Byline: GARY FITZGERALD
SRI Lankan bowler Ruchira Perera was caught up in a Lord's 'chucking' storm after ripping the heart out of England's batting.
The little-known left-armer was accused by ex-England stars Dermot Reeve and Mike Atherton of having a suspect action as Nasser Hussain's men were left struggling to save the Test.
Perera, 25, is not noted as one of the world's top bowlers but he performed like a world-beater in taking 3-48 with his whippy medium pacers as England were dismissed for 275.
Marcus Trescothick (31) and Michael Vaughan (20) were unbeaten in England's second innings of 53-0 at the close, but will start the final two days still 227 runs behind the tourists.
However, England's predicament was over-shadowed by a row over Perera's bowling style with TV replays showing his arm bending just before releasing the ball. The rules state a bowler's arm must remain straight at all times.
Ex-England ace Dermot Reeve - now a commentator for Channel 4 - claimed: "How the umpires did not spot it or do something about it I don't know.
"I'll put my head on the block and say he is a thrower. Certainly some of his deliveries today were not legal. I'm sure the England batsmen who got out to him today will not be too happy about the situation but they are not allowed to say anything."
Umpires Daryll Harper and Srinivas Venkataraghavan failed to notice any problems with Perera and therefore did not mention it to the match referee, Gundappa Viswanath.
Ex-Indian Test star Viswanath will surely be forced into studying the Sri Lankan's action after it was put under the TV microscope.
Former England captain Mike Atherton insisted: "There's something clearly not right about his action. It is suspect, but surely it should have been sorted out before he was allowed to get to this level."
Barry Richards, the former South African star who now coaches the Sri Lankan batsmen, insisted: "I think you have to forgive the Sri Lankans to some extent because they don't have the same coaching set up or expertise that all the other top Test-playing countries have."
England were keeping quiet last night about the Perera affair.
Batsman John Crawley insisted: "It is the job of the players to just be players. It's someone else's job if anything like that is brought up."
Perera's figures in his sixth Test were the second best of his short Test career. His best is 3-40 against Bangladesh.
It's not the first time Sri Lanka have been embroiled in this kind of affair.
Muttiah Muralitharan, arguably the world's No1 spinner, is still dogged by his 'chucker' allegations.
Perera was also in trouble with the umpires for running on the wicket and for dissent at having an lbw appeal rejected. He received warnings each time.
England must get a first innings disaster out of their system, having been bowled out so meekly. They lost their last seven wickets for 72 runs after only Vaughan (64) and Hussain (57) showed any defiance or commitment.
Perera was aided and abetted by Buddika Fernando (3-83), whose right-arm medium action has no such question marks over it. …