking" because it's not necessarily the case that they are all the first to leave the crease before an umpire's finger goes up.

I would be surprised if the incident has much impact on the forthcoming Test series, the player in question Dilruwan Perera has played international cricket for Sri Lanka in the last year but is unlikely to feature in their Test side.

But there has been some coverage of the row in the local media.

England continue their preparations for the Test series with a three-day match against a Sri Lanka Cricket Development XI in Colombo on Tuesday. Photo: Getty

The Island newspaper have run an interview with Perera under the banner "poms are whinging". Perera is quoted as saying "I wasn't sure of the catch and the umpires weren't sure of the catch as well. So I stood my ground. I can't understand why they are making an issue out of it".

He also brought up other incidents in the game where he said the Board XI were on the wrong end of decisions and says "these things happen in cricket and I think England are barking up the wrong tree".

But although there is unlikely to be any long-lasting effects from this rumpus it is true sometimes early tour incidents can set a tone.

On the 2001 tour here Darren Gough was reported for using abusive language in the opening fixture, then a race row erupted at a game in Matara when another player named Perera, this time Ruchira, was accused of using a slur towards Craig White before Gough again was seen wagging his finger at an umpire during a practice match in Kurunegala.

There followed a highly acrimonious Test series with controversial umpiring and an onfield row between Michael Atherton and Kumar Sangakarra with both players reprimanded by the match referee. The captains had to have a meeting before the final Test to try and calm down the situation.

It would be highly unfortunate if the incident at the Premadasa stadium on Saturday was any kind of precursor to any trouble ahead - but the intensity England showed in that match demonstrates how desperately they want to succeed out here and perhaps how difficult it can be to keep your cool when the thermostat reaches 34C plus.


  • Comment number 1.

    England generally kept their cool on the opening day of the final warm-up match despite the home side scoring 376 runs in temperatures approaching 37 degrees. Although Steve Finn gave the development team leading scorer Chamara Silva an unnecessary verbal send off when he eventually got him out. The batsman just pointed to the scoreboard which showed 163 to his name - so I suspect we know who won that duel!

  • Comment number 2.

    I don't really see why England got bent out of shape about this. Straus has got previous for claiming catches that bounced in front of him. If I were the batsman I wouldn't have walked either.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think there is a bit of over-hype here, there is a lot of gamesmanship all over modern international cricket. I think the England lads should just play harder and better and not make any comments.
    All the best teams try to get away with stuff round the edges of the rules, who is spotless enough to call anything like that cheating.

    Play to the umpire.

    John Meffen

  • Comment number 4.

    England have stated that they try to play every game with the same intensity as a test. So not a surprise when the opposition and officials are performing at a different level that they get frustrated. But it is how they respond in terms of performance that is key. England should be wary that match referees are starting to get tougher it seems.

    Looking forward to another decent test battle shame it's only 2 matches

  • Comment number 5.

    This is what Stuart Broad said about the issue of "banter" on the field after the Steve Finn incident today.

    “you are playing against international players so there’s always a little bit of niggle there , you are playing for your country. But … it’s important you don’t overstep the mark and go too far with it. I like personally to see a battle between bowler and batsman it makes the game more interesting .. I don’t think anything got out of control .. just a couple of cheeky words here and there"

  • Comment number 6.

    Another point that was made today was that the England players are so used to playing international cricket with the DRS and TV replays for low catches etc that perhaps they get extra frustrated in warm-up games when this sort of technology is not available. As we know England players don't tend to play a great deal of County cricket any more.

  • Comment number 7.

    the grovelling excuses for this type of disgraceful behaviour is absolutly pathetic, after getting an absoulte thrashing and being humiliated in front of the world you'd think the england test team would keep their heads down and their mouths shut, but no once agian some members have to display their absolute lack of class by arguing, swearing accusing and even threatening(?!?!). If it had been the other way round im sure the coverage would have been totally different with calls for a suspension, swaan needs to shut up and concentrate on his performance.

    The only positive was flowers conduct, put the arrogant players right on the spot.

  • Comment number 8.

    Are the England team putting additional pressure on themselves after the poor test series in the UAE?

    Either way on & off the pitch they still need to show restraint. I believe Mr Flowers expects it from his interview. But using the word cheat in a post match interview when you've had time to reflect just lights the touch paper.

  • Comment number 9.

    7 Ormandwar

    You seem to be falling straight into the standard media trap! Just before the test series wherever England tours there is a sudden and largely synthetic controversy. This one is following the usual pattern of picking out some incident and morphing it into an accusation of cheating. In a couple of days it will have been grown into a story of "English Arrogance" that gees up the home support and sells tickets to the game! If it runs its full course it will involve accusations of "neo-colonial" attitudes and "double-standards" in the game...and then we can get on with the cricket!

    There are certainly a few fiery characters in the England team who should learn that it's sometimes better to just keep quiet and take the rough with the smooth. That being said, nobody is in jail!

  • Comment number 10.

    Comment 7: 'after getting an absoulte thrashing and being humiliated in front of the world you'd think the england test team would keep their heads down and their mouths shut, but no once agian some members have to display their absolute lack of class by arguing, swearing accusing and even threatening(?!?!)'

    Being beaten by an excellent test team such as Pakistan is not a humiliation- it's something that all test players will have to deal with at some point in their careers. A humiliation is being unable to play in your own country and having to constantly play at 'home' in a dust bowl that no one has ever played in.

    I disagree that the English test players should be keeping their heads down and their mouths shut. Many of the great teams (the Australia teams of recent years for example) have had plenty to say, and a swagger to go with it. Better a swagger than a head that goes down as soon as the game gets tough! I say let them have their opinions and touch of arrogance- they've earned it.

  • Comment number 11.

    I tend to agree with Anglophone (#8): we've seen his all before and it's the standard sequence of events to try and liven up a rather low-key series, always followed by outraged comments on here from rival fans (who, strangely, in this case systematically spell "Flower" incorrectly). If Dilruwan Perera really made the comments to he press that are attributed to him (something that I would doubt), it is extremely unfortunate.

    Both teams have a lot to play for and both sides respect the other a great deal. Let's hope that the press and the fans will follow their lead.

  • Comment number 12.

    #7, I don't recall England ever threatening to abandon a series when one of its players was disciplined for racist behaviour or refusing to accept the appointed ICC match referee because he had disciplined a player. Maybe the right to make threats is geographically limited? Get over it and just enjoy the cricket.

  • Comment number 13.

    Outrageous hypocricy by the English as usual. I have seen English batsmen stand their ground and refuse to walk on countless occasions when they have blatantly edged the ball. Strauss, Pietersen, Trott, Bell... the lot of them.. 99% of cricketers dont walk until the umpire gives it. Thats the way it is. Just in the series against Pak, Strauss didnt walk after edging it and the umpire didnt give it. Pak reviewed it and there was a huge edge on hotspot and a major deflection. Blatant cheating! But obviously the English dont cheat.. only the other nations do... particularly those from the Indian sub-continent. HYPOCRITES!

  • Comment number 14.

    As usual, the people with the most to say about this topic are people with no experience of playing any form of decent cricket, let alone first class or test cricket. Given this, how can they know how they (or anyone else) might react to a given situation?

    Are they the same people who 'contribute' to and ruin You Tube cricket videos?...


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