Sri Lanka's Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis and Niroshan Dickwella have had their one-year bans on playing international cricket lifted.

The decision from Sri Lanka Cricket comes less than six months into the suspension period, and means they are once again eligible for selection in domestic cricket as well as for their national side.

The ban was handed out after the three players were found to have breached COVID-19 bio-bubble protocols during the tour of England last year.

The players were in Durham preparing for the first of three ODIs when they left the team hotel to visit the city centre despite strict COVID-19-related rules.

Batsmen Mendis and Gunathilaka, and wicketkeeper-batsman Dickwella were sent home and hit with strong sanctions.

The executive committee of Sri Lanka Cricket took into account recommendations made by an independent panel of inquiry before handing down a 12-month ban from playing at international level and a six-month domestic suspension.

All three were also fined 10million Sri Lanka Rupees (around £36,000) for their indiscretion.

However, a statement released on Friday outlined that the ban had been lifted, confirming: "Sri Lanka Cricket has decided to lift the one-year suspension imposed on the [three] players from playing international cricket, across all three formats, with immediate effect.

"The latest decision was taken following a request made by the three players to Sri Lanka Cricket to lift the ban imposed on them, pursuant to the conclusion of the LPL 2021. Based on such request, Sri Lanka Cricket obtained a report from the doctor appointed by SLC to provide counselling for the three players during their period of suspension."

Sri Lanka Cricket did also state that if the trio have any further disciplinary breaches in the next two years, the remainder of the suspension will need to be served.

"The lifted suspension will remain suspended for a period of two years, during which the three players' conduct will be closely monitored by the SLC," the release added.

"Accordingly, the three players will be able to engage in playing domestic cricket with immediate effect and will also be available for national selection, subject to complying with mandatory fitness standards."

Sri Lanka trio Kusal Mendis, Niroshan Dickwella and Danushka Gunathilaka have been sent home from their tour of England for breaching the team's bio-secure bubble.

The three players were in Durham preparing for the first of three one-dayers against England but left the team hotel to visit the city centre against COVID-19-related health guidelines.

A statement from Sri Lanka Cricket on Monday said: "This decision was taken following a preliminary inquiry conducted over a video posted on social media in which the three said players can be seen outside their designated hotel.

"The three players will be suspended from all forms of cricket until the completion of the inquiry."

The trio featured in Sri Lanka's Twenty20 international series against England, which the hosts won with a 3-0 whitewash, and had been expected to be involved in the ODI series.

"The players have been suspended pending a full inquiry, but have confessed to having gone out," Sri Lanka Cricket vice-president Mohan de Silva told Cricinfo.

"They are being recalled [home] from the tour with immediate effect."

 

Mendis, 26, only made 54 runs in three innings during the T20 series but did top score with 39 in the second T20 in Cardiff while fellow batsmen Gunathilaka, 30, has struggled with knocks of four, three and 19.

Dickwella played the second two matches but the 28-year-old managed just 14 runs with the bat and no catches or stumpings.

The departure of Mendis, Gunathilaka and Dickwella, following an injury to Avishka Fernando has left Sri Lanka has left coach Mickey Arthur with a depleted squad but there are no plans to cancel the series, which starts on Tuesday.

A century from Shai Hope and a half-century from Evin Lewis helped West Indies cruise to a comfortable eight-wicket victory over Sri Lanka with 18 balls to spare at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium and take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

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