Sri Lanka’s sports authorities on Tuesday ordered its cricketers playing in the ongoing Indian Premier League to return home for training ahead of next month’s tour of England.
Sports Minister Mahinadananda Althugamage said he wanted team members to prioritise the national side over the IPL, which is financially lucrative for players.
“In future, national cricket players can participate in foreign tournaments only in a manner that will not affect practices of the Sri Lankan national team,” the ministry said in a statement.
It said those who are selected for the three-Test series in England will have to return home for practices despite their commitments in the ongoing IPL Twenty20 tournament. Sri Lanka will also play five ODIs and an ODI each against Scotland and Ireland in Edinburgh during their two-month long tour of the UK.
Eleven Lankan players are involved in the IPL at the moment, including two captains - Kumar Sangakkara (Deccan Chargers) and Mahela Jayawardene (Kochi Tuskers Kerala) and at least five of them are tipped to be included in the squad for England.
The statement did not say how the players will be penalised if they did not attend practices as required under a new sports ministry decree, but official sources said they were likely to be dropped if they did not comply.
“All the players will have to report to Colombo by May 5. That is when we start the camp for the England tour. The team will depart for England on May 11,” DS de Silva, chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), told Times of India from Colombo.
SLC secretary Nishantha Ranatunga, brother of 1996 World Cup winning skipper Arjuna, too confirmed the development.
“The conditions in England will be completely different to those that prevail in Lanka. The selectors have issued a directive to have the players ready for the camp by May 5. The team for England will be selected in a week’s time. All those selected will have to be here,” he said.
When asked if the players were aware, Ranatunga said, “Yes, they have been kept in the loop.”
To the more tricky question as to whether the players were happy or not to forgo the greenbacks for the matches they will miss, Ranatunga was more guarded.
“I don’t know if they are happy or not. In any case they have to be here.”
He also denied that SLC and the players were on a collision course and played down the possibility of action being taken on the players who will miss the camp. “I’m sure they will toe the line,” was his terse reply.