Complaining of step-motherly treatment meted out to them in the ongoing World Cup, an exasperated Sri Lanka has expressed dissatisfaction at the types of pitches provided, inadequate training and transport facilities apart from below-par accommodation.
Sri Lanka team manager Ashantha de Mel has written to the ICC, stating that Sri Lanka were made to play on two green decks in Cardiff, where they lost to New Zealand before defeating Afghanistan, whereas other teams who played on same venue were provided high-scoring pitches.
De Mel said another green track awaits Sri Lanka ahead of their match against Australia on Saturday.
“This is a World Cup where the top 10 countries are taking part and I feel that all the participants should be treated equally.
“What we have found out is that for the four matches we have played so far at Cardiff and Bristol the ICC has prepared a green pitch, and at the same venues where the other countries have played the pitches are brown and favourable for high scoring,” De Mel told Sri Lankan newspaper Daily News.
The match between England and Bangladesh at Cardiff saw 666 runs being scored (England 386/6 and Bangladesh 280), while game between Australia and India at the Oval witnessed a total 668 runs on flat brown track.
“The pitch being prepared for our match against Australia on Saturday here at the Oval is green. It is not (a case of) sour grapes that we are complaining but it is very unfair on the part of the ICC that they prepare one type of wicket for certain teams and another type for others,” said De Mel.
He also complained that the bus, which has been assigned to the 1996 World Cup winners, is a small with less seating capacity, as compared to Pakistan who have been given a spacious double-decker bus.
“Even the practice facilities provided at Cardiff were unsatisfactory. Instead of three nets they gave us only two and the hotel we were put up at Bristol did not have a swimming pool, which is very essential for every team for the fast bowlers especially to relax their muscles after practice,” added the manager.
“The hotels that Pakistan and Bangladesh were put up at Bristol had swimming pools,” he further rued.
De Mel also criticised the timing of the World Cup, which is being held in the early part of the summer, and has resulted in matches getting washed out.
Two out of four washed out matches so far involved Sri Lanka — against Pakistan and Bangladesh at Bristol — were the games were abandoned without a ball being bowled.
“What they should have done is played the Ashes series first and then held the World Cup in the latter part of the summer which is generally dry. It seems like the Ashes has more clout than a World Cup,” said de Mel.
Sri Lanka captain Dimuth Karunaratne also expressed disappointment at the green surfaces they have been given to play.
“I have already said that people expect entertainment from ODIs. They want 100-over games. If you take today’s game – between England and West Indies – it is a flat wicket, it is white in colour. If you take this Oval wicket, it is green. These are the things we weren’t expecting. Every wicket should be white-top. We want fair wickets. That’s all we want,” he said.
The ICC, on its part, has given an official response to Sri Lanka’s allegations, saying that the pitches are overseen by an independent advisor.
“We employ an independent pitch advisor to work with the host curators at all ICC events and the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2019 is no different,” an event spokesperson told ‘ESPNcricinfo’.
“We are happy with the wickets that have been produced across the event so far in English conditions.
“As part of the four year planning process to deliver this event, we have liaised with all teams to ensure they are happy with their set up and are available to work with them should any issues arise that have not been previously anticipated. At the heart of our planning is the philosophy that all ten teams are treated equally to enable them to have the best possible preparation for the event,” the spokesperson added.