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Sri Lanka let Gough off the hook

COLOMBO, March 4 (AFP) - Sri Lankan cricket officials decided Sunday to sweep under the carpet an incident involving England's pace ace Darren Gough during a one-day tour match.

Officials said they were not pressing for action against Gough in the hope that the cool hills of Kandy might help him cool his temper during the second Test which starts there on Wednesday.

"The team does not want to make a big issue out of it," a cricket official said. "We feel a diplomatic approach is better to resolve such problems."

The latest spat involving the stocky Yorkshireman was during England's warm-up match against a Sri Lanka Colts XI played at Kurunegala on Saturday under hot and humid conditions.

Gough was accidentally tripped by Colts XI batsman Indika de Saram as he went to field off his own bowling in the 37th over of the innings.

He fell to the ground and having got to his feet pointed his finger at the batsman. At the end of the over he then snatched his sun glasses from umpire T.M. Samarasinghe.

Hussain followed the disgruntled bowler to third man and, pointing to the dressing room, appeared to tell him to go in and cool down. Gough stormed off and appeared to say a few words to Samarasinghe on his way.

He returned later to complete his quota of overs and take the wicket of De Saram.

At the end of the match, which England won quite comfortably by eight wickets, Hussain denied there was an incident involving his key fast bowler.

"As far as I am concerned there was no incident. I am amazed that there has been a statement released," said Hussain.

He also denied that he had sent Gough off to cool down.

"Goughie was unhappy with bowling into the wind and was complaining of a stiff back. I had anyway signalled to the dressing room that he would be coming off at the end of the over."

In a statement released to the media Saturday Gough also denied being involved in any untoward action on the field.

"Although it may have appeared otherwise to the spectators, I can honestly say that Nasser did not send me off the field following the incident. I had always intended to leave the field at the end of my spell as I was suffering from a stiff back and needed to get some treatment," said Gough.

In response to reports he had spoken to umpire Samarasinghe as he left the field, Gough said: "I asked the umpire to warn the player because I did not want to get into a dispute with him."

The umpires also played down the incident afterwards and said they will not be taking up the matter further.

This was not the first time Gough had lost his temper on the tour.

In England's first game in Colombo he waved a bat in the face of a schoolboy and verbally abused a Sri Lankan bowler after being caught at bat pad.

He was reported to the Sri Lankan Cricket Board but no action was taken by the England management as the hosts did not press for any charges.

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