AFP – World Cup organisers have been forced to defend the quality of the tournament’s pitches and facilities after reports of an official complaint from Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka team manager Ashantha de Mel claimed the International Cricket Council have given certain World Cup teams preferential treatment at the expense of his side.
Launching an angry attack on the ICC ahead of Sri Lanka’s match against holders Australia on Saturday, de Mel blasted the quality of pitches, practice facilities, transport and accommodation at the World Cup in England and Wales.
"This is a World Cup where the top ten countries are taking part and I feel that all the participants should be treated equally," de Mel was quoted as saying by Sri Lankan newspaper Daily News on Friday.
"The pitch being prepared for our match against Australia on Saturday here at the Oval is green. It is not 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."
De Mel criticised Sri Lanka’s team bus, saying it was more cramped than the double-decker vehicles provided to other teams.
He also slammed the net facilities at Cardiff as "unsatisfactory" and the squad’s hotel in Bristol, which lacks a swimming pool.
He added that the World Cup’s timing, it runs from May 30 to July 14, suggested the ICC valued the Ashes Test series between England and Australia — which is scheduled to follow the World Cup — more than the flagship one-day competition.
But the ICC refuted de Mel’s claims about the pitches and said they worked with all teams equally in a bid to ensure fair treatment.
– Fair wicket plea –
"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 ICC statement read.
"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."
Sri Lanka lost to New Zealand in their first World Cup match, then beat Afghanistan before successive games against Bangladesh and Pakistan were washed out.
Asked to elaborate on de Mel’s criticisms, Sri Lanka Dimuth Karunaratne deferred to his manager when he faced the media at a pre-match press conference at the Oval on Friday.
"I have no idea what Ashantha said. You should ask from him. I don’t know anything about it," he said.
But Karunaratne did suggest that Sri Lanka felt frustrated they had been given several pitches that favoured bowlers rather than batsmen due to extra grass left on the strip.
"If you take this Oval wicket, there’s also a bit of green. I think those are the things," he said.
"We were not expecting every wicket should be a white top. We are asking for a fair wicket. That’s what we all want and what all the spectators want."