HARTLEPOOL cricket umpire Michael Gough found himself in the middle of a storm as England lost the Royal London Series decider in Birmingham.
Controversy took hold at Edgbaston after Sri Lanka’s Sachithra Senanayake angered the crowd by running out golden boy Jos Buttler in questionable circumstances as England scrambled 219 all out last night.
Senanayake incurred the wrath of the spectators by running out Buttler at the non-striker’s end as he backed up out of his ground – albeit after twice warning him in his previous over for pinching yards.
It is a legitimate mode of dismissal, but one often frowned upon and rarely enforced.
Buttler’s status as England’s man-of-the-moment after his brilliant maiden international hundred at Lord’s, and Senanayake’s as a controversial figure since he was reported for a suspect action in the same match, only added to the jeers.
While not unheard of, it was an unusual incident – captains more often call batsmen back in such instances.
Angelo Mathews chose not to when Gough looked over towards him so the umpire had no option but to raise his right hand and give Buttler out.
The incident came in the 43rd over of an otherwise unremarkable innings in which England struggled for a par score on an apparently awkward pitch, captain Alastair Cook, with 56, the only batter to shine.
Sri Lanka knocked off the runs for the loss of only four wickets to win the series 3-2.
Cook claimed Sri Lanka “crossed a line” between what is and is not acceptable in international cricket when Senanayake ran out Buttler.
Mathews emphasised, after half-centuries from Lahiru Thirimanne and Mahela Jayawardene, had ensured a successful chase, that he would have no hesitation doing the same thing again.
Jeered along with Senanayake by a partisan crowd, Mathews explained that Buttler and Ravi Bopara had been pinching yards too in their century stand in England’s narrow defeat at Lord’s on Saturday.
He said that prompted Sri Lanka’s decision to make sure they invoked the rules so that it did not happen this time.
Cook, however, said: “In my opinion, there’s a line – and I think that line was crossed.
“I was pretty disappointed with it. It was a pretty poor act.”