Thursday, July 10, 2008

Senior Srilankan Players prefer IPL over the Tour to England

Sri Lanka's top players will be allowed to appear in next year's Indian Premier League instead of touring England. Officials say they cannot guarantee to send a full strength side and will now discuss alternative plans with the England and Wales Cricket Board. "The players were already committed to play in the IPL," said Sri Lanka Cricket chief executive Duleep Mendis.

"They assured us they would give the 2011 tour of England priority ahead of the IPL, so we couldn't let them down." Earlier this week, Sri Lanka accepted an invitation to tour England and play two Tests and three one-day internationals after the ECB severed sporting relations with Zimbabwe. But the majority of Sri Lanka's top players are signed up to three-year deals with the IPL's eight team franchises.

The six-week tournament will start on 10 April, and will clash with the first England v Sri Lanka Test, which is scheduled for 8 May. Mendis added: "We will be taking up the matter with the ECB shortly to find what alternatives we can arrive at without upsetting both parties. "The players were already committed to the IPL, therefore it was agreed that the players be allowed to play in the IPL next year."

Sri Lanka Cricket hope the tour can be rescheduled, but there is little room for manouvre with the ICC World Twenty20 in England starting in June. If England cannot change dates, then Sri Lanka may offer to send a weakened squad. Captain Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dilhara Fernando, Sanath Jayasuriya and Upal Tharanga are among the players to have signed lucrative three-year deals with IPL franchises.

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