Dozens of groundsmen at Sri Lanka’s Hambantota cricket stadium have complained that they were ordered to give back their uniforms before being paid – even though they were wearing them at the time.

Sri Lanka Cricket was forced to apologise after social media reports that some workers had to leave the ground in their underwear at the end of the fifth One-day international between Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe on Monday.

“Whilst stern action will be taken against those responsible, Sri Lanka Cricket wishes to apologise to those subjected to this ignominy, and will take steps to ensure they are compensated,” the board said in a statement. The workers had been told that they would not be paid until they returned the uniforms provided by the board.

Zimbabwe claimed the ODI series against Sri Lanka 3-2, embarrassing a home side that has struggled with fitness, losses and coaching upheaval. Local media lambasted the 1996 World Cup winners and the loss was deemed as the lowest point in the Island Nation’s history, “Sri Lankan cricket has reached its lowest point and it could well be the point of no return. Now that the 11th ranked Zimbabwe have beaten them, we wonder what excuse is in store,” local newspaper Island wrote on Tuesday.

“Disgrace” read a headline in the local Daily Mirror, while another newspaper said Sri Lanka’s cricket was “in the doldrums”. Their defeat came hot on the heels of their early exit from the Champions Trophy and a drubbing by Sports Minister Dayasiri Jayasekera, who accused the national side of being overweight and unfit to compete on the world stage. Players were given three months to get in shape or face the boot.

The side began the five-match series against Zimbabwe without a coach after Graham Ford quit on the eve of the tournament, just halfway through his 45-month contract.