Mathews became the first player in 146 years of international cricket to be timed out, sparking tensions in the World Cup match between Sri Lanka and Bangladesh at Delhi’s Arun Jaitley Stadium on Monday.
Richard Illingworth, one of the on-field umpires, had warned Mathews that he had 30 seconds left to be ready to face the bowler, according to ESPNCricinfo. However, the former Sri Lankan captain suddenly realised he had a broken chin strap on his helmet, causing a further delay.
A batter must be ready to face the first ball within two minutes of the previous dismissal, according to ICC’s playing conditions for World Cups.
Before the end of those two minutes, the batter needs to be ready to face the bowler and not just have taken guard. As per the rule, the TV umpire starts the clock immediately at the fall of the previous wicket.
After the dismissal of Sadeera Samarawickrama, Mathews took a minute and 10 seconds to walk into the field. The 36-year-old batter walked to the crease and met the non-striker Charith Asalanka near the batting crease, having a quick word and a glove bump, before he was alerted by Illingworth that he had just 30 seconds left.
When just five seconds were left for the stipulated two minutes to end, Mathews had not yet taken guard. As he was adjusting his chin strap, it came off in his hand. The batter failed to face his first delivery within the stipulated two minutes and as a result, became the first international batter to be timed out.
The former Sri Lanka skipper made another error by signalling to his dugout for a replacement helmet, instead of first informing the on-field umpires – Marais Erasmus at the bowler’s end and Illingworth at square leg – about the situation with his gear.
The standard protocol is that a player informs the on-field umpires before seeking replacement gear as a matter of respect and also to see to it that match officials can manage time.
When Mathews finally received a new backup helmet, it was nearly two-and-a-half minutes after Samarawickrama was sent back to the pavilion. Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan, who was bowling at the time, appealed to Erasmus.
The on-field umpire double checked with Al Hasan, giving him an opportunity to withdraw his appeal, but the Bangladesh skipper did not do so, leaving Mathews outraged.
Sri Lanka eventually lost the match by three wickets and were eliminated from the 2023 World Cup.
Matthews conveyed his displeasure at the post-match conference, suggesting the match officials could have used “common sense” to account for the equipment malfunction.
He said he wouldn’t have faced such a situation had it been any other team instead of Bangladesh.