During an five match ODI cricket series between Sri Lanka and England in which fortunes ebbed and flowed throughout, the deciding game at Edgbaston proved not only to be a comfortable victory for the tourists but also sparked a controversial run-out which several English gentleman would have described as ‘it’s just not cricket’. Yet off-spin bowler Sachithra Senanayake was perfectly entitled to dismiss non-striking batsman Jos Buttler in the middle of another rather laboured England innings.
With England batting first and trying to accelerate an innings which had accumulated 199 runs for the loss of 6 wickets, Jos Buttler walked down the pitch in anticipation of a delivery by Senanayake. He had been warned about this behaviour in a previous over. As Buttler had strayed from the crease, the Sri Lankan removed the bails before bowling thus technically dismissing the England batsman with the umpire upholding the appeal.
According to the rules of cricket, this was a perfectly valid action although the England team complained that it was not within the spirit of the game. A crescendo of boos descended from the watching crowd when the dismissal had been confirmed and continued for some time afterwards.
Yet at a time when England were intent on chasing runs and were most definitely behind target, it can be argued that Buttler was seeking an advantage in walking so far down the wicket. Quick singles are often precious at that stage of an innings and the less distance needing to be covered between wickets is obviously of prime concern.
Perhaps it was just inexperience on the part of Buttler, as he just needed to ensure that his bat was on the crease, but in the haste to accumulate essential runs, straying down the wicket was most definitely an oversight. Having been adjudged to be one of the better England players during this series, and even mentioned as a potential test match performer, hopefully his form will not be affected by this incident.
When Sri Lanka eventually replied and scored the necessary 220 runs to secure a series victory with 6 wickets and 10 balls to spare, accusations of unfair play emanating from the England representatives only glossed over a rather tepid display by both the batsmen and bowlers. Opener Alastair Cook was leading run scorer with 56 but there was no other innings beyond 40 in a paltry total of 219 all out in 48 overs.
Nevertheless, a series in which Sri Lanka emerged as deserved 3-2 victors will be forever overshadowed by the controversial run-out and it is unlikely to have been forgotten by the time the two nations play a two match test series beginning on June 12th.