Alastair Cook claimed Sri Lanka “crossed a line” between what is and is not acceptable in international cricket when Sachithra Senanayake ran out Jos Buttler at Edgbaston.
In a series decider on Tuesday night – which Sri Lanka won by six wickets – the controversial dismissal of Buttler, when backing up at the non-striker’s end, in England’s lacklustre innings of 219 all out was the unmistakeable flashpoint.
The tourists’ captain Angelo Mathews emphasised, after half-centuries from Lahiru Thirimanne and Mahela Jayawardene, had ensured a successful chase and 3-2 series win, that he would have no hesitation doing the same thing again.
Mathews, jeered along with Senanayake by a partisan crowd, explained that Buttler and Ravi Bopara had been pinching yards too in their century stand in England’s narrow defeat at Lord’s last Saturday – hence Sri Lanka’s decision to make sure they invoked the rules so that it did not happen this time.
But Cook said: “In my opinion, there’s a line – and I think that line was crossed today.
“I was pretty disappointed with it. It was a pretty poor act.”
He conceded he has not yet had to make a similar call, so cannot be totally sure how he might react.
“You don’t know quite in the spur of the moment about it but you know emotion can get the better of you,” Cook said.
“Until you are put in a situation like that you don’t know how you would handle it. But I’d hope to think I wouldn’t do it.”
Cook does not believe Lancashire star Buttler was trying to take an unfair advantage.
“If he was properly trying to steal a single, I could possibly understand it,” Cook said. “But he was half a yard out of his crease.”
England’s wicketkeeper-batsman was aghast at the turn of events, and ill-feeling appeared to persist into Sri Lanka’s innings.
“He was angry, like you would be,” said Cook.
“But I suppose, if he was in his crease, you wouldn’t have had that problem.”